When TBCo. co-founder, Emma, was pregnant she realised it was really hard to find a wool baby blanket, even though it’s such a miracle material that is perfect for newborns. So, we started our Little TBCo. baby blanket range, and they have quickly grown into your (and our) favourite gift for a little one! (PS. if you want more newborn gift ideas, read Top 10 Gifts for Welcoming a Newborn.) And so when Emma's sister, Rosie, recently had her precious newborn, Brody, we were excited to share the gift of wool with them and invite them around to the studio for some photos.
In Rosie's own words:
"It's one of the most used baby items we have. With it being breathable we didn’t have to worry when he was really small that he might pull it over his face so always had him wrapped up in it, it’s so soft and cosy he still now loves snuggling into it."
There’s no other way to say it, wool is just magic. All wool is natural, hypoallergenic, insulating, temperature regulating, moisture wicking and repellant, odour resistant, stain resistant, self-cleaning, and biodegradable. Let’s just say, lambs really know how to dress themselves, and that’s why we recommend it for your little lamb, too.
1. SKIN SENSITIVE// Will wool irritate my baby’s skin? Blame it on the cheap, scratchy wool jumpers of our childhoods, but people often equate wool with itchiness. Well, we’re here to proudly say “NOT SO!”
Scratchiness depends on how fine the strands of the wool are, and since we only source the highest quality Mongolian lambswool, it is super soft. Scientists have agreed that a wool allergy is actually quite rare and that if someone seems to be having any sort of reaction to wool, it is more likely a chemical used on the wool. Using organic or eco wool usually solves the problem.
A wool strand consists of three layers: Keratin (moisture-loving protein in all animal hair maintains stable body temperature), Scales (the second layer is made of tiny overlapping scales that push off dirt as they rub together, making wool self cleaning), and Outer Skin (a filmy, water-resistant, waxy skin that keeps rain out). You can understand it more through this kind of gross but really amazing anatomical diagram of a wool strand. All of these natural attributes make wool super sensitive and skin friendly, even if a child has eczema or other skin conditions.
2. PERFECT TEMPERATURE// What is temperature-regulation? Temperature regulation is wool’s ability to keep your baby’s body warm in colder temperatures and cool in hot weather.
Why is temperature regulation important? Up to around 18 months, babies find it hard to regulate their own temperature, especially if they are premature or have a low birth weight. This is due to the size of the surface area of their skin compared to their body weight. Little ones, especially if they are sick or were born prematurely can lose body heat quickly if they are not kept wrapped up. In fact, they need to be kept a little warmer than your average adult. And don’t forget, you can always feel your baby behind the nape of the neck and on the stomach to determine whether they are too hot.
When it’s cold. In cold weather, wool creates an insulating barrier by trapping warm air next to the skin and creating the perfect microclimate to retain heat. And also, just from personal experience, it does a great job at blocking wind, which is great for being out in the pram.
When it’s warm. It acts as a cooling barrier by wicking perspiration away in hot conditions. It may seem strange to us to use wool in the summer, but many Bedouins and Tuaregs use wool to keep the heat out! (They use camel and goat hair as well as sheep's wool.) This is why sheepskins are such a great choice for prams, strollers and carseats, keeping your baby comfortable and so making your life easier.
3. PROMOTES SLEEP// By far, one of wool’s most amazing features, it makes sleep more restful as the body does not need to spend energy to regulate temperature.
Moreover, according to this study, premature infants who nursed and slept on lambswool gained weight more rapidly than ones who used conventional cotton sheets. This phenomenon is explained by the fact that the texture of lambswool had a soothing effect on the infants, which led to lower metabolic activities. Swaddled in a Lambswool Baby Blanket which keeps them thermo-regulated at a comfortable temperature, they might even afford you a precious few extra hours’ sleep.
And it’s not just babies that benefit from sleeping in wool, it’s for you, too! In this 1984 Medical Article we found through Irina Webb, Richard Dickson, Ph.D. concluded that sleeping on a fleecy woolen underlay reduced postural activities during sleep, which led to a more rested sleep. And for the many of us who have aches and pains now and then, especially low back pain, you can see how wool was used for a remedy is this study.
4. SELF CLEANING, HYPOALLERGENIC & EASY TO WASH// This is due to its lanolin (wool fat) content, wool is naturally antibacterial.
As wool becomes moist, some of the lanolin converts to lanolin-soap, which helps keep the fabric hygienically clean! Combining this with it's self-cleaning properties (see the first point), you can begin to understand why wool doesn't get smelly. It smells fresh for ages.
Wool repels dirt, making it the perfect material for messy children! Wool is resistant to stains. Seriously, they just wipe off like magic. Due to wool's natural waxy film, liquid (ahem, baby spit up) sits on top of the material instead of absorbing into it. If it does stink, it is fully machine washable- just make sure to use an approved wool wash detergent, wash on a 30 degree cycle, and lay it flat to dry.
Enjoy this sneak peek of a colour soon to come!
5. ECO FRIENDLY// Wool is the best for the environment, as it is naturally biodegradable and sustainable. Upon decomposition, the material will break down in soil. Furthermore, wool is naturally produced and is available in abundance.
6. BETTER THAN SYNTHETIC// OKAY, we know we said 5, but we can’t stop!! Here’s a few freebies about why it’s such an amazing material, especially compared to cotton or synthetics!
Wool fibres can be bent and twisted over 30,000 times without breaking, while cotton can only bend 3,000 times. Wool is safer because it is fire-resistant. It's harder to ignite than most synthetic fibres and cotton. It has a low rate of flame spread, it doesn't melt, or drip, and if it does burn it creates a "char" which self-extinguishes. Wool is "bouncy" - the springiness of the fibres gives it good elasticity - it stretches really well and goes back into shape well too. This means that it's very easy to put on your baby - and to take off of course too. Much less fiddling around with arms and things. Making your baby happier, and your life easier (did we say this before?). No man-made fibre can yet duplicate all of the properties of natural wool. How did sheep do all that?