For the reasons already listed, a lot of our customers choose to use wool covers overnight. When your baby is going to wear the same diaper for 10-12 hours, breathability is important. Likewise, when your baby is going to wear the same diaper for 10-12 hours, absorbency is important. If you choose to use a wool diaper cover at night, go for something that is constructed from two layers of wool. Aristocrats wool pull-on soakers have a reputation as the tank of night-time diapering -- they are bulky, but the additional bulk translates into additional absorbency.
Night diapering aside, wool covers are also great for clearing up diaper rashes, due to their breathability. If your baby gets rashy (less likely in cloth diapers), nothing clears it up like air (have I ever mentioned my uncanny knack to talk customers out of a sale?). Through the day, you can give your baby some diaper-free time on an old blanket or a waterproof mattress pad (you may want to put a facecloth over baby boy's bits!), when baby has to be in a diaper, a wool cover is the next best option.
There is a perception that caring for wool diaper covers is hard because they must be hand-washed. Fortunately, wool is naturally anti-bacterial, so you only have to wash it as needed, which is usually only once every couple of weeks, or when it's been soiled with poop. For practical purposes, we do not recommend putting a newborn in wool when they are still pooping every 5 minutes -- not because of the hand-washing, but because wool takes 1-2 days to dry (for this reason, it's a good idea to have two covers in your stash). If you want to use wool covers with your newborn, plan to have extra covers on hand.
Hand-washing wool diaper covers is actually quite easy:
- put the cover in a sink with enough warm water to cover it.
- add some baby shampoo or woolwash to the sink, and massage the cover a few times in the water. Let the cover sit for about five minutes in the water.
- let the water drain out of the sink. If you washed the cover with baby shampoo, rinse it under running water. If you washed the cover with woolwash containing lanolin, do not rinse the cover, you want the lanolin to say in the wool, it's what makes the cover waterproof!
- gently wring as much water out of the cover as you can -- the more water you can get out, the faster the wool cover will dry. You can put the wool cover in your washing machine's 'spin' cycle to get more water out, or you could wrap it flat in a towel and sit on it, transferring the moisture from the cover to the towel.
- To dry the cover, lie it flat -- if you put the cover on a rack over a warm air return, you can decrease its drying time.
See, easy-peasy! If hand-washing still makes you nervous, we sell felted wool covers which can be laundered in your washing machine's 'delicate' cycle.
Wool covers contain lanolin, a naturally occurring oil that makes the wool waterproof. Your wool covers will need be re-lanolized periodically, moreso if you choose to wash them with baby shampoo (if you wash them with a woolwash that contains lanolin, you will be adding lanolin to the cover every time you wash it). If your wool cover starts to lose absorbency, you likely need to re-lanolize it.
Lanolizing is another easy process, you likely have what you need already. Many moms tend to have a partially-used tube of PureLan or Lansinoh, medical-grade pure lanolin that is used to treat sore nipples in those early days of breastfeeding (seriously, has anyone ever used a whole tube?) -- you can repurpose what you have left to lanolize your wool covers:
- fill a small lidded container (like a clean baby food jar) with boiling water, about 3/4 full.
- add a glob of lanolin to the jar, and a squirt of baby shampoo or woolwash, put the lid on, and give it a good shake to melt and disperse the lanolin.
- put your cover in a sink with enough warm water to cover it, and pour the lanolin mixture into the water. Massage the cover well to ensure it soaks up the lanolin, and drain the water (do not rinse).
Alternately, you can rub some lanolin between your palms to soften it, then massage the inside of your wool cover, working the melted lanolin from your hands into the fibers of the wool cover. If you don't have any lanolin around the house, we sell liquid lanolin and spray-on lanolin (yes, a shameless plug!).
When you make the switch to wool, it may take some getting used to. Some tips to make the transition successful:
- do not pair a wool cover with tight onesies, pants, or pyjamas. They will apply pressure to the cover, resulting in 'compression wicking' whereby moisture is basically squeezed out of the cover, resulting in damp clothing or pyjamas. For the same reason, wool is not ideal on long car trips.
- at night, ensure you are using a wool cover with an adequate diaper. A wool cover will enhance the performance of a good diaper, but it will not compensate for a diaper that is not absorbent enough.
- rotate between two wool covers to ensure covers dry completely between uses. By allowing two days drying time between each use, you will ensure your cover stands up to night-time use.
- if you're using a wool soaker or wool pants, turn it inside out to ensure it dries fully. I actually reverse the soaker every time I use it. Yes, that means I use it inside out, but don't knock 'til you try it!
If you're concerned about the scratchiness of wool, you can rest-assured that most wool covers are quite soft, and they get even softer as they are broken in. If you're concerned about temperate, rest-assured that wool is self-regulating, it's warm in the winter, and cool in the summer - your baby will always feel comfortable in a wool cover!
You don't have to buy wool covers, if you (or Grandma!) know how to knit, there are plenty of free patterns online, check out our DIY section for some great links. We're holding wool soaker workshops at our stores, the Waterloo workshop is filling up, details for our Ottawa workshop will be posted shortly.
I used wool diaper covers (old school Sugar Peas wool jersey, if you must know) on a regular basis with our second daughter, she was a peeing machine at night! I have recently been reacquainted with wool after Gracie battled a mean bout of diaper rash. It took a while to figure out the culprit, but we've narrowed it down to a new pair of footed fleece pyjamas that, combined with a pocket diaper at night, proved to be too warm for Gracie. She woke up with 30-50 fluid-filled blisters on her bum. She's back in cotton pyjamas at night, and we're pairing a wool cover a cotton prefold -- a simple, but effective combination!
I want someone else to feel the wool love, so I'm offering a start-up wool package with 2 (two!) Baby Beehind wool covers of your choice and a Sheepish Grins lanolin-rich woolwash bar. If you want a shot at this giveaway (contest open to Canadians only, eh?), simply leave a comment at the end of this post -- tell me what diaper combination you're using at night right now, I'll pick a random name on Friday, November 6th).