When it comes to night nappies, woollen covers have always been one of my favourite options. They are also great during the day, and if you are looking to use a totally natural cloth nappy system, then woollen nappy covers are the ideal choice. So, here is a bit more information about woollen nappy covers and how to use them.
How woollen nappy covers work
Woollen nappy covers are a little different to most other nappy covers on the market, this is because they do not act as a waterproof layer. Instead, wool actually absorbs quite a lot of water, it can absorb up to 32% of it’s own body weight in water. This is actually more than cotton will hold, which absorbs around 25% of it’s weight in water. You may think that this would actually make it perfect to make a cloth nappy out of, but here is where the big difference is. Most cloth nappy fabrics, such as cotton, hemp and bamboo can be totally dried out, wool on the other hand absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and is always carrying at least 16% of it’s body weight of moisture. Any less than this and the fibres become too brittle and break.
It’s actually this quality though that makes it a good nappy cover, rather than repelling the liquid, the way that a PUL cover would do, a woollen cover actually absorbs a small amount of it, and then allows it to evaporate. You may find with a woollen cover that you do get a very small amount of dampness, but as long as you don’t have tight fitting clothes over the top, then you shouldn’t have any leaks or wet patches. The wool is also totally breathable, and regulates temperature, so the cloth nappy does not become too hot in the summer, or too cold in winter, even when very wet.
When to use wool nappy covers
Woollen longies or trousers look great over cloth nappies and can be used as pants in their own right, so you don’t need to dress your little one in anything else on their lower half. For over night use though, woollen nappy covers really come into their own. Because they are so breathable, they are far healthier than a PUL covered alternative for a nappy that you want to last 12 hours. Although PUL covers are breathable, and won’t harm your little one, woollen nappy covers will keep the temperature constant, and are far more breathable. If your little one is suffering from nappy rash due to teething or other similar problems, then the woollen covers are far better for their skin. Woollen nappy covers are also great over night because they can cope with a nappy that contains a large amount of liquid, and even with heavy wetting toddlers, as long as you have enough absorbency, they are the most reliable cover for your cloth nappy. The work well over both fitted cloth nappies that need a cover and flat or prefold nappies.
How to care for woollen soakers
Woollen nappy covers or soakers as they are also sometimes known, need a little extra care, compared to other types of nappy covers. Being made of wool, you cannot just throw them into your washing machine. Having said this, you will not need to wash your covers often, as long as they don’t have any poo on them, and are just damp, you can simply air them between uses. You should find that there is no smell. If you find that they start to smell a bit then you will need to re-lanolise them. Lanolin is a natural substance found in wool that helps the water absorption/repelling qualities. As I mentioned before, wool covers actually absorb some liquid. On their outer layer they have oils that create a water repellent layer, this stops them from absorbing too much water, which again helps them as nappy covers. As this wears away they may become slightly less effective and will start to hold onto smells. Simply hand wash your nappy cover in a wool wash and then soak in a bucket of water containing a small amount of wool wash or even washing up liquid and about a large pea size blob of lanolin. Any pure lanolin will do, and if you have an left over nipple cream made of pure lanolin, then that is fine. Soak for around about two hours, or even over night if you prefer and then dry flat. You shouldn’t need to do this more than once every couple of months.
Where to get woollen covers
We sell some woollen covers on the nappyneedz website, see here although these tend to be one off items and we don’t stock them as standard. You can buy woollen soakers from various sites such as trademe or other craft sites. If you can knit, or know someone who can, then they are fairly easy to make yourself. The key thing to remember is that you need to use at least 75% pure wool. 100% pure wool is best though, and ideally hand wash only. There are lots of patterns available on line, many of which are free, search Ravelry for ideas. I have a simple, free, flat knit pattern here, I’d love to see some pictures if you make it.
Do you use woollen nappy covers? How do you find them?