There's nothing quite like the feeling of snuggling up with a newborn baby. We want them to be cozy and comfortable, which for knitters means seeing them swaddled head to toe in handknit hats, sweaters, booties, and blankets. We just can’t wait to cast on something soft and fabulous.
Babies don’t get much of a say in this matter, but if they did, they would ask for soft merino wool and wool blends.
New parents often shy away from wool though. Many are afraid of allergies to start, and they want easy-care. I mean what new parent has time to hand wash baby clothes???
Still, I think wool and wool blends are some of the best fibers for baby blankets and clothing. Let’s look at why wool is a great choice for babies, debunk the myth of wool allergies, and help you find the perfect easy-care wool yarn for your next project.
Wool Helps Regulate Baby's Body Temperature
One of the key reasons that wool is an excellent choice for babies is its ability to regulate body temperature. Wool fibers are crimped, which creates tiny pockets of air within the material. These pockets trap heat close to the body, keeping the baby warm in cooler temperatures. When it's warmer, the wool fibers wick moisture away from the body, keeping the baby cool and dry. Wool’s ability to adapt to different temperatures makes it a great choice for year-round wear in most any climate.
How Wool Regulates Body Temperature
We've already touched on how wool's crimped fibers help regulate body temperature, but there's more to the story. In addition to trapping heat close to the body, wool is also able to absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling wet. This means that if the baby does sweat, the wool will absorb the moisture and move it away from the body to keep the baby dry and comfortable. Additionally, wool is naturally antibacterial, which means that it resists odors and bacteria growth.
It's worth noting that not all wool is created equal. Extrafine merino is particularly soft, especially if it’s been spun in a worsted style which makes the yarn smooth and less likely to have any prickly fiber ends sticking out.
The Wool Allergy Myth
One common concern about knitting with wool for babies is the possibility of an allergic reaction, however, it's important to note that actual wool allergies are actually quite rare. In fact, wool itself is actually hypoallergenic, which means that it's unlikely to cause irritation or allergies in babies.
You will definitely want to choose a yarn that’s very smooth and soft to the touch, because although a baby may not be allergic to wool, poor quality yarns of any fiber can cause irritation to sensitive skin. As I mentioned, look for quality merino and merino blends because studies have shown that superfine merino actually produces less irritation in infants than other fibers.
Easy Care Wool and Wool Blend Yarns for Babies
Let’s face it, babies are messy, and new parents are busy, which means that the garments and accessories you make will get lots of washing and new parents are already busy. First, wool is naturally dirt and stain resistant, so it doesn’t need heavy-duty washing. But you will want to choose a yarn that can withstand a trip through the machine on the handwash setting, or on the delicate setting. Always set the temperature to cool and use a delicate cleanser like SOAK which is easier on both your fabrics and on baby’s skin.
You can also consider the many wool and wool blend yarns available that are easy to care for and can be machine-washed and dried.
Favorite wool and wool blend yarns for babies
One of my favorite yarns for babies is Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino. This yarn is a blend of merino wool, cashmere, and acrylic, which makes it both soft and easy to care for. It's machine-washable and can be tumble-dried on a low heat, which makes it a great choice for busy parents. Additionally, it comes in a wide range of colors, which makes it easy to find the perfect shade for your baby's wardrobe.
Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino is comfortable at a gauge anywhere between 22 and 25 stitches per 4", so it's perfect for a variety of baby patterns, including the Bloom collection designed especially for this yarn.
Another wool blend that I love is Rowan Cotton Wool. This dk weight yarn is a blend of 60% cotton and 40% wool and is as soft as a cloud. Perfect for summertime babies, it comes in a lovely palette. Erika Knight designed a wonderful collection specifically for Rowan Cotton Wool.
If you prefer to knit at a more traditional baby gauge, I like Tea Time Fibers Early Grey yarn which is a fingering weight blend of extrafine Merino and nylon and is machine wash, tumble dry.
What are your favorite yarns for babies? Tell me in the comments. I love to hear your thoughts!
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