As a parent, especially as a mother, baby and kid clothes are one of the most regular items in your shopping carts. Hence, it is essential to understand the fabrics that you pick up for your children.
As with everything, fabric choices evolve as babies go to toddlers and then to kids. Babies and preemies do need extra care, after all, they have just three layers of skin compared to seven layers in adults. Extra soft swaddles, bedding, outfits and in short anything touching the baby are required to be super soft during infancy, especially in the first three months of life. For babies with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or some form of eczema, non drying clothing needs is preferred.
Here are natural fabrics, and what do they mean for kids:
Cotton is easily the most preferred fabric for babies and kids because of its high breathability and drying capabilities. It’s a soft fabric, and wicks moisture like no other. Organic cotton is softer than regular cotton, and more eco-friendly.
The cooling properties of cotton make it a great fabric for all seasons and the go to fabric for the first year of life. But all cotton is not equal. Cotton comes in over 90 varieties from 60 Thread Count to over 400. Higher thread count indicates more weaves per unit area. The common perception is higher the thread count, thinner and softer the cotton, which is true, but only to a point. Anything above 200 Thread Cotton would be great for your baby.
Cotton is also great from a care and durability perspective. As babies become toddlers, and mothers scout for stylish outfits, cotton may sometimes not be able to give the right drape to a dress or a frock. This is the reason cotton blends with wool, silk, polyester etc. maybe needed.
While little baby dresses, rompers, bonnets, blouses, pants, little skirts, shorts etc. are preferred in cotton, gowns, party frocks, especially after year one need a pick from the wider variety on the fabric palette.
Cottons get a strong thumbs up during year one and go strong in toddler and kids play time wardrobe, especially during hot weather. For occasion wear, blending them or going with another fabric is a tempting option to get the right drape.
For babies with eczema, cottons, especially soft mulmul cottons are great choices, but they do get a strong competition from silk.
Silk is another great natural fabric, and makes an excellent choice for babies with eczema or related conditions. Silk is smooth, luxurious, good looking, and has some great hidden properties.
Babies are easily prone to allergies and silk helps in soothing those allergies. Silk is anti-microbial in nature. While other materials can lead to increased friction with your child’s skin – silk has a natural characteristic to promote regrowth. Not to forget, it is great at temperature regulation - so your baby is never going to overheat or feel cold. Silk can be used to make smooth and lightweight innerwear for kids.
Silk, however, has a tendency to stick to the skin and retains odor, making it inappropriate for extreme outdoor playtime and hot sticky days. Also, hand wash is preferred for silk clothing, making it a second choice for busy mothers.
It may surprise a few, but wool is a good option for kids' clothing. We know you might be reminded of wool being scratchy. Wool could be one of the best natural fabrics for your baby is going to be dressed in, if the wool is high quality and natural.
Though wool is not as breathable as cotton or linen, wool has good moisture wicking and temperature regulation capabilities. At the same time, it is stain resistant.
Wool is highly durable, water resistant, wrinkle repellent, elastic, fire resistant, soft, has a great drape, and absorbs odor. Wool is uniquely suited for certain applications that cotton isn’t suited for.
One should always turn to high quality wool outfits for kids as they are suitable all the year round.
Linen is a natural fabric also known as Flax fabric. Linen is a natural insulator and releases excess humidity, making babies and kids feel nice, comfortable and cozy.
Linen is breathable, durable and a great fabric for hot and humid climates, and has a lower environmental impact than cotton. Linen clothes however are not as soft as pure cotton, so these enter your kids wardrobe once the kid is beyond infancy.
Linen clothes are expensive compared to cotton because of the process of making the fabric. Linens are easy to care for, and also are great for hypersensitivity and eczema.
Other tips for things to watch out for while buying baby and kids clothes:
- Opt for pre-shrunk fabrics. This would ensure better fits, and less bleeds during wash and care.
- Prefer natural fabrics to synthetic ones. Cottons, Linen, Silk, Wool and their blends rank way higher to any of their synthetic cousins in the kids world.
- Try and stay clear of itchy labels, especially for babies younger than 18 months.
- Choose fabric based on the utility of the dress - all play wear necessarily needs to be breathable, easy to move in and light, occasion wear needs to be bought keeping in mind the length of the occasion and care instructions.