As a knitter and cloth diaperer, I have known about wool diaper covers since early in my cloth diapering career. I had not used it until recently and I am so glad I finally got started with it! Addy, in the picture above, is obviously stoked about her new wool cover. (Or maybe it’s the fact that she’s barely dressed. But I like to think it’s because of the new cover.)
A wool diaper cover is not the same hot, itchy material as that sweater in the back of your closet. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. Wool can be soft as silk, is always completely breathable, and can be waterproofed. Wool also does not need to be washed as frequently as other materials. A wool diaper cover only needs to be washed (and lanolinized — more on that later) every 2-4 weeks. You’ll know it’s time to wash when you notice a funky smell or get a leak.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to wool over PUL (and way over disposables) is how well it breathes. Disposables are plastic. Just like the plastic bag in which bread is stored, it is essentially airtight. Great for bread — keeps it from getting stale in less than a day. Bad for skin — gives a lot of little bums rashes. PUL is a laminate-coated polyester. PUL is permeable to air but not to liquid. Waterproof, but not airtight. And wool, being a natural fiber, is even more breathable than PUL. A lot of rash-prone babies have marked improvement with the use of wool covers.
The waterproof aspect of wool is the most amazing. Wool comes from sheep. Sheep produce an oil called lanolin that coats their wool, protecting the sheep from the weather. Sheep are waterproof in the same way ducks and geese are; water rolls right off. When wool is sheered from the sheep and processed into textiles, the lanolin is removed and the wool is no longer waterproof. Lanolin is sold as a soothing, moisturizing skin treatment for humans. It is most often specifically marketed towards breastfeeding mothers. Lansinoh is a name brand of pure lanolin you can find at just about any store that sells baby products. You will usually find it near bottles and breastfeeding gear. A pea-sized amount of this magic ointment dissolved in hot water is enough to coat a wool cover, waterproofing it for several weeks. It seems unbelievable. Especially when you feel a wool cover. It simply does not seem possible that it could hold moisture.
You do need a diaper with the wool — it functions as a diaper cover, not as a diaper. So put your favorite fitted, insert, flat, or prefold on your monster, put the wool on over it, and say goodbye to rashes. Wool covers are especially beneficial at night, when the same diaper is worn for 8-12 hours. Some people who have had leak troubles at night have found a successful nighttime solution with wool as well.
The downside to wool is its care. PUL is so convenient; you can wash and dry it with the rest of your diapers. Wool cannot be machine washed. It must be hand washed in warm (but not hot) water, soaked with lanolin, and then laid flat to dry. The good news is this only needs to happen once every 2-4 weeks (or in the event of the cover being soiled).
Interested? Wool covers will be part of the Monster Pants line up in the next few weeks. If you absolutely cannot wait or have a rash problem that needs immediate attention, contact me for an early bird order.
Have you heard of wool in cloth diapering or used it before?