What bedding is best for a newborn baby?
What should we choose to envelop our precious new bundle of joy? What fabrics are healthiest and safest for baby to wear and sleep in? What kind of bedding should a newborn baby have?
On receiving the exciting news of an imminent new arrival, family and friends rally around to source gorgeous items to gift to the parents to be. Surely polyester, polar or plush fleece blankets in an array of colours, with their softer-than-a-kitten fabric, seem the most skin-friendly, long-lasting and easy-care gift a new parent can wish for.
But, no, this is the last gift anyone with a new baby could ask for. And this is why...
A newborn baby’s skin is 30% thinner than an adult’s, and also its surface area is three times greater than adults compared to its relative weight. This means they can lose heat very rapidly, as much as four times faster than of an adult.
It is so thin, it is very susceptible to temperature changes. Our skin is our personal thermostat that regulates our bodies’ temperature. This ability is not fully formed yet in a baby, who relies on their carers to perform this juggling act. Dr Bruce Epstein MD, a paediatrician from the US, explains that when a baby is asleep and hot, it will sleep more soundly making them more difficult to wake. Although there are many factors that are potentially attributed to SIDS, overheating is one of them. Using polyester plush fleece blankets can lead to overheating.
The skin is our body’s largest organ, and as such is our first line of defence against the world protecting us from allergens and irritants, and of course it keeps the vital bits inside - inside. It is covered with specialised immune cells that live in the skin and are on patrol for recognizing intruders, sending out messages to stimulate a combat defence by recruiting specialised white blood cells from blood vessels in the skin to deal with any invaders. To dress or use baby bedding that is made of polyester or man-made synthetic textiles means their skin will be in direct to contact with potential pollutants. Often newborn bedding made from polyester is treated chemically to make it flame retardant. It is also colour dyed, often with unregulated toxic dyes. Babies discover the small world around them by touch and in many cases by mouthing objects, so sucking on these chemically produced products is obviously not good for them. We don’t want traces of these toxins in our perfect mini-humans.
Polyester is a man-made synthetic fibre, derived from petroleum. As most of us are aware, washing and using polyester clothing and bedding sheds microplastics that fill the air and water, which we and all other fauna in the world can’t avoid ingesting. We still don’t know the full implications for our health and that of the planet, but common sense dictates its not good. Polyester products are extremely cheap, and this has led to the fabric being adopted for so many clothing and newborn bedding articles. It accounts for almost half of all of the world’s fibre market. According to a New Textiles Exchange Economy report 2017 (https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/TE_PFM-Benchmark_Annual-Insights-Report-2017.pdf), an estimated 342 million barrels of oil are used every year to produce this textile, making it a huge greenhouse gas emitter and three times that of cotton..
A phrase often used to keep baby safe and comfortable is ‘cool in summer and warm in winter’. We need to provide breathable, natural clothing and baby bedding to maintain skin health and to help babies’ bodies to regulate their body temperature naturally. Natural fibres do this perfectly, as they have done since the dawn of humans and have kept the mammals snug in the cold and cool in the heat, from before we walked the earth.
Newborn bedding guide
Perfect natural fibres for a baby include cotton, wool, cashmere, linen and bamboo. They all perform the task of ‘cool in summer, warm in winter’ perfectly. Advice is to layer blankets in the cot, so layers can be removed or added according to environmental conditions.
We realise that not everyone can afford to buy the more expensive natural fibre clothing, bedding and blankets, but with a bit of ingenuity, everyone can find these products and do not need to resort to new cheap man-made products that are bad for your baby. Cotton sheets for the crib can be made from cotton or linen adult bed sheets that have perhaps worn out in some areas or have a tear in them - therefore re-purposing and recycling. These will be perfectly good as a bottom sheet in the crib. eBay, online selling sites and charity shops will have a host of good quality clothing and baby blankets. The Wool Company often sells slightly marked or imperfect cotton and wool baby blankets on eBay, that are cheaper than their ‘perfect’ counterparts. And then there are your friends and relatives, with bags of ‘you never know’ baby items carefully stored away in the loft or cupboard. You can ‘help’ these people out with uncluttering their homes!
The Wool Company is passionate about natural fibres. For the new arrival, why not look at the most useful item in the nursery to help soothe your baby and help them sleep longer and more soundly; choose one of our baby sheepskins or cot bed mattress toppers - so portable, they help with settling baby even in unfamiliar surroundings. They make a really practical, long-lasting and thoughtful gift. These ‘sheepies’ usually end up in their ‘big’ bed when they have outgrown the cot.
What are the best blankets for a newborn? For our range of super cute, practical, soft and snuggly, but breathable blankets, take a look at our cotton baby blankets
or for cooler weather, take a peek at our wool baby blankets