Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy with their fashion choices, nowadays ensuring a sustainable and traceable supply chain is a key concern. Likewise the choice of materials used has garnered attention in recent years. The 1980s’ obsession with manmade fabrics – remember the joy of shellsuits and Lycra aerobics leotards – three decades later looks crass, and the advantages of natural fabrics have been rediscovered.
Organic fabrics are a recent trend and help ensure the land on which the fibres are originally grown are preserved in as natural a state as possible, encouraging wildlife such as bees to flourish. The decreasing amount of diversity in agricultural fields is of considerable concern, and the implementation of organic chains of production helps protect indigenous insects.
When dressing skin as delicate as a baby’s it’s definitely worth sourcing natural fibres wherever possible to allow the skin to breathe. Nightwear should be cool cotton to allow self-regulation of body temperature – fleece can cause overheating and should be avoided. Linen is another breathable fabric that produces soft but breathable clothing; warm in winter and cool in summer it’s extremely versatile.
Keeping warm is just as important as keeping cool for little ones. Natural wool is a fantastic material for children. Naturally water resistant and highly insulating, wool can be used for little accessories (scarves, gloves, baby hats etc.) right up to the essential winter coat. And it’s not just sheep’s wool that can be used, alpaca wool is naturally hypoallergenic as it does not contain lanolin, making it a great choice for children with sensitive skin, such as eczema sufferers.
Shoes should be leather wherever possible as they will stretch and grow with the child’s feet, preventing damage to delicate little joints. Sheepskin boots are another brilliant choice for keeping tiny toes warm. Given the recent trend for sheepskin boots for grownups, it’s tempting to go for matching ‘mini me’ pairs: one for mum one for baby.
There are however some occasions when only manmade materials will do (wellies for example) but by ensuring the bulk of baby’s wardrobe comprises natural fabrics, baby’s skin will be able to breath and they’ll be able to regulate their body temperature better. And as with most things these days it’s best to buy local where the option exists. This supports local businesses and, with organic materials, local wildlife too – something you can explain to baby as they grow and start to learn about the natural world.