I’d been using cloth nappies for three and a half children before I tried my first wool wrap. It was a Flaparap (of course).
I’d been listening to whisperings about the wonder of wool wraps/soakers for a long long time and decided I’d better give them a go before I ran out of babies!
So I did my research, chose a fabric and made myself some boiled wool Flaparaps. To my surprise, they quickly became the favourites in my stash.
Shortly afterwards, we camped in France for four weeks and my 14 month old spent every night in her wool Flaparaps. They were brilliant! More brilliant than I was expecting, actually…
So here are the 10 things that surprised me about switching to wool.
(Some of these apply to wool nappy covers in general, and others are specific to Flaparaps – which are made from boiled wool fabric rather than being knitted to shape.)
1) Soakers aren’t meant to do any soaking.
At least, not any more…
It’s impossible to research wool nappy covers without seeing them called ‘wool soakers’. You see, long before disposables or plastic wraps, there were wool soakers. They looked like big fat pants knitted with large needles and chunky stitches.
In the days of yore, I expect they did soak up a wee before it hit the floor (mother’s tried to get their children out of terry squares and into wool pants as quickly as possible – well before they were a year old). But these days, people use wool soakers as a waterproof cover to be worn over the top of a cloth nappy – so they don’t do any ‘soaking’ at all.
Wool is absorbent – very absorbent – but when it’s treated with lanolin (the stuff that makes sheep waterproof) water beads against the fibres and doesn’t soak in. It’s remarkably effective!
2) Lanolising properly is ridiculously easy.
I chose the simplest method I could find: I used Little Pants soluble lanolin sachets.
Add one sachet to a jug of water. Add Flaparap. Go to bed. Sleep. Eat breakfast. Remove Flaparap. Squeeze. Lie on towel (you, your Flaparap, your baby – everyone can enjoy this step 😉 ).
Congratulate yourself on a job well done. When it’s time to re-lanolise, focus on the sleep, the breakfast and that rest on the towel and you’ll be looking forward to it long before your wrap stops being waterproof.
3) Wool wraps don’t smell.
Wool simply doesn’t pick up that smell of stale wee that seems to haunt synthetics and pads. Flaparaps are designed to hold one wee, but I used them at night with a heavy wetter so they took their fair share of soakings. And yet – no smell. You need to sniff it to believe it, really. It’s incredible.
4) Boiled wool isn’t itchy.
One of the main reasons I resisted wool for so long is because I find it itchy.
I hated my home knitted jumpers as a child.
I hated the 100% lambswool menswear-but-looks-like-school-uniform-how-cool-are-we Marks and Spencer’s jumper I owned (but didn’t wear) as a teenager.
I hated those wool blankets we had under our bedsheets as children ‘to protect the mattresses’ and I hated them all over again when I cut them up and stuffed them into pillow cases to make waterproof bed-pads for my own nappy free babies.
So I was gobsmacked to discover that boiled wool is soft, inert and inoffensive. I carried a toddling woolly bottom in the crook of my elbow for an entire French summer without being irritated once. At least, not by the woolly wrap… 😉
5) Boiled wool doesn’t unravel.
Knitted stuff unravels. You have to be careful with it and not catch a thread or you end up with a big hole. My mother drilled this into me, and my own kids have proved her right.
But boiled wool fabric is a bit like fleece… you can do what you like and it comes through in tact. It doesn’t even fray when cut.
As I didn’t have enough eyes to watch all of my children simultaneously, I could never be sure the little one wasn’t scraping her bottom along a tree / path / wall / pile of lego – and even if I had known I wouldn’t have done anything about it – so this put a big tick in the practicality box.
6) Washing boiled wool is easy.
(Even though it has to be hand washed…)
Mainly because of points 3,4 and 5, washing my wool Flaparaps wasn’t nearly as irksome as I feared.
The wool was pleasant to touch, so I didn’t put off sticking my hands in the bowl in the first place. It was robust so I could slosh it about and not worry that I was going to end up with a tangled mess of yarn rather than the wrap I started with. And it didn’t smell, so I didn’t need to wash it very often at all. Think weeks rather than days.
(By the time I discovered wool, my daughter was around 13 months old, so we didn’t have many wets a day and I changed those very quickly – but I was still impressed.)
7) Boiled wool doesn’t stretch out of shape.
At least, not as easily as a knitted garment.
Handy, because I’ve been known to pick a toddler up by their pants if they’re escaping at pace and I grab them at the last second 😉
8) So breathable you can breathe through them.
I test all waterproof ‘breathable’ fabric by trying to breathe through it – by which I mean: force air through it from my lips in the same way as I might tackle a trombone or an alpine horn.
But wool has such a web of holes you can see through it, never mind breathe through it.
When I designed Flaparaps, I tried to minimise the number of needle punctures to the PUL (waterproof) layer – if you’ve got a hole, you can get a leak. And if you’ve got a leak, you’ve got a problem. With wool the needle doesn’t even make a hole – it simply finds one that was already there.
If you’re used to disposables or PUL wraps, wool is quite literally a breath of fresh air.
9) Lanolised wool is waterproof.
Not that fickle ‘protects the outside world from a dampish nappy’ kind of ‘waterproof’ that caught me out with fleece (despite what the internet had promised me), but actually waterproof.
If you let your baby flood her Flaparap with a massive night wee <ahem>, you know that wetness has got to go somewhere – and in that case the wool will absorb a bit and your mattress will mop up the rest. But in normal use, with an averagely wet pad on an active baby, it’s dry outside.
10) Still super trim!
Well, wool Flaparaps are – I can’t vouch for soakers or longies or boardies or any other funky variety of chunky woolly nappy cover. But wool Flaparaps will roll into a tidy little cylinder to tuck into your bum bag, just like the any other Flaparap.
In short, wool Flaparaps are ace. Give ’em a go! Before you run out of children too 😉
– Born Ready Jenn.