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Merino for Babies and Children - The Sleep Store Guide

Merino for Babies and Children - The Sleep Store Guide

What is Merino?

Merino is a natural wool fibre that comes from Merino sheep. Known, for it's softness and versatility, merino is nature's wonder fibre. It's grown year round using sustainable farming practices and has a very light environmental footprint, especially when compared with synthetics. All it takes is sun, water, air and grass to grow new merino wool every year.

Merino is measured in microns and is divided into categories which can determine the quality and use of the wool. (Thanks to At The Sleep Store we use extra fine merino (19.5 microns) in all our merino sleeping bags and merino clothing & sleepwear. All our merino styles are accredited by Woolmark.

What is a micron of wool?

Merino wool is measured in microns which is the diameter of the merino fibre. The lower the micron, the finer the merino and at The Sleep Store, our merino clothing & sleepwear styles are 19.5 microns. This is known as 'extra fine merino' and all The Sleep Store styles are accredited by Woolmark.

What makes merino wool so wonderful?

Here at The Sleep Store, we believe using breathable, naturally temperature regulating clothing and bedding with your baby is best and merino is the perfect fibre to achieve this. Recent research also suggests that babies sleep better in wool and merino wool in particular is a bit of a wonder fibre! Here are just some reasons by merino is so wonderful:

  • Breathable & temperature regulating
  • Moisture wicking
  • Renewable
  • Easy care
  • Long lasting & sustainable

Why is merino wool so popular?

Merino has the same qualities as wool - but supercharged! Merino fibre is much finer than ordinary wool, it's silky soft, so it doesn’t itch; it’s lightweight, resists odour and is snuggly warm but never too hot because it's breathable. It really is the ultimate fibre for being next to your child’s skin (Mums and Dads like it too!). On top of this, it's easy care, long lasting and sustainable and who doesn't want to be kinder to our planet?

With merino you get what you pay for. The best brands use high-quality superfine merino fibres. They are softer, warmer, less bulky and more durable. Looked after properly, your Sleep Store, Mokopuna and Icebreaker products will last years and several children, so are a good investment.

Is merino wool safe for babies?

Merino is a natural fibre and perfect for babies in so many ways. It's breathable and can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water, meaning the baby won't be clammy or overheat - they'll be just the right temperature. Merino will also remain warm when wet, so if there’s an overnight leak, having a merino layer next to the skin can help keep baby warm as it wicks the moisture away. Merino is also resistant to mould, mildew and bacteria; which helps create a healthy sleeping environment.

Having a higher ignition point than synthetics makes merino an ideal choice for babies. Due to its higher water content, merino is slower to ignite and won't melt like synthetic fibres such as polyester or nylon, so will not do as much damage to the skin. It's an ideal layer for babies to wear next to the skin.

What's the difference between The Sleep Store merino options?

We offer a range of different merino weights and styles. Here are the main differences:

Jersey NZ Merino (Capsule Collection)
This beautifully soft NZ merino has been chosen especially for newborns. It is 18.5 micron extra fine merino and is the lightest of all our merino at 180gsm. The feel is similar to our standard jersey merino, these garments are super smooth and very soft with a comfortable stretch to it. This is the only merino in our range which offers prints.

Jersey Merino
The jersey merino is super smooth and soft, feels like high quality t-shirt fabric and has a comfortable stretch to it - not as much as the deluxe merino rib. Great for all year round at 200gsm.

Deluxe Merino Rib
This is a rib knit merino meaning it's structure is made up of rows of stitching. This gives this merino a really beautiful stretch with cross grain elasticity. It is so soft and great for all year round at 220gsm.

Deluxe Merino Fleece
The most fluffy fleecy softness on the inside, with a sweatshirt look on the outside, and most definitely the warmest of them all at 360gsm.

What's ideal nursery temperature?

The ideal temperature for a child’s room is between 18-20 degrees. While this may feel a little chilly to you, your littlies will sleep better in a cooler room with warm layers close to the body. Rooms should be kept above 18 degrees to help prevent respiratory problems.

The temperature dips in the early hours, so if your little one starts to wake around 5am then he is probably having a hard job getting back to sleep because of the cold. Using the right weight sleeping bag, wool bedding and merino layers can really help you both get a great night’s sleep. And don’t forget socks! We have lots of feedback from customers for whom adding a pair of Woolbabe Sleepy Socks has meant their baby sleeps through again.

Watch Lou talk about merino and its benefits for your baby

We love merino at The Sleep Store. What is so wonderful about this fabric? Why is it so helpful in allowing your baby or child to sleep longer and easier? Did you even know it's fire-resistant?

How do I care for my merino?

Because merino is odour and bacteria resistant it doesn’t need to be washed too often; just when it looks grubby. Sleeping bags like a good air over the cot bars in the day. You can handwash or use the gentle wool cycle in your washing machine.

Traditional detergents, soakers or bleaches will eat holes in your merino garments. Always use an approved wool detergent like the ecostore wool wash. Merino dries really fast in the shade and some types of merino can even go in the dryer on low - see the garment’s care instructions for details.

Taking care of your merino will ensure it easily last for multiple babies.

Watch Lou discuss how to care for your merino

How often do I need to wash merino?

As parents we have enough washing as it is! One of the great things about merino is you don't need to wash it often. For sleeping bags, simply airing it each day is enough (unless you've had a dreaded nappy explosion!) and for clothing items, washing when soiled is enough - merino is naturally resistant to soiling and odour so needs to be washed less often - now that's a win!

Will merino shrink in the wash?

To preserve your merino items, they should be washed on a cold gentle wool cycle and they should not be placed in a dryer as this may cause shrinkage.

Can babies wear merino in summer?

Yes! Because merino is so breathable it can also be cooling in the warmer months. And the fact that it can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water means it can draw sweat away from the body without making baby clammy and cold.

Is merino good for kids with eczema or sensitive skin?

Most wee ones with mild to moderate eczema can wear superfine merino comfortably. Choose Sleep Store, Icebreaker or Mokopuna merino items. When my eldest was a baby it actually helped his eczema. As an eczema baby he had a tendency to overheat and was grumpy and itchy if he was too hot. With a merino layer next to the skin I was confident he was warm enough without too many layers and he wouldn’t overheat. If your baby suffers from severe eczema then we recommend you use cotton or bamboo next to the skin, and tencel can be really useful for bedding. Merino is gentle on even the most sensitive skin.

Watch Lou discuss merino & sensitive skin:

Is merino better than cotton?

Merino and cotton are both lovely, natural fibres for babies and we recommend parents have a mix of both items. Merino, however, is better at regulating babies temperature and its high water absorption compared to its weight means it won't become damp and clammy if your baby is too hot.

Both merino and cotton can be machine washed, and merino has the added benefit of resisting soiling, so needs to be washed less often, a simple air out can be all it needs.

If you can get just one merino item, we recommend a long sleeve merino bodysuit for its versatility - great next to the skin and can be used for layering.

Why are merino items not TOG rated?

Merino bags are not tog rated, as they are natural fibre which adjusts according to temperature. This is one of the reasons natural fibre Merino sleeping bags are so popular. Sleeping bags that have Merino in them, like the Woolbabe are fantastic at adjusting to a wider range of room temperatures because of the use of naturally temperature regulating merino.

What is merino fleece?

Merino fleece is completely different from what you may remember as 'polar fleece' from your childhood. Merino fleece is created by brushing from 100% merino wool, to 'fluff' it up, making it extra soft and snuggly. This is miles away from polar fleece, made from synthetic material which can easily overheat your baby and should be avoided.

Is merino fleece different to polar fleece?

Yes! Merino fleece is made from merino wool and is 100% natural, whereas polar fleece is made from synthetic fabric. Polar fleece doesn't breathe and can easily overheat a baby. We never recommend polar fleece for babies.

Watch Lou discuss Merino fabric vs Thermals

Best in Wool at The Sleep Store

Our hand-picked merino clothing, sleepwear and sleeping bag ranges feature hundreds of merino wool styles.

Woolbabe is the number one choice for parents looking for a high-quality sleeping bag made with Merino and The Sleep Store double layer merino bags are also a popular choice. We also offer other merino options by Babu and Nature Baby. See our guide on choosing the right sleeping bag here.

Blankets are a must-have and you'll find a huge selection in a range of sizes. They're not just for the cot or bassinet, but are also great to take out and about in the buggy & whilst travelling in the car. Alongside our own 100% superfine merino fleece blankets you'll find much-loved styles from NZ Wool Blankets, Babu and more.

Once your little one is ready to move up to a big bed you'll find that a wool underlay and a wool duvet inner (when they're old enough) can make a huge difference to the quality of their sleep, helping them to stay cosy through the night. In addition to our award-winning range of Sleep Store bedding you'll find designs by Fairydown. Read our 'How much bedding does baby need' guide and watch our Facebook live video about bassinet and cot bedding.

Getting the little things right can make a huge difference to the quality of a sleep. Merino clothing basics such as bodysuits, singlets, onesies, pyjamas and socks are all essential items for any little one's wardrobe and are perfect for laying at night. The Sleep Store has our own range of superfine 100% merino basics that are incredible value and will last for more than one child. We also have styles by Babu and Nature Baby plus clothing for big kids & adults from Icebreaker. The merino fleece sleepwear has been described as 'totally lush' and you'll struggle to get your little ones out of it come morning! Don't forget to keep big and little toes toasty with our range of Lamington socks and tights.

Where to next?

At The Sleep Store we LOVE wool! We have everything you need to keep your family snuggly this winter.