Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Synthetic vs Natural Fabrics

Twenty years ago synthetic fabrics were common in the making of baby clothing. However poor quality and few governmental standards lead to poor safety in many baby clothing and bedding products. The resulting publicity and tightening of regulations lead to a resurgence in the use of natural material such as cotton. Synthetic fabrics though, have come a long way in technical development and resulting safety.

Fabric manufacturing has advanced immensely and now produces incredible products. Some fabrics can change colour to the touch, others keep water out but allow moisture to escape. Among these ‘smart fabrics’ fleece is among the smartest and its benefits outshine those of more traditional cotton and flannelette fabrics.

So what is fleece then? Fleece is basically a synthetic, 100% polyester fabric with an “altered” fibre structure. This unique way of creating the fibres and the fabric result in the ability of the fabric to transfer moisture through itself (wicking) from the baby’s skin to the outside of the garment.

While cotton is a great fabric for some things, it is also a porous fabric and absorbs moisture holding it against a baby’s skin. This means when cotton fabrics get wet, they will stay wet --and clammy. They become uncomfortable and uncomfortable children become cranky. Further, cotton’s properties hinder the evaporation process which is important for keeping baby’s temperature at an appropriate level. In the winter it will make baby cold, in the summer too hot. Fleece breathes well and comes in a variety of weights appropriate to different seasons and climes—Vancouver rain or Whistler snow! Parents in the know are aware of these advances and use fleece to keep their baby warm and snug.

Fleece’s characteristics –
  • Highly breathable – keeps baby dry. No rashes etc Highly breathable to provide comfort in all activities; does not restrict the movement of moisture vapour this idea links to the next benefit)
  • Provides warmth without weight – great for long days. In the baby bag etc
  • Pill resistant – stays soft and comfortable against baby’s skin even after many washings
  • Low maintenance and durable, cleans ‘messes food etc” less laundry time = more play time
  • Virtually stain-proof
  • Great for colour retention
  • A quick-drying fabric
  • Machine washable/dryable
  • Very SOFT and COMFY

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