It’s easy to think baby and children’s clothing is a tiny version of adult apparel. There’s one huge difference, though. The fabric used needs to withstand the energy of a child and yet be soft enough to protect delicate skin. So what is the best fabric for baby and children’s clothes?
The best fabrics for baby and children’s clothing are natural and organic fibers. Younger skin can be sensitive, so clothing needs to be soft and gentle. To be suitable for kids, fabric needs to be durable and hypoallergenic. Among the best natural choices are cotton, linen, and bamboo.
This article will look at the important properties a fabric used in children’s wear needs to have. As well as explain why some fabrics are safer than others.
- Things to Consider When Choosing Fabric for Baby and Children’s Clothes
- What Properties Do Baby and Children’s Wear Need?
- Can You Use Organic Fabric for Baby Clothes?
- Best Fabric for Baby and Children’s Clothes
- What Is the Softest Kid-Friendly Fabric?
- Which Is the Best Fabric for Babies Under 6 Months?
- Is Polyester Good/Safe for Babies?
- What Are the Worst Fabrics for Baby and Children’s Wear?
Things to Consider When Choosing Fabric for Baby and Children’s Clothes
One of the most important things to consider when choosing fabric for babies and children’s wear is the adaptability and usability of the material. There are many kid-orientated designs on the market in a range of different fibers. Unfortunately, not all the fabrics aimed at youngsters are suitable for clothing.
A lot of the fabrics will have a warning in the selvage saying, “Not suitable for sleepwear”, or “keep away from heat sources”. This means the material has not been tested to ensure it’s safe to use for apparel.
Keeping away from heat sources can be especially worrying as this could indicate the fabric is not flame retardant. It could be dangerous to make clothing for children with it as it may melt or burn if they get too close to a fire. You don’t want to make clothes out of this kind of fabric, even if it has cute little dinosaurs printed on it.
Another thing to think about is the flexibility of the fabric. Babies, in particular, spend a lot of time sleeping. They tend to move around as they sleep. So much so, they may end up facing the opposite direction! If their clothes are too rigid, this movement can cause the fabric to bunch up underneath them. Or worse, tighten around their bodies, causing discomfort and sores.
When it comes to babies and children, clothing needs to tick several boxes. It needs to be soft enough to be comfortable next to sensitive skin. Yet strong enough to withstand the toughest activities a child can do while wearing it.
What Properties Do Baby and Children’s Wear Need?
Finding a fabric that can do all the things kids wear needs can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at some of the properties to bear in mind when looking for suitable material.
Natural vs. Artificial
It used to be said only natural fibers should be used for baby and children’s wear. Artificial fibers with their plastic origins had long been dismissed as suitable materials for children. The fibers were sweaty, suffocating, and too cold for a child’s delicate skin. These days, this isn’t necessarily true.
Natural and artificial fibers each have their good and bad points. Neither is bad for baby clothes. Today’s artificial fabrics have improved since they were first introduced. So much so, it can be tricky to tell an artificial fabric from a natural one, particularly if the fabric is a blend of both.
With modern technology and improved production processes, even polyester-based materials can be both comfortable and beneficial for the youngsters in our lives as long as they are used in the right situations.
Minky and fleece, for instance, are both made from polyester. Yet they are as popular as wool when it comes to soft and warm fabrics for children. Even more so in some cases as wool is known to be scratchy. Especially if it has been washed a few times.
There are still some areas where natural fibers are better for children and babies. If your child has sensitive skin, the breathability and moisture-absorbing properties of natural fibers are hard to beat.
When it comes to kids clothes wear, the fabric used has to be tough. Babies, in particular, can go through four outfits per day. Whether it’s through leaks, spills, or little accidents, no sooner have you changed one garment, the next one is ready to go in the washer.
Not only that, but once babies realize they can crawl, shuffle and roll, any fabric between their tiny bodies and the floor will take a beating.
Even clothing for older kids gets put under a lot of strain. Jumping, running, falling over, the life of kid’s clothing is no picnic. Children play hard; their clothing needs to keep up!
Whatever material baby and children’s clothing is made from must be able to withstand regular washing and the tough rigors of rough-and-tumble play.
While durability is an absolute must, another important factor is comfort. Babies and children are like little dynamos when it comes to expanding energy. With never-ending power reserves, they are on the go constantly.
Children are expert wigglers. Any rigid material is going to rub on their skin, causing them pain. Fabric for children’s wear needs to allow for free movement.
The best material for babies and children is smooth, soft, and flexible. It needs to keep its softness no matter what the child or the cleaning process puts it through.
Young skin tends to be delicate. Easily aggravated by harsh chemicals, children and babies need their clothing to be hypoallergenic—especially newborn babies.
Babies are incredibly susceptible to infections and need comfortable, soft clothing that doesn’t rub and cause sores. The best fabrics for sensitive skin are made from organic or natural fibers.
As both babies and children can suffer from skin conditions like eczema, natural fabrics can reduce the possibility of irritation. Cotton is one of the top materials for children as it’s breathable, absorbs moisture, and helps prevent clothing-related discomfort.
One thing babies are unable to do is to regulate their own temperature. Overheating is thought to be one of the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death.
This is why temperature control is one of the most important properties for kids’ clothes. As they can’t do it themselves, their clothing and bedding have to do it for them. Even blankets used for swaddling need to have breathability.
Polyester-based fabrics, such as fleece, should be avoided for the very young. The synthetic fibers do not breathe. They trap hot air next to a baby’s skin and can cause the child to get too warm.
When it comes to babies and toddlers, the fabrics used for clothing and bedding should be made from natural fibers. The breathable qualities inherent within plant-based materials are essential to a baby’s well-being.
Natural fabrics like cotton allow airflow between clothing and skin and absorb moisture. Leaving the baby feeling cool and fresh.
Babies and children don’t like being wet. Modern diapers are designed to make sure they stay dry by combining soft, moisture-absorbing qualities of cotton with an outside layer of waterproof synthetic. With moisture and other body fluids trapped in the cotton filling, clothing worn on top of the diaper remains dry.
This is where synthetic fibers come into their own. Their waterproof qualities can keep a baby comfortable. Getting wet can cause a dip in temperature, rubbing, and sores. As long as there is a breathable layer between the skin and the synthetic fabric, it’s an ideal combination for ensuring a baby’s skin stays dry.
Synthetics can be used as an outer layer in jackets. They are protecting babies and children from the harshest weather conditions.
Children and babies go through several clothing changes in a day. Whether it’s because of food spills, potty-training accidents, or general play, their clothes seem to live in the laundry basket.
One way to get around this is to have a child’s wardrobe the same size as your home. It may feel like that sometimes, but there is a more economical way to ensure your child has fresh clothing. Ensure the fabric is fast-drying. Or at the very least, able to be tumble-dried.
The quickest drying fabrics tend to be synthetic-based. However, man-made materials like polyester aren’t always a good choice for baby clothes.
Cotton and bamboo are ideal. Both are made from natural fibers and can be put in a dryer. Of the two, bamboo is the quickest to dry.
Ease Of Care
Fabrics used for kids’ wear needs to be easy to care for. Even clothing for a newborn can be changed three or four times a day. With that much washing, the fibers need to be resilient and robust enough to survive multiple dunks in a washing machine.
The last thing you need for children’s wear is any fabric or garment that has to be dry-cleaned. Silks or fabrics requiring a delicate hand are not recommended. They simply can’t withstand the constant play, wiggling, crawling, and washing the clothing needs to go through.
Again, the best fabrics for children and babies are durable, easy to clean, and quick to dry. Clothing needs to be in the washing machine, dried, and back on the child in next to no time. Natural fibers have the durability to withstand frequent trips to the laundry room and still bounce back for more.
Can You Use Organic Fabric for Baby Clothes?
Natural fibers are the best choice for baby clothes. Not only do they breathe and absorb moisture, but they are also soft and hard-wearing. Making them strong enough to withstand the rigors all children’s clothing goes through.
When natural fabrics are made from organic fibers, this ensures the material is the best quality possible. Being organic means there are fewer harmful chemicals present in either the fabric or the plant matter used to produce it—good news for a baby’s delicate skin.
Organic fabric is the perfect fabric for baby clothes as it contains all the necessary elements their clothing needs. Two materials to consider when looking for organic clothing are cotton and hemp.
Best Fabric for Baby and Children’s Clothes
We’ve looked at synthetic and natural fibers to find out which is better for children and babies. Now let’s take a closer look at the fabrics to see which ones make the best baby and children’s wear.
CottonFrom lightweight gingham to hard-wearing denim, cotton is a material suitable for all seasons. Natural and versatile, this fabric can keep babies and children dry and comfortable. Its hypoallergenic properties can also soothe and protect the most sensitive of skin.
Famous for moisture absorption and breathability, cotton is a hard fabric to beat when it comes to clothing for a child. It has been used for generations and has become the most popular choice for kid-proof garments. Soft yet long-lasting, a 100% cotton material can keep up with even the most active child.
BambooWith similar properties to cotton fabric, bamboo is hypoallergenic and mold resistant. Soft, comfortable, and strong, bamboo also has thermal regulation properties. While it sounds like a good fabric for baby clothes, there is a downside.
The production process follows the same pattern as rayon. Bamboo fabric is made from the wood pulp of the plant to form a viscose solution. It takes chemicals to turn the wood pulp into a substance soft enough to make fabric. Those chemicals could irritate delicate young skin, so it’s best avoided if your little one is sensitive or suffers from eczema.
Although not thought of as a kid-friendly fabric, hemp is both durable and sustainable. It has a reputation for being scratchy, when in fact, it’s soft. Like 100% cotton fabric, hemp will get softer with every wash.
Hemp is a natural fiber with moisture-wicking and breathable qualities. It is also great for regulating temperatures, which is an ideal property for baby clothes. Naturally resistant to pests, hemp is anti-bacterial, which is another plus for kid’s clothing.
Due to its low popularity, it may be difficult to find baby and children’s wear made from hemp. Especially for a budget-friendly price. However, you may find a cotton-hemp blend that will give you the best parts of both fabrics.
This is the stretchy fabric baby vests, baby-grows, or sleepsuits are made from. Usually cotton-based, the fabric can also be made from polycotton or polyester. Pay attention to the fiber content to make sure you get the right one for your environment. A poly jersey is no good in hot climates.
Ideal for wiggle-room, this fabric not only allows the baby or child to move freely, but it can also expand to give even more space. When it’s made from cotton, the material is great for temperature control and breathability.
This fabric has several qualities perfect for taking care of delicate young skin. From the sun protecting properties of flax-based linen to the lightweight breathability of handkerchief linen. All versions are beneficial to both babies and children.
However, it is a fabric known to crease easily. Combining linen with the energetic movement of kids could be a recipe for disaster. Or at least a lengthy session at an ironing board.
Perfect fabric for layering, fleece is the go-to winter-warmer. Easier to care for than wool, fleece is a polyester-based material known for its softness and heat retaining properties. Resistant to stains, machine washable, and quick to dry, it ticks many boxes when it comes to kid’s wear.
However, the fabric is polyester. Ideal for outerwear in dry, cold climates, fleece isn’t any good next to the skin or as a swaddling blanket. It doesn’t breathe and could lead to babies overheating.
Not the first fabric that springs to mind when thinking about clothes for kids, cashmere is a good choice for blankets. It’s incredibly soft wool with hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial qualities.
While OK to use for bedding or throws, everyday wear for kids might be a bad idea. Cashmere is a delicate fabric that needs careful laundering.
Cashmere is one of the softest and finest wool available and can be an expensive choice. The pure luxury and comfort it can give to kids may be worth the extra cost.
What Is the Softest Kid-Friendly Fabric?
To a certain extent, the softest kid-friendly fabric depends on the child. As each one is different, the material they choose to be close to the most may not be the one parents consider the best.
There are several soft fabrics available. From the luxurious cashmere to the functional fleece, the materials covered in this article are all contenders for the title of softest kid-friendly fabric.
Although it is a personal preference, one of the most popular fabrics for softness is cotton. Used in baby clothes for generations, cotton fabric is the go-to material for comfort that’s both long-lasting and safe for delicate skin.
Which Is the Best Fabric for Babies Under 6 Months?
Babies under the age of 6 months need special care. Unable to regulate their temperatures and susceptible to infections, they need a fabric that protects them from the elements.
You need to make sure every garment you clothe them in keeps them cool or warm, depending on the temperature outside. Their clothing needs to be breathable, able to absorb moisture, and not rub their delicate skin.
Steer clear of synthetic fibers for this age group. The artificial nature of the fibers won’t allow your baby’s skin to breathe. They can also be cold and resistant to moisture, leaving your baby feeling wet and uncomfortable.
The best fabric for babies under the age of 6 months is one made from a natural fiber. Topping the list is cotton. A tried and tested material that has been used for hundreds of years.
Is Polyester Good/Safe for Babies?
Polyester is a synthetic material derived from petroleum. A non-breathable fabric resistant to water, it is used for outer garments and activity wear. Due to being waterproof, it is also used to make playmats and the outer linings of diapers.
Synthetic fabrics, in general, are not good for babies, particularly if they are newborns. Babies need a fabric that can regulate body temperature and keep them dry. Only natural fibers can do that. Poly and its synthetic cousins like nylon are best avoided.
Fleece fabric is one of the exceptions to the rule. Used for outer garments, fleece is an incredibly soft and warm alternative to wool. Easy to care for and super-comfortable, fleece can also be used in baby blankets.
A word of caution though, fleece is polyester, so it cannot help your baby with their body heat. You will need to regularly check they are not getting too warm in their fleece hoodie or under their fleece blanket. Use it with caution, especially if your baby is very young.
What Are the Worst Fabrics for Baby and Children’s Wear?
Babies and children need fabrics that are durable, comfortable, and allow free movement. There are some materials unsuitable for use in kid’s clothing because they don’t possess those qualities.
The biggest problem with fake fur is its tendency to shed. Fibers can come loose and be inhaled or swallowed by the child. This can lead to choking or suffocation.
Even child’s toys can be a hazard if the fake fur is low quality. Always keep it well away from babies and children under 3 years of age.
This is a plastic fabric best suited for awnings, bags, upholstery, and fire protection clothing. It is not suitable for making clothes for babies or children.
Vinyl can cause rashes and allergic reactions due to the chemicals used in its production. Although the fabric can create decorative embellishments for baby clothes, you don’t want to make clothing out of it.
The reason silk is on the no-go list isn’t because it’s dangerous to babies or children. It’s because they are too rough for it. Silk is delicate and requires a tender touch. With kids being little dynamos of energy prone to falling over, spilling things, and generally creating a mess, silk won’t stand a chance.
This is a shame as it’s a soft, luxurious fabric any child would feel super comfortable in. Well, for the five minutes, it would stay intact anyway.
The best fabric for babies and children should be breathable and comfortable with plenty of wiggle room. Whatever material you go for, this article will help you make an informed choice—allowing you to pick the best one for you and your child.
Let me know in the comments if you liked the article. Has it helped you decide on the best fabric for your child?