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The Sleep Store Guide to Winter Woollies

The Sleep Store Guide to Winter Woollies

What makes wool so wonderful?'

We love wool at The Sleep Store and we believe using breathable, naturally temperature regulating clothing and bedding with your baby is best. Recent research also suggests that babies sleep better in wool.

Wool fibres form natural air pockets that act as insulators keeping babies warm without sacrificing breathability. This means your baby will always be at the right temperature – never too cold, never too hot. It can also absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water without feeling damp, so baby remains warm despite nappy leaks or spills. Wool is also resistant to mould, mildew and bacteria; which helps create a healthy sleeping environment.

Wool is natural, renewable and uses less energy than man-made fibres to produce. Wool garments will last and look good for longer – their fibres are very durable and elastic and can be bent tens of thousands of times without breaking with the power to return to their natural shape.

Modern wool can also be machine-washed and because the fibres retain a small amount of natural oil, wool fibre resists dirt and grease. Wool does not promote the growth of bacteria which also helps to stop odours developing. With microscopic scales, wool fibres can trap dust in the top layers until vacuumed away. Wool offers high UV protection and is flame retardant with a higher ignition threshold than many other fibres.

If you are looking for pieces to last more than one child then wool is an excellent choice. When your wool item comes to the end of its life it's naturally biodegradable and takes only a few years to decompose.

On this page you'll find links to all our information about wool, including clothing temperature guides, sizing info, winter swaddling & bedding suggestions, FAQ's, common senario questions from customers and washing guides for removing stains (handy when explosive nappies happen). You'll also find links to our most popular wool ranges from Woolbabe to Icebreaker, Mokopuna, Babu and of course our own designs by The Sleep Store.

Did you know?

The ideal temperature for a child’s room is between 16-20 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 16 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 Lamingtons socks has meant their baby sleeps through again.

But what about overheating?

Babies, particularly newborns, have limited ability to regulate their temperature. Overheating can be dangerous and is a SIDS risk. To prevent babies from overheating in winter:

  • Keep the room temperature around 18 degrees, check heaters regularly and use a thermostat

  • Avoid synthetic fabrics that don’t breathe, e.g. polar fleece and mink-style blankets or sleepwear

  • Use natural fabrics that breathe like wool, cotton and bamboo

  • Check baby’s temperature by feeling the skin on her chest or back. Baby should feel warm but not hot, or clammy. If baby is sweaty or red in the face she is too hot

  • Never put baby to bed with a hat or headband. Babies release excess heat through their heads and can quickly overheat in a hat

What’s so great about wool?

Research has shown that babies sleep better in wool. Wool fibres form natural air pockets that act as insulators keeping babies warm without sacrificing breathability. This means your baby will always be at the right temperature – never too cold, never too hot. It can also absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water without feeling damp, so baby remains warm despite nappy leaks or spills. Wool is also resistant to mould, mildew and bacteria; which helps create a healthy sleeping environment.

Why is merino wool so popular?

Merino has the same qualities as wool - but supercharged! Merino fibre is much finer than ordinary wool. It is silky soft, so it doesn’t itch; it’s lightweight, resists odour and is snuggly warm but never too hot. It really is the ultimate fibre for being next to your child’s skin (Mums and Dads like it too!).

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.

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 look after it?

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 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 Mokopuna can even go in the dryer on low.

What about kids with eczema or sensitive skin?

Most wee ones with mild to moderate eczema can wear superfine merino comfortably. Choose Icebreaker or Mokopuna. 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.

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 wool.

Common scenario based questions from customers

Would you use a deluxe swaddle blanket year round or will it be too hot in summer?

Yes, I would. It’s 100% merino so lovely breathable fabric. I’d just dress bubs accordingly underneath depending on the temp – less in warmer months, more layers in winter.

Also, it’s great to use as a blanket in the pram, cosy cuddles on the couch etc too!

I got the fleece onesie. What temperature would you wear with a woolbabe 3 Seasons sleeping bag? Vs just a merino zipsuit?

I’d say use the fleece onesie with the 3 seasons around 18-20 degrees or cooler. The zipsuit you could use more around 20-22 degrees. IN saying this you could use the zipsuit in cooler temps too, just pop a bodysuit under etc

Are several merino layers good for winter or same effect with just the layer against the skin?

We love merino layers in winter to keep bubs cosy. But if just one layer of merino, definitely the layer closest to the skin!

Will it be okay my merino accidentally makes it into a normal wash (vs. a gentle wool wash)?

We’d always recommend a gentle wash, and using a liquid wool wash.

What would you say is the best essential merino item for a new mum to get for winter….bubs is 9 weeks?

Oh, that is tricky! If you were just getting one item I’d personally go with a long sleeve merino bodysuit. You can layer on top of it, wear under a swaddle and having that merino layer next to the skin will keep bubs cosy. Other fab newborn items are the merino fitted zip swaddle or merino swaddle blanket and the newborn gowns.

Would you put the merino fleece onesie under a duvet woolbabe in winter, or too hot?

The merino fleece onesies are warm (equivalent to about 2-3 layers normal nightwear). So you could put under the duvet weight Woolbabe in cold temperatures, but you wouldn’t need much else!

Miss 4 is a VERY hot sleeper and sweats. What do you suggest for winter? We have Sleep Store PJ’s.

Merino is great as it absorbs 30% of its weight in moisture! For a 4 year old I’d suggest light layers, something like a zipsuit or merino pyjamas and make sure bedding is natural fibers – wool duvet inner.

The other great option for a 4 hear old who runs warm would be a 3-Seasons Woolbabe Sleeping suit. Perfect for warm sleepers and no blankets needed. Can wear as is, or with light layer underneath.

Do you have a chart on layers for different temperatures and fabrics? I don’t want to cook my boys.

We don’t have anything at the moment specifically for our Sleep Store merino, we’re looking at creating something, but as long as you’re using merino and natural fibres and checking your little ones often, you’ll be fine. You’ve got this!

What temps would you use a fleece onesie or zipsuit with a 2 layer merino sleeping bag?

A merino fleece onesie is equivalent to approx. 2-3 layers of normal nightwear, so under a double layer merino sleeping bag I’d use a fleece onesie if cold temps. A merino zipsuit would be suitable for mild temperatures under a double layer sleeping bag, and just add layers under if it gets cooler (long sleeve bodysuit etc), or just by itself if warmer.

Is the merino fleece warmer than the standard merino suits? Are they suitable for all seasons?

Yes, the merino fleece onesies are definitely warmer! It is definitely designed for use over cooler months and temps. You’ll still get use over warmer months – for cooler evenings, cold snaps, camping etc! But you’ll find for sleeping you wouldn’t want/need layers on top of this in the warmer weather!

Do The Sleep Store merino Pyjamas have more stretch in the neck than the new Woolbabe Pyjamas?

Yes, The Sleep Store merino pyjamas have more stretch around the neck than the Woolbabe pyjamas.

What do you recommend for winter essentials from the merino range?

Depends on bubs age, but for 6-12 months I’d definitely recommend a long sleeve bodysuits, a zipsuit and sleeping bag or sleeping suit (The Sleep Store or Woolbabe brand).

Will you be stocking long sleeve merino for toddlers?

We have the long sleeve Pyjamas and long sleeve bodysuits. We don’t have just the long sleeve tops in our own brand, but do stock other brands that have these such as Babu.

Would a singlet, grow suit and duvet sleeping bag combo be sufficient for 7+ month old this winter?

Yes, duvet weight Woolbabe is a great sleeping bag for winter. The exact amount of layers you pop underneath depends on the room temp, but sounds cosy!

Merino PJs (2 piece), or zip suit for a 1 year old? What’s easier?

Personally, for this age I’d go the Zipsuit. I’ve still got my 1.5 year old in a zipsuit under her sleeping bag and it’s super cosy and easy!

Whats the youngest you can put a sleeping bag or sleep sack?

You can put in a sleeping bag from newborn if you are not swaddling. Woolbabe does a mini Woolbabe for 0-9 months and we (The Sleep Store Brand) has the double layer merino sleeping bag for 0-6 months.

For a winter newborn would you put a merino swaddle on top of a merino onesie or too much?

Yes, absolutely. The layers under the swaddle would always depend on the room temperature, and always check bubs, but for winter this would be cosy.

I’ve always put my little on ein a cotton singlet then his merino. Should I just be using merino?

We always say where possible merino next to the skin as the first/base layer is best to get the best merno benefits. Cotton is a lovely natural fibre too – so there is no harm in that if you prefer!

Have a new bub arriving in the thick of winter. What should I get?

Congratulations! Personally in regards to merino I’d go with merino long sleeve bodysuits, merino baby gown or zipsuits, Swaddle or sleeping bag for your outer layer depending if you’re planning to swaddle or not.

Best in Wool at The Sleep Store

Our hand-picked ranges feature hundreds of wool styles, particularly those made from Merino wool, which has all the beneficial properties of wool - but supercharged!

Woolbabe is the number one choice for parents looking for a high-quality sleeping bag made with Merino. We also offer other Merino options by Babu and Nature Baby plus our own 100% Merino sleeping bags. 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 here. Alongside our own 100% superfine merino fleece blankets you'll find much-loved styles from NZ Wool Blankets plus EcoSprout, Babu and Nature Baby.

Once your little one is ready to move up to a big bed you'll find that a wool underlay and (when they are old enough) a duvet inner 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 and MoeMoe. Read our 'How much bedding does baby need' guide and watch our Facebook live video about bassinet and cot bedding (see link above).

Getting the little things right can make a huge difference to the quality of a sleep. Merino clothing basics such as bodysuits, vests, onesies, pyjamas and socks are all essential items for any little one's wardrobe. We recently introduced our own range of superfine 100% merino basics that are incredible value in addition to styles by Mokopuna, Babu and Nature Baby plus clothing for big kids & adults from Icebreaker. 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.