Learn to Crochet Wool Diaper Covers

No need to buy hot, rash-producing plastic diaper covers when you can crochet your own out of wool.

| September/October 1976

When we moved to our West Virginia homestead, we were committing ourselves to live lives that were as environmentally oriented as we could make them ... without becoming fanatics on the subject.

It seemed only right, then, for our firstborn—a beautiful baby girl—to be delivered naturally, for her first food to be mother's milk, for her to wear plain cotton diapers, and for her clothes to be made with simple patterns and from natural fibers.

Everything about our baby, in short, seemed part of a larger harmony ... except for the plastic pants that I put on over her diapers. The pants weren't that big a problem, to be sure ... but they did clash enough with the rest of the baby's clothes to push me into doing a little research. "After all," I reasoned, "rubber and plastic haven't been around as long as babies have. Other mothers at other times have faced the problem that now confronts me. And they must have found a way of solving it."

Well, as most people know, East Coast Indians (who most certainly didn't put plastic pants on their papooses) diapered babies with the inner bark of oak trees. And the Eskimos and Indians in Alaska and northern Canada used sphagnum moss.

Although I did try the moss, I felt that it would have been a trifle extravagant to cut down whole trees for just their inner bark. So I eventually decided to replace my daughter's plastic diaper covers with the wool "soakers" in which whole generations of healthy farm children have been raised. These are nothing but short, plain pants knitted or crocheted of handspun, unprocessed-to leave the natural lanolin in-wool. The lanolin (an oil found in sheep's fleece), of course makes the finished pants water repellent, not waterproof.

Now I realize that not everyone has access to homespun wool the way I do. No problem. You can make your soakers from regular store-bought woolen yam Oust crochet them up about three times too big and then shrink them-a process known as "felting"-down to size). But do use wool. It will absorb and hold a certain amount of moisture, whereas acrylic and other manmade fibers will not. (If your baby is allergic to wool, you can substitute Angora goat hair or rabbit fur.)

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