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Wool in the history of baby clothing

 
Wool is a huge part of our New Zealand heritage. Sheep farming was once the back-bone of New Zealand’s economy and wool was well known to be the best fibre to keep our babies warm. Mothers all knew how to knit and wool was endorsed as a ‘must have’ for clothing.
Wool is a huge part of our New Zealand heritage. Sheep farming was once the back-bone of New Zealand’s economy and wool was well known to be the best fibre to keep our babies warm. Mothers all knew how to knit and wool was endorsed as a ‘must have’ for clothing.

Back in the day, every baby had singlets, vests, pants, bootees, socks, bonnets, over naps, shawls, blankets, frocks, matinee jackets all made from wool. Thanks to its durability, wool clothing was able to be passed down through the whole family

Here are some excerpts from New Zealand maternity hospitals' guideline books for new mothers so they knew what to take to hospital for the birth of their new baby. Wool and woollen products are a main feature over the years.
 

Lyttelton Maternity Hospital – 1940’s

  • 3 x gowns
  • 24 x napkins
  • 3 x barriers or petticoats (flannel)
  • 3 x singlets (silk and wool)
  • ½ yard of flannel
  • 1 x woollen shawl
  • 1 big bag of old rag or wool
  • 6 yards of gauze
 

Rangiora Maternity Hospital – 1960’s

This list itemises the clothing to take the baby home in. The hospital supplied the clothing while the baby stayed there.
  • 1 x gown or petticoat
  • 1 x airtex singlet
  • 1 x silk and wool singlet
  • 3 x napkins
  • 1 dozen safety pins.
  • 1 x 3 inch crepe bandage
  • 1 x Gelvin baby soap
  • 1 x woollen shawl or wrap
 

Christchurch Women’s Maternity Hospital – 1970’s

This list had strict instructions to “Leave packed in a plastic bag in a draw at home”. Supposedly so the husband knew exactly where these items were when it was time to go to the hospital to collect and bring his wife and baby home.
  • 1 x night gown
  • 4 x napkins
  • 1 x woollen vest
  • 1 x bonnet
  • 1 x woollen shawl or blanket
  • 1 x dozen safety pins.
 
Of course things have changed for today’s mums and babies, but the benefits of children wearing wool has never changed over all these years.

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Source: This article was written by Cosy Toes who offer a wide range of merino clothing and products for babies and children.
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