By Hannah Schenker
I have memories from childhood of being bundled up into thick, scratchy jumpers hand-knitted by my grandma or my mother, before heading off to school or outside to play in winter. But even though the jumpers were incredibly amazing and I wore them with pride, the itchy scratchy feeling most definitely was not pleasant when worn against the skin. But keeping warm doesn’t have to mean bulky, scratchy jumpers thanks to something we are abundant in, here in New Zealand: quality merino wool. Here are some reasons why choosing merino is great when it comes to your kids. Well, let’s be honest – when it comes to you too!
What is merino wool?
Merino wool comes from the fleece of Merino sheep, a breed of sheep famous for its soft, fine wool. They were first bought to New Zealand from Australia in the 1800s. It is a 100% natural fibre grown in an alpine environment in the South Island of New Zealand.
These merino sheep graze free range on grass 12 months of the year and once a year, in spring, they come down from the mountains to be shorn. Then they head back up into the mountains to grow some more wool.
The sheep have to endure a range of extreme climates from snow and freezing conditions in the winter to hot dry summers and their wool has evolved over centuries to enable them to handle those extremes, their coat always adapting to these changing conditions. Keeping them warm in the winter and allowing them to breathe and keep cool in the summer.
Why is it great for kids?
Breathable and heat-regulating
Merino is uniquely able to regulate body temperature – absorbing and releasing moisture. It can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture before it begins to feel wet, while still insulating your child. It’s also naturally moisture-wicking – drawing the moisture away from the skin and keeping your child comfortable. Similar to when the fibre is on the sheep’s back, these properties allow merino to cool your child when hot and warm them when cold, creating a perfect microclimate around their body. Merino protects your child from extremes as it actively controls body temperature, unlike synthetic fibres. For babies, this is fantastic as they cannot tell you they are too hot, or too cold – the merino will take care of that. It is best worn against the skin, with other layers over the top as needed, so that it can do its work properly.
Incredibly, merino wool is “self-extinguishing“, meaning it puts itself out if the flame source is removed. It also will not melt or stick and is naturally flame resistant. How awesome is that!
Yes, merino is great for protecting your little one’s skin from harmful UV rays as they enjoy the outdoors. It works for the sheep!
Merino wool is hypo-allergenic – due to it being static-resistant. This means it attracts fewer dust particles, making it so comfortable to wear against the skin and non-itchy, for those with sensitive skin and allergies.