Children’s bodies grow rapidly inside and out, especially in the first six or seven years of their lives. Their physical body is formed by their parents then over time they begin to create their own body out of a substance called warmth. All through our lives, warmth weaves unseen within us maintaining our bodies’ health. Warmth really is the foundation for health and physical well being. A babies’ thermostat is new and not yet able to maintain a stable core temperature, so when babies get too hot or too cold it is much harder for them to cool down or warm-up. Maintaining core body temperatures is where Warmth and Weather can be of support. There are three main fibres used to make clothing; plant, mineral and animal fibres.
Plant fibres such as cotton, linen, rayon all create a layer of protection from the elements. They are very absorbent and will hold a great deal of moisture for a long time, in fact, depending on the weather it can be difficult to get it to dry. This is what makes these fibres excellent for making diapers, dishcloths and mops. They can also do a nice job of protecting us from scrapes, injuries and insect bites because of their strength. These fibres are cool, in temperature, by their nature and do not promote warmth, which makes it an unfavourable choice as a base layer.
Mineral-based fibres such as polyester, nylon, vinyl are created from the earth. They are strong, protective and take a long time to break down and go back to the earth and thus create a heavier impact on the environment. They do make great shoes, rainwear and snow gear which protects us from the elements. These fibres are invaluable to those wanting to get outside. As a base layer, they are not breathable, trapping excess heat and interfering with a comfortable sense of being in one’s own body.
Animal fibres such as silk, wool, alpaca and mohair are fibres, that in their composition, are closest to the composition of skin and carry great wisdom. They are the most effective fibre for providing gentle warmth. Wool and silk keep us warm and yet can be cool in the summer because of its natural breathability. Being breathable, it provides gentle warmth indoors without heat build-up and cozy warmth for outside fun. These fibres move or wick away moisture from the skin to the outside of the clothing, helping to prevent clamminess, which leads to being wet and cold. You can tell when your core temperature is enough when your hands and feet are as warm as your heart. Wool and silk also have the ability to clean and deodorize themselves if aired. Early generations of wool were scratchy or picky. Today’s merino wool is quite soft and comfortable. Our manufacturers use the longest fibres for making clothing as it makes it softer to the touch. For those with sensitive skin, eczema and other skin allergies organic wool/silk clothing is recommended. Silk soothes the skin like no other fabric. It is soft and gentle and as it’s an animal fibre, it provides vital warmth. Find out more here.
Now let's go back to the children that are building their bodies with warmth. How can we dress them to ensure that they are warm without being overheated? Dressing in layers makes great sense, especially when the children are both outdoors and indoors throughout the day. Let’s look at foundational base layers.
Sleeveless Undershirt - This is the first layer around the core of the body. Children thrive with a gentle base layer of wool or wool-silk all year round. In the summer it wicks away moisture to maintain healthy body temperature. The shirt should fit the child well and not be too bulky. A sleeveless undershirt is perfect for layering as there are no sleeves to “feel funny” underneath the next layers.
Leggings or Long Johns - Once the temperatures outside dips below 10⁰C or 15⁰C, it is cold enough to put on the next part of the base layer. Long johns underneath pants provide the extra warmth needed for children who spend many hours everyday either on the floor or on the ground outside. This is the coldest space to be. Warm air rises and the earth holds the cold and is usually damp. Long underwear can be a little longer in length, to allow for growth, but not too loose as it needs to be comfortable with a layer on top of them.
Long Sleeve Undershirt - This layer again supports the core body as well as the arms. Children that tend towards being hot could use a short sleeve shirt in lieu of the long sleeve as a base layer. Remember, if the hands and feet are the same temperatures as the torso, then the child is warm enough.
Turtle Neck - Turtlenecks are part of a basic wardrobe. When the weather gets colder a turtle neck is wonderful for keeping necks warm and dry. It’s layered over the tank in early winter or over both the tank and long sleeve in the coldest months of the year.
Light Sweater - A button up or pullover sweater provides the needed warmth when the day starts cooler and warms up later on. A layer that can be taken off when going inside is helpful and provides options when the temperature changes and child’s hands and feet are warm enough. As a child’s inner thermostat is developing they do not have a sense for being warm enough until after about nine years of age, depending on the child. A little help from adults is required to ensure they are maintaining a healthy core temperature.