from A Guide to Child Health by Michaela Glöckler and Wolfgang Goebel

Copyright © Floris Books, Edinburgh, 1990

Floris Books, 15 Harrison Gardens, Edinburgh, EH11 1SH, Great Britain

Anthroposophic Press, RR4, Box 94A1 Hudson, NY 12534 USA



         Unbleached sheep's wool can absorb up to thirty percent of its own weight in humidity without feeling damp. Because of its good insulating properties, humidity can evaporate through the wool without any chilling effect on the skin. No other textile has this property. Perspiration is also absorbed and the excess body heat is not prevented from escaping, as is the case with synthetic textures. That is why the Bedouin in the desert wear woollen or sheepskin clothing.

         Some mothers do not like wool because they feel that it irritates their own skin, but such soft quality vests (undergarments/onesies) are available for babies that they can be worn even by babies with the most sensitive skin. The garments must however be washes in a very mild soap solution so that they retain their softness. The objection that wool cannot be boiled is hardly valid, for unbleached wool only needs to be washed in a warm solution of 30°C (86°F) to become clean and not smell. Furthermore wool lasts; a thick knitted woollen pair of nappy-trousers will still do for a second child if it has always been washed in the right way. It is important that the wool is 100% pure fleece wool, unbleached. Ready-made articles of clothing are of course expensive. But because fewer are required and need to be changed less often that balances out, while the advantage of health cannot be measured in money terms. If you are able to knit, then of course there is less of a cost problem.

         For very sensitive skins, vests (undergarments/onesies) and bonnets of pure silk may be the solution. This textile has almost the same warmth- regulating properties of wool and is very pleasant to wear.

         Cotton underwear is only suitable in very warm weather when there is not much variation of temperature. Synthetic materials are unsuitable in any case as they retain humidity and keep in the body heat.

         Far too often we have to examine children in our consulting-room who are not warmly enough dressed. But we occasionally come across the opposite extreme: an overheated child under endless layers of wool, with a thick cap pulled right down to the eyes, not even allowing the forehead to cool off. The ideal is therefore to find the right mean between the two extremes of overheating and under heating. Too much warmth cossets the organism and hinders the development of the body's regulating mechanisms. Too little warmth or even deliberate exposure to cold gives rise to reflexes and regulation adjustments in the body, which go beyond normal conditions and provoke extreme reactions. In both cases, the development in the child of flexible and sensitive reactions to warmth and cold will be impaired.