A simple recipe for making your own wool puddle pad, probably the best natural product to protect your cot mattress and other soft furnishings.
If you haven’t already heard about this wonderful and versatile product, you can read all about it here in my blog.
A puddle pad is a layer of specially prepared wool that can be used much like a mattress protector, under or over sheets, on a changing table or play space. Babies are notoriously messy, and a puddle pad protects whats underneath it from having to be constantly changed and cleaned. Read more here.
You will need:
- A pure wool blanket (or part of one big enough for the size you need)
- A good washing machine
- An iron
- A sewing machine, thread and fabric scissors
- Liquid lanolin, a bowl and spoon.
1.Source your blanket
You need knitted (not woven) wool in order to get the best result. Your blanket should be 100% pure wool and it’s worth checking the label to make sure. If its not pure wool, it won’t be sufficiently water resistant and it will start to smell bad pretty quickly. Talking of smells, you should give it a sniff too; wool has a distinct smell you will probably recognise (and if it smells of mothballs you will need to wash it and dry it 3 times to get it out but it’s important to do this).
You can check how likely the fabric is to work by pouring a small amount of water on to it and seeing what happens. If it beads off that’s a good indication that it will work. If it pours through thats a good sign that it is either too thin, not wool, or will need a hefty amount of lanolin to be a good pad.
2. Prepare the fabric
You will probably need to give it a good wash. Use a wool-friendly soap (avoid Woolite as this actually removes natural lanolin!). You should wash it in the washing machine if you can, at around 40 degrees. This will slightly felt the wool, making the knit a little tighter and increasing its density. This will help it hold liquid deposits better but bear in mind that it will also shrink it slightly. This is why I am advising that you wash it first, before you cut out what will be your puddle pad.
3. Iron and check for defects
Once you have washed and dried it, you should iron it.This will ensure that when you cut it it comes out the right shape. You can also use this opportunity to check the fabric for stains or tiny holes. You can of course repair holes by hand, or just avoid incorporating it into the puddle pad.
4. Determine the size you need and prepare to cut
You will need it to cover the part of the mattress or play area where your baby will be. For a bed, this does not need to be the entire sleeping surface, just the area likely to take a wetting. If you make it too large, it will be difficult to wash and dry. For a crib, I recommend something around 40x50cm and for a toddler bed around 50x70cm, but it’s up to you of course.
Make a template of the size you want out of paper/card/a newspaper and place it on the fabric. Draw round the edge and then cut it out using your fabric scissors. You will probably want to leave a little seam allowance, around 1-2cm around the edge, but there is no need to worry about being exact, as long as the lines are pretty straight.
For a younger child (under 12 months) a single-layer should suffice. For an older child, I recommend making it double-layer. To do this, cut out 2 pieces the same size.
5. Finish the edges.
You should sew round the edges as it will fray and get smaller in the wash, not to mention leaving fluffy deposits wherever you put it. You can either just sew a zig-sag stitch round the edge, or if your sewing skills allow, you can fold over the edge and then sew along it. Better still, if you have an overlocker you can finish the edge this way (as pictured below).
It’s worth using a ball-point needle for this project, because unlike a regular sewing needle, its rounded tip won’t cut the fabric as it sews it. Make sure your machine is set to sew heavy-weight fabric so you don’t strain the motor. If you don’t have a sewing machine you could sew the edge by hand using a blanket stitch.
If you are making a double-layer pad you can sew the two pieces together around the edge. To do this, pin them together first and then sew it, so the two pieces lie flat together. You won’t need to fold the edge over, just zig-zag or overlock round the edges instead.
6. Lanolise it
Liquid lanolin is made from the stuff that sheep create to keep their coats clean and fresh. When you lanolise your puddle pad, you will help it stay fresher for longer, as well as increase its water resistance.
You can buy liquid lanolin online. My favourite is sheepish grins because its a solid lanolin you make into a liquid (best value for money as not diluted already) but here I have used the disana liquid lanolin which is also pretty good. But you can use any lanolin you like, you may even have some lansiloh already, which will work well for this purpose.
To lanolise, simply dissolve around a tablespoon of the lanolin in a bowl of luke warm and immerse the puddle pad. Let it bathe for a few minutes and soak up the lanolin, then take it out, gently squeezing the excess water out. No need to soak it overnight, and no need to rinse, just let it dry.
If possible, you should lanolise your pad each time you wash it. Remember, you wont need to wash it after each wetting because of wools amazing antibacterial properties. (You can read more about this here). When you do wash it, wash it up to 30 degrees either by hand or in the washing machine.
Once dry, its ready to be used! You can place your baby on top of the pad or you can use it under a sheet as a mattress protector. Enjoy, and do come back and share your creations!