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S/O Knitting Soakers + Longies, etc.

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Could someone help me understand the difference between and/or purpose of "soakers" and "longies" etc. for babies?


My only is 13, and Ravelry wasn't around when she was a baby, so I never knew they existed. Or did they, then? I have a few friends whose babies I've seen wearing them and to be honest, they look awfully uncomfortable. It's hard to wear wool next to the skin, so I can't imagine them being very soft and comfortable for a baby. And how do you wash them? I was in a grocery checkout line once behind a woman whose baby was wearing them and stunk to high heaven of urine. I think they actually were "soaked." ;)


So give me the scoop on these woolly baby-togs!



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I used them for my ds who has several allergies. He did well with them, they did not stink :) .if they are well lanolized they and dried between use they should not stink. I used mostly merino wool or felted merino or cashmere sweaters. I loved it and up till this year he had a pair because he wanted one and he has been out of diapers for almost three years. I plan to make a pair for him. It is great for outdoors.

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Before plastic pants, babies wore wool soakers. Wool is highly absorbant and naturally antibacterial. Wool acts as a water resistent barrier over the diaper, but allows good airflow ( unlike plastic covers or disposable diapers).


A soaker is panty-shaped. It may have cuffs at the legs. Soakers are often worn under long pants, or as pants in warm weather. "Soaker" is sometimes used to refer to an absorbant additional pad inside the diaper, but a better term for that is a doubler or stuffer.


Longies are long pants worn directly over the diaper, like a soaker, eliminating hte need for extra layers.


Shorties are like longies, but shorter. They have a more clothing-like look than a soaker.


The wool used for longies is very soft.You could make a soaker out of coarse wool, but it wouldn't be very nice. Longies and soakers are very expensive because they are made of very high quality fibers. Not all wool works well for soakers. Cloth diapers offer a lot of coverage. The vast majority of the wool is not in direct contact with the skin.


Because wool is naturally antimicrobial and somewhat magical, it only needs to be washed occasionally. The rest of the time it only has to be airdried. They should be handwashed to avoid felting, and lanolized during washing. Adding lanolin to the wool softens it and makes it more water proof. I have never smelled pee-smelling wool.


Longies and soakers can also be made of Acrylic yarn. The vast majority of yarn sold in Walmart and craft stores is acrylic. Acrylic is essentially plastic. IMO acrylic does not hold moisture as well as wool, but it is adequate. Acrylic must be washed, normally, with the other clothes, after each wear, or it does get stinky.


I would guess that the baby you smelled was wearing acrylic, and/or his diaper was not entirely clean. If diapers are not rinsed sufficiently, or if laundry detergent builds up in them, or if fabric softeners are used in the washer or dryer-even if they are not used directly on the diapers- the diapers may come out smelling clean, but stink once baby pees in them.


Many people express concern that wool and acrylic are not waterproof and imagine puddles everywhere baby sits. If the diaper is adequately absorbant (not too thin or too small, like the sad imitation diapers Gerber is now selling in the stores), the diaper itself will hold the wetness. If you can feel dampness on the outside of the diaper, it should have been changed quite some time ago.

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