Sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest mess. Take babies. They might be as cute as a button and almost as tiny, but there’s no getting away from the fact they make a whole heap of mess.
Dealing with food spills, spit-up, drool, and various other unmentionables is just part and parcel of being a parent. And that’s where bibs come into play.
As anyone with a kid knows, bibs are an indispensable part of life, mopping up any little spillages and keeping your baby looking just the right side of respectable.
Bibs can be made from any number of fabrics, but there are certain qualities that all good bib fabrics have in common: they’re soft, they’re absorbent, and they’re easy to clean. Some of the most popular fabrics for bibs include:
Whether you opt for a knit or a woven style, terrycloth makes a great (and very popular) choice of bib fabric. Woven terrycloth is excellent at wicking away moisture and keeping any milk or food spills from soaking through to your baby’s outfit. Knit terrycloth has the same excellent qualities, but is slightly softer than the woven kind, making it a good choice for babies with particularly sensitive skin.
Get a bib made from a flannel that’s 100% cotton and you can expect an exceptionally soft, absorbent bib that will stop any food spills soaking through to the outfit underneath. Just remember the golden rule: the tighter the weave, the better the bib.
Anyone looking for a waterproof bib would do well to consider one made from PUL, a synthetic material that’s soft, excellent at keeping clothing dry, and exceptionally easy to clean.
Thanks to its hypoallergenic qualities, bamboo makes an excellent choice for babies with sensitive skin. As an added advantage, it’s also one of the most environmentally friendly bib fabrics around… albeit one that can be a little tricky to find.
We all know cotton – it’s soft, it’s absorbent, and it’s easy-to-clean. What more could you want from a bib fabric?
When it comes to deciding which fabric is best for bibs and burb cloths, there’s really no right or wrong answer. All parents have their preferences, with some placing the greatest priority on hypoallergenic fabrics, and others caring more about how easy-to-wash the bib is than anything else.
For many people, cotton ticks all the boxes, being absorbent, soft and comfortable against the skin, and easy-to-wash. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the right choice for you.
If your baby has a cotton sensitivity, bamboo might be preferable. if they tend to spill more milk than they keep in, a waterproof option like PUL might work best.
Providing the fabric you choose is soft, keeps clothing dry and clean, and can be easily cleaned on high temperatures, it’s hard to go wrong.
If you thought the list of options for a bib’s outer material was long, wait till you see how many there are for the bib’s backing. Some people will prefer a fabric that offers the same level of absorbency as the outer layer. Others prefer a fabric that will act as a barrier to stop any food spills soaking through to clothing.
Depending on your individual preference, you might want to consider some of these fine options:
If you want a bib with a luxurious touch, plush fabric (formerly known as Minky fabric) is an excellent choice. Gorgeously strokable and fluffy, it’ll feel incredibly soft against your baby’s skin. It is a tad expensive and can be a pain to work with if you’re not already an experienced sewer, but it’s superb barrier qualities and luxurious feel still makes it a popular choice.
PUL (a polyester/polyurethane laminated knit fabric) is an excellent option for anyone looking for a barrier to wetness, being fully waterproof and yet surprisingly breathable. Style-conscious babies will also be pleased to know it comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
Sharing many of the same qualities as Plush fabric (albeit with a slightly less luxurious touch and a more limited range of color options), Cuddlesoft makes a good choice for those looking for a soft barrier fabric with an attractive price point.
Thin, soft, and readily (and cheaply) available, microfleece makes a popular choice for parents looking for a bib that will stop any wetness soaking through to clothing. As an added advantage, it’s available in a wide selection of colors, making it easy to find one to match the top fabric.
Given how many bibs a baby gets through on a daily basis, finding a fabric that’s as economical as it is efficient is a big consideration. Polar fleece is one of the cheapest options around, serving as a good barrier fabric and coming in a wide variety of colors. It’s not, however, the softest of materials, and might get a little too warm for comfort in the summer months.
If you want a material that’s better at absorbing than it is at acting as a barrier, flannel makes a superior choice. Soft and breathable, it makes a great option during the warmer months. It’s also relatively inexpensive, available in a vast range of colors, and readily available.
Like flannel, bamboo velour is a better absorber than it is a barrier, so you may have to change it more frequently if your baby is wearing a bib for any extended length of time. With great breathability and a lightweight quality, it’s an excellent choice in warmer weather.
If you’re willing to sacrifice barrier qualities for great absorbency, bamboo toweling is a fantastic choice. With terry loops on both the front and back of the fabric, it’s super for babies that drool a lot, soaking up even more than bamboo velour thanks to its thickness and increased surface area.
Absorbent and breathable, bamboo interlock is an all-natural fabric this will help keep your baby’s neck cool even in the hottest weather.
The best fabric for bib backing? It really depends on what you want. Some people like to have the backing and front layers match. Some people are happy to go for another type of fabric if it means they can add a barrier to stop any drool or food soaking through to the clothing. Those with particularly drool-some babies may prefer a more absorbent option. Some people prefer the durability and easy-to-care for qualities of synthetics, others wouldn’t dream of putting anything other than 100% natural fibers next to the little one’s skin.
With so many different requirements, calling one fabric out for praise above all others is impossible: consider what you want, then match the fabric to your needs. And if it’s the wrong choice… well, baby bibs weren’t designed to last a lifetime anyway.
If you want to keep your baby’s clothing protected from any little accidents, it’s worth considering a waterproof fabric. The options are numerous, but some of the most popular fabrics include:
PUL is completely waterproof and incredibly durable, but also breathable, soft and comfortable enough that it won’t irritate a baby’s sensitive skin even if it’s worn for an extended period of time.
Like PUL, TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) is fully waterproof. Although it’s slightly less durable than PUL, it wins when it comes to softness, flexibility, and environmental friendliness.
Coated Nylon/ Coated Polyester
Neither nylon nor polyester is naturally waterproof, but they’re both widely available in a coated variety that’s exactly that. On the downside, they’re not the most breathable of fabrics and may give your baby a sweaty neck if worn for long in the heat.
Laminated Cotton /Poplin
When you add a thin layer of waterproof coating to cotton or poplin, you get a natural fabric with good breathability that acts as an excellent barrier between spillages and your baby’s outfit.
Coated Polyester Fleece
Granted, polyester fleece isn't going to be great in summer, but it makes a good choice of waterproof fabric in the winter.
Apply a special coating to microfiber and you end up with a fully waterproof fabric that’s soft, durable and an incredibly popular option for bibs.
Absorbent fabric for bibs
For baby’s that dribble a lot, an absorbent bib fabric is key… as is one that’s soft enough to not irritate their sensitive skins. Of the options available, the following make for some of the most popular:
Flannel made from 100% cotton offers excellent absorbency, catching any little spillage in its nap and keeping the outfit beneath spick and span. Flannel is widely available but pay attention to quality as some options are less effective than others: as a general rule, the tighter the weave, the more efficient the bib.
If you want a fabric that’s as environmentally friendly as it is effective, bamboo should be at the top of your wish list. Thanks to its antibacterial properties and highly absorbent qualities, it’s great for little dribblers with sensitive skin.
Organic or 100% cotton is breathable, easy to clean, and soft against a baby’s delicate skin. It’s also got superb absorbency.
Terrycloth, terry cloth, terry cotton, terry toweling, terry, terry towel, or just simply toweling… whatever you call it, toweling fabric makes an excellent choice for bibs.
Thanks to its large surface area and nap, it captures any spillages and stops them from permeating through to the clothing below. Although some varieties are made with a blend of fibers, most toweling fabrics are 100% cotton, possessing all the same benefits of breathability, absorbency, and softness you’d expect of natural fiber.
As sure as night follows day, babies are going to drool. And when their teeth start coming through, that drool is going to increase ten-fold. While there’s not a lot you can do to stop it, there is something you can do to catch it – namely, wrap a good quality drool bib around their neck.
While their primary purpose is obviously of the functional sort, there’s enough variety of drool bib friendly fabrics on the market to mean they can be just as pleasing on the eye as they are efficient. Here are a few of the possibilities:
Cotton is one of the most popular choices, and for good reason. Easily accessible and available in a huge array of colors, patterns and designs, there’s a cotton fabric to suit every taste and budget. Thin and breathable, it offers excellent absorbency, gentle softness, and minimal care requirements.
Sometimes referred to as brushed cotton or winceyette, flannel is basically a fluffier, more tactile version of standard cotton fabric. Like cotton, it’s breathable and capable of absorbing huge amounts of moisture.
Cotton interlock is a knit fabric that’s a great choice for anyone looking for an easy-to-care-for fabric with superior absorbency qualities. Just be sure to look for one with a high cotton content.
Like cotton, bamboo has great absorbency, although unlike cotton, it can sometimes be a pain to find in fabric stores. If you want to give it a try, sourcing fabric online will be your best bet.
As you’d expect of anything designed for a baby, bibs don’t require a vast amount of fabric. Exactly how much you’ll need depends on whether you’ll be sticking to a single layer bib or will be doubling up on the bib’s absorbency or moisture wikiing potential by adding a backing layer.
As a general rule, baby bibs should measure around:
Providing you don’t deviate too much from the above, a quarter yard of fabric should be more than sufficient for a double-layer bib.