3 Important Factors for Buying Baby Socks
Picking out a good pair of baby socks can be the simplest difficult thing for parents. Simple, yes of course, there are thousands of options out there for you to choose from and it's "just a pair of socks"! Difficult? Absolutely, how do you select from all the options out there? Materials, styles, and constructions, what are the priorities? When you finally bought the perfect pair of socks, and a few days later, you came back from that walk at the park and realize one sock was missing on your baby’s feet; back to square one. So we are going to go over couple of important factors you must consider when buying baby socks (these factors can apply to adult socks as well).
When choosing socks, first thing to consider is fiber content. You will find that most socks are made of a blend of different fibers. There are no socks made of 100% cotton or any other fiber because you need spandex (elastic fiber) or Lycra added to allow socks to stretch and to fit properly. Understanding the pros and cons of each fiber type will help you make a more informed decision. Our feet contain lots of sweat glands, while it is very important for adult socks to not just absorb moisture but wicking it away, it’s not a priority for baby socks. What’s important for baby socks is the material’s ability to keep warmth since baby’s feet take a big part on regulating their body temperature.
The most common material you will find on the market. It is the most affordable fabric and has good warmth retention. It is a natural fiber that most parents prefer. Try to select higher yarn count (just like bed sheets which will be smoother). If possible, look for organic cotton as they are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticide which reduces damage to mother nature.
People usually connect wool to winter and cold weather, but Merino wool is a breathable fabric that can be worn year round. Made from the wool of merino sheep that live predominantly in New Zealand, this yarn is soft and cushiony. It has gain popularity among athletes and hikers and backpackers. It is more expensive than cotton, acrylic, or nylon, but a choice for toddler or older kids that are running around all day to use up their endless energy.
Commonly refer to as "soybean protein fiber". It is a sustainable textile fiber made from renewable natural resources - the leftover soybean pulp from tofu or soymilk production. Micro-pores in the cross-section and high amorphous regions improve the water absorption capacity and higher air permeability leads to an increase in water vapor transfer. Azlon from soy fiber also has warmth retention that’s comparable to wool and the fiber itself is smooth and silky. Combining these properties make wearer stays warm and dry.
Nylon is usually blended in with other fabrics (cotton, rayon from bamboo, or azlon from soy) often comprising 20% to 50% of the sock’s fabric content. Nylon adds durability and strength, and dries quickly.
Elastane, Spandex, or Lycra.
These are materials that add a bit of stretch and allow the socks to fit properly. Usually only a small percentage (2% to 5%) of the sock’s fabric content is made up of these materials. Although a small percentage, but this is an important factor that determines the fitting of socks and how long they will stay fit. Low quality elastics will become loose and causing the socks fall off easily.
2. Socks Construction
The 2 most important things to consider when checking baby socks constructions are toe seams and sock top closure type.
Socks are knitted as a tube during the first stage of production. Then they are taken to a process to be closed via a toe seam that runs across the top of the toes. The traditional machine linked toe seams are bulky and protruded beyond the cushioning of the sock and could be irritating and uncomfortable. Another method is hand linked flat seams, the seam is so small it sits behind the cushioning of the sock that they are virtually undetectable. But the hand linked seams are costly and production rate is about 10% of the machine linked, so they are mainly used for baby/infant socks and high end adult socks. When buying baby socks, it’s a good idea to turn the socks over to check the toe seams to make sure they are comfortable for your babies.
Socks top closure type
Other than the quality of the elastic fiber used that will determine if the baby socks will stay on, another factor would be the socks top closure type. Double rib stitching will provide more support because of the double thread structure making sure the closure don’t become loose and also due to the double structure, closure doesn’t need to be so tight that leaves a mark. The single stitching makes it harder to gauge the tightness of closure and often leaves a mark (when knitted too tight) or becomes loose faster (don’t want to leave a mark). The way to tell is that for double rib stitching, surface and inside of the closure will look the same.
3. Socks Styles
Although there might be more, but baby and toddler socks generally falls into these three categories.
These socks are an expression of their name, only reaches to the ankles. Since they cover the least ground, so they are probably the easiest becoming loose and fall off.
Crew socks are cut between ankle and knee high socks in terms of length, typically ending under the calf muscle. Crew socks are the most common socks length for baby and toddlers.
Knee High Socks
Knee high, or over the calf socks run the length of baby’s legs to just below the kneecaps. They’re ideal for keeping your baby’s leg warm, pairing well with boots and dress shoes. For toddler girls, knee high socks can also be a stylish complement to a skirt. Knee length socks generally uses double knitting technology to prevent them from rolling down.
We hope that these three factors will help you to pick out a good pair of baby socks that are comfy and stays on. As we have emphasized on our other articles, buy quality rather than quantity. Especially for baby socks, it is important to pick the right materials and constructions to make sure the socks are comfy to wear and they actually stay on your baby’s feet for more than a few days. A good pair of socks can lasts 3-4 years (good for hand-me-down) while poor quality socks will not last more than 6 months (usually becoming loose or lose form). If you wear a pair of socks a day, 7-10 pairs of good quality socks will serve you 3-4 years. In that same period of 3-4 years, you will go through about 56 pairs of poor quality socks. 56 vs 10 pairs, a shocking number and you are probably spending more money on those 56 pairs than the 10 pairs. Not to mention the extra amount of resources used and carbon emission associated with those 56 pairs.
So we hope this article not only help you to pick out baby socks that are comfy and stay on, but also help you to make a good decision to reduce waste and save our environment.