Is Polyester Safe for Babies?

Is Polyester Safe for Babies?

As parents, we are always looking out for what's best for our little ones, especially when it comes to their clothing and bedding. Choosing the right fabric is an important decision when it comes to everything from clothing to crib sheets. While more and more baby items seem to be made from synthetic materials, like polyester, you might be wondering which materials are the best for your baby.

Unfortunately, many popular materials are processed with harsh chemicals and toxins that cause irritation to delicate skin and wreak havoc on the environment.  If you’re wondering, “Is polyester a safe choice for babies?” We’ve got you covered, Mama! This post explores everything from how polyester is made to how it can impact your baby’s sensitive skin. After reading, you’ll have a better understanding of why it might be best to say no to polyester and yes to safer, more environmentally friendly fabrics. 

What is Polyester Fabric? 

Polyester is a popular synthetic fiber derived from petroleum-based chemicals and is one of the most widely used fibers in the textile industry (1).  Known for its durability, wrinkle resistance, and quick drying time, polyester is often used for clothing, bedding, upholstery, and other textiles. Oftentimes, polyester is combined with other fabrics, such as cotton or other natural fibers. However, it can also be used on its own.

Polyester fabric is made using raw materials derived from petroleum, like ethylene glycol and dimethyl terephthalate. These materials then undergo a chemical process called polymerization, creating long chains of polymers. (For reference, this is the same process used for plastic bottles made with PET.) To turn polyester polymer into fabric, the polymer chains are spun into threads, which are woven or knit into fabric. 

What Is Recycled Polyester? 

Recycled polyester fabric is made from recycled plastic materials, typically from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles or other post-consumer waste. The process involves collecting plastic bottles, cleaning and shredding them into small pieces, melting them down, and then spinning the melted plastic into fibers that can be woven into fabric. The recycled fabric has many of the properties of virgin polyester, such as durability, wrinkle resistance, and moisture-wicking capabilities. 

While recycled polyester may be considered a “better” and more sustainable version of polyester, it ultimately shares the same overall safety and pollution concerns. 


Is Polyester Safe for Baby's Sensitive Skin?

While polyester is generally considered “safe,” it isn’t the best or most gentle option for a baby’s sensitive skin. While versatile, durable, and quick-drying, the fabric has several downsides that raise concerns for parents. One major downfall of polyester is its lack of breathability. Polyester tends to trap heat and moisture, leading to discomfort, especially in warm weather. Since babies struggle to regulate their body temperature, this lack of breathability may increase the risk of overheating. 

Additionally, babies may be prone to irritation and reactions from the various chemicals used in polyester production, including dyes, stabilizers, and flame retardants. These chemicals can cause reactions that manifest as skin irritation or rashes, particularly for those with conditions like eczema. Therefore, to protect a baby’s delicate skin, it’s best to select naturally soft, hypoallergenic, and breathable fabrics for their clothing and bedding.

The Environmental Impact of Polyester

While skin concerns are at the top of many parents’ lists, the production of polyester raises a fair share of environmental red flags. In fact, polyester is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the fashion industry (2). 

Not only are petroleum-based materials like polyester non-renewable and non-biodegradable, but polyester also requires high amounts of energy during production and leads to substantial environmental pollution. One of the biggest environmental pollution concerns with polyester is water pollution, especially as the fabric contributes to our microplastic crisis. Every time polyester is washed, these microplastics are released and eventually find their way into water sources and, eventually, our bodies. 

All of these environmental impacts raise pressing concerns about the growing reliance on polyester fibers.

What Other Fabrics Should Babies Avoid?

In addition to polyester, babies should also avoid fabrics such as:

  • Nylon: While durable and stretchy, nylon can trap heat and cause discomfort for babies, especially in warmer weather.
  • Rayon: Despite being derived from natural materials and often being marketed as “sustainable”, rayon can be treated with various harsh chemicals during manufacturing (3). As a result, it may lead to irritation of sensitive baby skin. 
  • Polypropylene: This synthetic fiber can lack breathability and may cause skin irritation in some babies.
  • Acrylic: While this fabric mimics wool's softness, it lacks its natural breathability, doesn’t regulate temperature well, and can irritate sensitive skin.

Is Cotton or Polyester Better for Baby Blankets and Clothes?

Cotton, especially when organic, is generally considered a better option than polyester for baby blankets and clothes. Organic cotton is grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, making it safer for babies' delicate skin. Additionally, this natural fiber is breathable, soft, and hypoallergenic, reducing the risk of irritation or allergic reactions. Organic cotton provides a naturally comfortable option for babies and toddlers, making it a better option over polyester. 

While polyester is made from non-renewable resources and does not break down easily, organic cotton is biodegradable. This greatly reduces the fabric’s environmental impact, making it a gentler option for the planet as well. Overall, organic cotton provides a natural, safe, and environmentally friendly option for baby blankets and clothes.

Tencel Fabric: A Safe Alternative

While organic cotton offers a safer alternative to polyester, Tencel Lyocell is a standout choice for baby clothes, blankets, and bedding for several reasons. Tencel Lyocell is derived from renewable natural wood fibers and is produced using a highly sustainable closed-loop system. Therefore, it offers parents an eco-friendly alternative to polyester and other synthetic fabrics. 

The benefits of Tencel don’t stop with its eco-friendly production. Tencel fibers are naturally silky soft, creating a gentle and soothing fabric that is perfect for sensitive skin.  Unlike polyester, Tencel offers exceptional breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities, helping babies regulate their body temperature and avoid discomfort from overheating, night sweats, or dampness. Tencel is also naturally hypoallergenic, ensuring the fabric is a safe and gentle option for delicate and sensitive skin. 

Between its sustainable production and ideal qualities for maximum comfort, Tencel is an ideal fabric choice for baby clothing and bedding. 

Polyester vs Tencel Lyocell Cuddle sprouts chart

Polyester vs. Tencel: A Comparison

While both Tencel and polyester have their advantages, Tencel is a much better choice for baby clothes due to its softness, breathability, and eco-friendly production process. In terms of comfort, Tencel fabric provides a soft and smooth surface. It's also highly breathable and has moisture-wicking properties, ensuring optimal comfort and thermoregulation, especially in warm weather. On the other hand, polyester is less breathable than Tencel and may not be as comfortable for babies, especially in hot and humid conditions.

While polyester's durability and ease of care make it a practical option for certain baby products, Tencel can also be washed repeatedly while maintaining softness and quality. Additionally, while polyester is the cheaper option, it’s worth investing in high-quality, safe, and sustainable heirloom pieces for your little one. 

Without a doubt, Tencel is the more environmentally friendly option. Polyester is derived from petroleum-based chemicals, uses a lot of energy during production, and leads to long-lasting environmental concerns. Tencel, on the other hand, is produced from sustainably sourced wood pulp and manufactured in a closed-loop process that minimizes environmental impact.

Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on individual priorities. However, Tencel offers superior qualities in comfort, safety, and sustainability over polyester, making it an ideal option for baby clothing and bedding.

Cuddle Sprout's Dedication to Quality Baby Clothes

At Cuddle Sprouts, we know a mother’s love firsthand. That’s why we are dedicated to providing the best in quality, comfort, and sustainability for your little one. We've integrated Tencel fabric into our product lines to ensure that each garment wraps your baby with the utmost care and comfort. From comfy footies and cozy pajamas to cuddly blankets and soothing crib sheets, our Tencel products offer unparalleled softness for babies and peace of mind for parents.

Choose the Best For Your Baby

While polyester may offer convenient styles at affordable prices, your baby’s safety and comfort—and the well-being of our planet—are simply not worth the risk. Opting for Tencel ensures your little one can cuddle up without the concerns associated with synthetic, petroleum-based fabrics.

We invite you to explore Cuddle Sprout's practical styles and quality designs made with our signature Tencel fabric. Together, let's prioritize baby health and happiness with fabrics that truly care.

Shop Cuddle Sprouts’ Tencel baby clothes.   


1. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA), Polyester

2. CNBC, Polyester is one of the biggest polluters in fashion — here’s what one CEO wants to do about it

3. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA), Rayon (Viscose)

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