Fleece vs Cotton Crib Sheets

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Of all the bedsheet choices you might need to make, probably the most important one to get right is choosing sheets for your baby’s crib.

Not only do they need to be comfortable and durable but they also need to be safe – as in easy to keep secure and breathable – as well as non-irritating and gentle on baby’s skin as possible. A tall order perhaps, but one that parents everywhere have trusted cotton crib sheets to meet for decades.

More recently, you may have heard about fleece crib sheets. But what are they, and how do they stack up against tried and true cotton? That’s what we are going to take a closer look at here.

For a very quick taste:

You and baby will LOVE fleece crib sheets if:

  • You are looking for a very soft sheet that has a warm, slightly fuzzy texture.
  • You are looking for a less expensive rib sheet option.
  • The temperatures outside are lower, and you want to make sure the baby stays warm.

You and baby will, on the other hand, LOVE cotton crib sheets if:

  • You want an all season crib sheet
  • Baby has very sensitive skin
  • You don’t mind spending a little more

What are Fleece Crib Sheets?

fabric for crib sheets

Fleece fabric is usually woven and brushed into a light weight fabric from a type of polyester called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or other synthetic fibers. Other materials, such as natural fibers like wool or recycled fibers like recycled PET plastic, can be used and added to the fabric.

In terms of feel, fleece sheets are usually still lightweight, but they have a warmer, fuzzy texture.

TILLYOU All-Season Micro Fleece Plush Fitted Mattress Sheet for Standard Crib or Toddler Bed, Luxury Soft Crib Sheet for Baby Boy Girl, Anti-Pilling Velvet and Thermal Warm, 28x52x8, Geometric Arrows

Click here to see this all-season micro flees crib sheet on Amazon

Fleece Crib Bed Sheets Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • Offer plenty of warmth for colder weather.
  • Can be found in all kinds of bright colors and patterns, and can be a great way to enhance a nursery decor scheme.
  • Soft to the touch
  • Moisture wicking, so Baby’s skin stays dry even if they get hot.
  • Usually an inexpensive choice

Cons

  • Are harder to launder than some other crib sheet choices
  • May be prone to pilling over time
  • May not be the best choice for babies with very sensitive skin.
  • Fleece absorbs odors quickly, so may need to be washed more often to keep it fresh.

How To Wash Fleece Crib Sheets

Doing laundry (blankets) in washing machine

While you should always check the laundry label for specific instructions, in general the best way to wash fleece rib sheets is as follows:

  • Plan to wash the sheets separately on a low temperature setting if you are using the washing machine, or in lukewarm water if you are laundering them by hand. Fleece is prone to shrinkage, so hot water will shorten its useful lifespan.
  • Make use of a hypoallergenic, gentle laundry detergent that’s free of dyes and additives. Baby Dreft is an excellent choice.
  • Where possible, line dry. If that is not possible, use the lowest possible dryer setting. Instead of using dryer sheets, try dryer balls, as these will not add potentially irritating chemicals and will also help prevent pilling.
Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Hypoallergenic Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent (HE), Natural for Baby, Newborn, or Infant, 32 Loads (Packaging May Vary), 50 Fl Oz (Pack of 2)

Click here to see Baby Dreft on Amazon

What are Cotton Crib Sheets?

As mentioned earlier, cotton has been the go-to choice for crib sheets for decades. Crafted from all natural cotton fiber, they are cool to the touch, smooth and soft and very easy to launder.

While they help keep the baby cool in the summer, they are still heavy enough for fall and winter use too.

Luvberries - 100% Organic Cotton Fitted Crib Sheets (Set of 2), for Standard Crib and Toddler Mattresses, for Baby and Toddler, Boys & Girls, Unisex (Grey and White)

View this 2-set of 100% organic cotton fitted crib sheets on Amazon

Cotton Crib Sheet Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Cool to the touch, cooling on Baby’s skin
  • All natural and hypoallergenic
  • Can be used all year round
  • Easy to launder
  • Durable

Cons

  • Are usually a more expensive choice
  • May not be warm enough on very cold nights
  • Bright colors and patterns may fade faster than you’d like.

How to Wash Cotton Crib Sheets

While ease of laundering is one of the big advantages of cotton crib bedding, there are still some things to keep in mind

While cotton crib bedsheets can be safely washed on a hot water setting, a cooler setting may help prevent brighter colors from fading too quickly.

To help protect the cotton fibers, and reduce the number of chemicals coming into contact with baby’s skin, make use of a gentle laundry detergent that is free of dyes and strong perfumes. You can use bleach on cotton, but a bleach free alternative is effective too and gentler on the fabric.

If you are going to tumble dry cotton crib sheets, make use of dryer balls instead of dryer sheets, as these will help preserve the smooth weave that makes cotton so soft and cool.

Wool Dryer Balls - Natural Fabric Softener, Reusable, Reduces Clothing Wrinkles and Saves Drying Time. The Large Dryer Ball is a Better Alternative to Plastic Balls and Liquid Softener. (Pack of 6)

View these wool dryer balls on Amazon

Cotton Crib Sheets Vs. Fleece Crib Sheets: A Comparison

A sleeping baby boy in white crib with an overhead hanging toy

Feel

Cotton sheets have a smooth, flat weave and are usually cool to the touch. Fleece sheets tend to feel fuzzier and a little softer than a standard cotton crib sheet. Fleece is also prone to pilling over time, although that can be prevented by careful laundering, including making use of dryer balls in the tumble dryer.

Temperature Regulation

Cotton sheets sleep cool, making them an excellent choice for the summer. Fleece, while warmer, does have moisture wicking properties that will draw sweat and excess heat away from baby’s skin to help prevent overheating.

Durability

This is one area where cotton will often be the clear winner. In addition to being a more robust fabric than fleece, cotton does not absorb odors as readily as fleece does, so may not need to be washed as often.

Flexibility

We don’t always think about how flexible a fabric is when it comes to bed sheets, but for crib beddings it can be important. It is very important to only ever make use of snug fitting sheets in a crib, as sheets that are too loose, or that fit badly to the point where Baby can grab a fistful can be dangerous. As fleece sheets are often more flexible and forgiving than cotton, this may make fitting them properly easier, especially when using a bassinet.

Cotton sheets can still fit just fine, as long as you ensure that you have the right size.

Looks

Parents do like to make their child’s nursery look nice, and their bedding is a part of that. As modern medical guidance recommends that a baby’s bedding is kept to a minimum for their safety, and that things like quilts should not be used in a crib, then a crib sheet’s looks can be quite important.

Cotton can be dyed any color and feature any patterns, but these will often fade over time. Often, fleece can be found in bright colors and patterns more readily and these, thanks to the fact that you’ll be laundering them very carefully (as we just discussed) should stay looking good for as long as you need them to.

Price

Good quality cotton crib/toddler sheets are often one of the most expensive choices you can make, while fleece sheets can be found at more affordable price points. For adult sheets, cotton usually offers great long term ROI though, as they last longer than fleece. This is less of a consideration for crib sheets, as they won’t be in use for as long.

Fleece vs. Cotton Crib Sheets: A Final Takeaway

As we’ve discussed, both fleece and cotton have their pros and cons, but both make an excellent choice for crib sheets. The final choice will be up to you, keeping in mind what is best for your child’s unique needs. It may not be a bad idea, however, to make use of both: cotton to keep baby cool in the summer, fleece to help ensure they are warm and cozy in the winter. That’s not even a bad idea for your own bed either!

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