I read a lot while I was pregnant, like, probably too much. So, I can't remember how I stumbled onto an article in Time about allergies and babies sleeping on fur, but I did.
In said article, researchers studied and tracked almost 2,500 German babies from their first months of life through age ten. Those who slept on animal fur during the first three months were found to have less susceptability to asthma and allergies than their peers who did not sleep on animal fur. Animal skin and fur have microbial properties that give children early exposure to certain germs, potentially alleviating allergies as they grow.
As I am always trying to be crunchier and use more natural products in our home, this sounded like something I wanted to try. My dilemma, though, is that I would never wantonly buy animal fur from some mystery retailer. I knew our only chance at purveying animal fur in a way I could feel good about was by asking my grandfather. My grandpa hunts deer, squirrel, and turkey, all in their respective seasons, and uses all of it that he can. What he doesn't use is sold.
I knew he would be hunting for a buck later last year so I asked him, if he got one, if he could save a piece of the hide for us to use in her crib. He had a hand towel-sized pelt cut for her.
Mila slept on it for the first three months of her life. I checked on her the first couple mornings to make sure she didn't have any sort of reaction from it, and she didn't. It was surprisingly heavy so I felt confident that she couldn't move it or maneuver under it, and it also kept her warm in the night. The few times she did spit up on it, it was really easy to wipe clean with a dry cloth.
We took it out of her bed shortly after three months and now it sits decoratively on a cedar chest in our room.
I really wouldn't recommend just buying fur from anyone out there; I think it's important to be mindful of the industries you support. I only did this because I know my grandfather, exactly where the fur came from, and how the rest of the animal was used. I have major concerns about poaching, farming animals, meat consumption, and animal welfare in general, so it was important to me that this be a true heirloom, something both sourced with respect and given with love.
We will use it again with any other babies we may have. So there it sits, on the chest, waiting for the next one.
...And I'll let you know in nine and a half years if Mila has asthma.