Congratulations! You or someone you love has heard the pitter patter of tiny feet, which means it’s time to get your yarn out and start knitting all those adorable baby items…
Making baby knits is joyful and exciting, but if we’re honest it can sometimes be a little anxiety-inducing too. There are so many things to consider, such as what yarn to use, which items will be practical, and how to make sure your knits are safe – and that’s before you’ve even chosen the perfect baby knitting pattern! But don’t worry, as we’ll answer all these questions and more below.
In this guide you’ll find plenty of advice, as well as great knitting ideas. We cover:
If you are looking for designs for premature babies, check out our premature baby knitting patterns article.
Top tips for baby knits
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when you’re knitting for babies. Follow our advice for successful baby knits…
Choose the right yarn
The three main things you need to think about when choosing a yarn for baby knits are fibre, yarn weight (see our yarn weight conversion chart) and washability.
For fibres, avoid anything that sheds (such as mohair or angora) or might irritate newborn skin (such as scratchier pure wools), and stay away from low-durability single-ply yarn if you want your knit to last! Smooth, soft fibres such as cotton, bamboo, baby acrylic and superwash merino wool are all good options.
Go for lighter weight yarns such as 4ply and DK at first, as heavier ones can be too chunky and restrictive on those tiny limbs. And always, always check the washing instructions – no matter how beautiful it is, that cold-hand-wash/dry-clean-only garment will inevitably end up in the back of the cupboard unworn. When it comes to baby knits, machine washable is king!
For more yarn advice check out our in-depth guide on how to choose the best yarn for baby blankets and clothes, which includes our pick of more than 20 super-soft baby yarns to try.
Go for a bigger size
Babies grow astonishingly quickly, and you don’t want all that hard work to go to waste! So instead of choosing the tiniest sizes (adorable as they are), consider sizing up. A garment they can grow into will be much more appreciated than one they almost immediately burst out of. You could even make your chosen pattern in a series of increasing sizes, to keep baby in precious hand-knits for many months to come.
Remember to take into account your knitting speed too. If you’re a slow knitter, or fitting your baby knits around other projects, don’t be tempted to cast on a size three months for an already two-month-old or by the time they receive it it’ll be too late!
Keep your baby knits practical
It can be tempting to make an heirloom knit in a luxurious, high-end yarn, but be realistic – will it actually get worn? It may not have the same wow-factor, but an acrylic garter stitch jumper is much more likely to find a lasting place in baby’s wardrobe. Similarly, burp cloths may not be fancy or cute, but they sure are useful in the early days.
If you do want to go all-out and treat a special little one to a timeless lace blanket, save yourself the heartache and check with the parents first!
When you’re choosing a baby knitting pattern, look for the signs of a thoughtful design. A good baby knit will be easy to get on and off (essential in case of nappy leaks…). If it’s a jumper, does it have buttons on the shoulder or an extra-wide neck? Does a onesie have poppers or other fastenings on the crotch? Do those socks and mitts have nice long cuffs to help them stay on? If the answer is no, you may be better finding a different pattern.
Choose seasonal baby knits
Do you know the due date? If so, plan your knitting around that! A summer baby probably won’t need a heavy jumper, and that cute sundress likely won’t be worn by a winter newborn. By keeping baby’s age in mind when you’re picking a pattern, you can ensure your knit will get worn for as long as possible.
Alternatively, side-step the problem by avoiding garments and knitting things for the nursery instead. Blankets, toys and bibs are our go-tos and can be used all year round.
Make sure your baby knits are safe
Babies explore the world with their mouths, so whatever you make will probably get chewed at some point. Bear this in mind as you knit! It’s crucial that any buttons or other sewn-on items are stitched firmly and securely, and that you avoid loose items such as cords and ribbons.
You might also want to choose a knitting pattern that features a tight, dense fabric (think textures rather than lace) so there are no holes for little fingers to get stuck in. Similarly, when knitting Fair Isle make sure you catch the floats regularly so there are no long strands on the back.
Toy knitters should swap safety eyes for embroidered ones and check that the stuffing and any other extras such as rattle boxes are baby-safe.
Have fun with your baby knits!
Let’s face it, babies don’t really care what they’re wearing, but it won’t be long before that little newborn has firm opinions about what they’re dressed in. So if you want to make that super-cute silly hat or novelty jumper, go for it now (and get the photos for the family album) before they’re too old!
Bigger babies and toddlers will appreciate tactile elements on their clothes, such as flaps that can be lifted, character motifs or patches, and pockets for holding favourite toys. Just check that they’re sewn on firmly, for safety reasons. Baby knits are also a great chance to have fun with colour and pattern combinations that you’d never consider for adults, so make sure you make the most of it…
What to knit for babies
When planning a new baby gift, you can’t go wrong with the three Bs: blankets, bibs and booties. Read on for more about these and other great baby knitting ideas.
1. Baby blankets
Every baby needs a cosy blanket to snuggle up under for trips out or cuddles on the sofa. If a full-size cot blanket feels like too much to take on, that’s ok! Smaller pram or car seat-sized blankets are really useful too.
An easy baby blanket for beginners is a simple garter stitch rectangle. For a pram size cast on around 140 stitches in DK weight yarn and just keep knitting every row until it’s the size you want, maybe adding some stripes in a contrast colour.
2. Baby toys
What could be better than a handmade toy, knitted with love? There are loads of ideas out there, so to narrow them down find out what baby’s nursery will be like and plan your knitting to match. Whether it’s jungle animals or graphic prints, there are toys to suit your theme. And don’t stop at softies: comforters, rattles, blocks and more also make sweet baby gifts.
This cuddly pirate from the latest Love Knitting for Baby magazine is a great example of a toy that will be cherished for a long time to come.
3. Baby cardigans
Easier to get on and off than jumpers and ideal for layering over sleepsuits when the weather turns, cardigans are an essential part of baby’s wardrobe. Choose open-fronted summer cardis for simpler making up (and quicker dressing), or pick wintry buttoned designs to keep tiny tummies covered and warm. Fair Isle yokes are a big trend at the moment, or go traditional with this lace-detail matinee jacket knitting pattern.
4. Baby hats
Who can resist knitting a baby hat? Easy, portable and speedy to finish, they’re a great little gift for new parents. Our basic baby hat knitting pattern is a go-to when you need a hat in a hurry!
Beanies tend to be the best baby hats as they fit snugly and are less likely to fall off, and bonnet or earflap styles are great for keeping the wind out of baby’s ears. If you’re a more confident knitter, look for patterns that are knitted in the round, as these will have no scratchy seams.
Have some yarn left over? Charities such as Bliss are always looking for knitted hats to send to neonatal units in need, so consider putting your scraps to use for a good cause.
5. Baby booties and mitts
Babies’ circulation systems are still developing, so they’re prone to having chilly hands and feet. Keep those little toes and fingers warm with snuggly hand-knitted booties, socks and mitts. These accesories are the perfect gift knits as they work up quickly and you can often make more than one pair from a single ball of yarn.
In terms of styles, the possibilities are endless! We love these cute character booties from Love Knitting for Baby magazine’s Christmas 2020 issue, which are made using simple garter stitch and stocking stitch.
6. Bibs and burp cloths
No, they’re not the most glamorous of projects, but we promise that those bibs and burp cloths will be much-needed by frazzled, milk-stained mums and dads!
Why not make a stack of simple square burp cloths and give them as a gift for the parents with some luxury handcream? Choose a hardy, machine washable yarn (an absorbent cotton like Lily Sugar N Cream Solids is ideal) and your favourite stitch – we have lots of free rib stitch patterns and moss stitch patterns to inspire you, or if you don’t fancy designing your own you can use our knitted dishcloth pattern.
More baby knits to make
Ready to cast on? Check out our list of the best baby knitting patterns for more inspiration. From blankets to jumpers, booties to rompers, it’s all there in our round-up…
Get more baby knits in Love Knitting for Baby
Find 20 brilliant baby knits in the Christmas issue of Love Knitting for Baby magazine, on sale now. It’s packed with ideas for the autumn and winter, including a stunning Scandi-style jumper, sweet cardigan, pirate toy, cosy dungarees and lots more! Plus, knit a very special gift for little ones using your exclusive zebra kit.