Choosing the right yarn can make or break a knitting project, and this is particularly true when it comes to knitting for babies. Put simply, there are more things to consider when choosing the best yarn for baby blankets or clothes than when you’re picking something for yourself.
Is the yarn machine washable, and preferably tumble dryable; is the dye colourfast and baby safe; is the finished fabric chew-proof and durable or will it shed fibres everywhere and wear out quickly? If there’s a chance baby will spit up on the beautiful matinee jacket knitting pattern you’ve knitted (trust us – they will), or attempt to gum their baby mittens to pieces, you need to know your knitting will survive!
Fortuntely, many of the major yarn brands have helped to make our lives easier by introducing their own ranges of baby yarns. Since these yarns are designed with little ones in mind you can be reassured that they’ll do the job – but which one to buy?
In this guide we’ll help you choose the best yarn for baby clothes and blankets. Below you’ll find what to consider when choosing the best yarn for baby blankets, plus our pick of the best soft yarns for baby blankets and clothes. Then make sure you check out our baby knitting patterns for something to make with your new yarn.
Baby blanket patterns
Once you’ve decided on your best yarn for baby blanket knitting and added it to your stash, you need a pattern to go with it. We have fantastic free blanket designs for both knitters and crocheters.
- Baby blanket knitting pattern
- Free baby blanket pattern to knit
- Free granny square baby blanket crochet pattern
- How to crochet a baby blanket
What to consider when choosing the best yarn for baby blankets
There might be enough yarn in those leftover half-balls in your stash to make a cute baby blanket, but that doesn’t mean you should! Before you cast on, make sure your chosen yarn is perfect for your project.
1. Yarn fibre
Fluffy fibres such as mohair, angora and alpaca may look snuggly, but when it comes to finding the best yarn for baby clothes they’re not a good option. Any shedded fibres could easily be swallowed, and they might also irritate baby’s sensitive skin. It’s also worth avoiding single-ply or ‘singles’ yarns in any fibre, as these will be less durable and more likely to shed.
Top fibre choices for baby knits include acrylic, cotton, bamboo and superwash wool (particularly merino), but whatever you choose make sure it’s soft, soft, soft. Take a trip to your local yarn store so you can smoosh the yarn and check its softness in person.
If you’re unsure what to buy, look for baby yarn brands that have been designed specifically with little ones in mind. Popular baby yarn ranges include Sirdar Snuggly DK and Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino – and we have lots more for you to try below.
2. Washing instructions
Spare time is one thing new parents really don’t have, so for everyday wear easy-care knits are an absolute must. Make sure you check the ball band before buying a yarn, and look for the symbol that shows it’s machine washable. Many yarns, especially acrylic ones, can also be put in the tumble dryer for extra convenience.
Remember though that machine washable doesn’t have to mean acrylic – nowadays there are lots of great superwash wools and other easy-care natural fibre blends available too.
3. Yarn weight
Whatever you make needs to stand up to the demands of a wriggly baby, so the choice of yarn weight is important. The heavier weight yarns on our yarn weight conversion chart, such as aran and chunky, can be too restrictive for a tiny newborn, so stick to lighter 4ply and DK yarns for baby clothing. You’ll find that many baby yarns come exclusively in these weights, which makes choosing much easier!
However, when baby’s a bit bigger these heavier yarns will be good for hats, winter jackets and short-sleeved items to layer up on cold days, so if you see any bargains think about snapping them up for future projects. They’re also great for making blankets, which would take a lot longer with a lighter yarn.
Gone are the days when the only baby yarns available were pale (some would say boring!) pastels. Now there’s a huge range, from dainty neutrals to eye-catching brights. Don’t be afraid to choose a fun colour palette, but bear in mind that bold colours can be less flattering on tiny babies. Make pale knits more practical by knitting the cuffs and collar in a darker contrast colour so that stains and spills don’t show up as easily.
For those who want to avoid the traditional blue for a boy, pink for a girl, there are plenty of unisex options to choose from, including orange, green and purple. Or how about modern monochrome, classic primary colours, or rainbow tones? Try playing around with different shades on a colour wheel for inspiration.
Keep the parents’ style in mind too when choosing a colour for baby knits. If they rock an edgy, punk-inspired look they may not want cutesy pastel motifs or fussy ruffles on their little one’s clothes.
The best way to check that your chosen yarn is perfect is to knit a swatch. It’s easy to skip this step when you’re eager to cast on a new project, but taking the time to check your knitting tension is worth the effort. By making sure that your fabric matches the tension given in the pattern, you can ensure that the finished result will be the right size. When you’re knitting for babies you’re working on a small scale, so even a few centimetres can make a big difference!
To make your swatch, simply knit a square at least 10x10cm in size, following the instructions given in your pattern (the tension may be given over stocking stitch, garter stitch or another specific stitch pattern). When it’s done, give it a wash following the instructions on the ball band, and let it dry. Now you can measure your swatch! If it comes out too small, you need to try a bigger needle size and repeat the process. If it comes out too big, you need to make another swatch using a smaller needle size. Keep going until you get one that’s just right.
Best soft yarns for baby blankets and clothes
Looking for the best yarn for baby blankets and clothes? We can help! Below is our pick of the top yarns to try today. We’ve broken them down into categories to make it easier for you to find what you need.
Best DK acrylic baby yarns
You can’t go wrong with acrylic DK for baby knits! Hard-wearing, machine washable and budget-friendly, it’s an all-round winner, whatever you’re making. (It’s a great choice for new knitters too, as we explain in our complete guide to knitting for beginners.)
Hayfield Baby Bonus DK
A brilliant budget option, Hayfield Baby Bonus DK is one of our favourites for baby blankets and toys. Proof that value acrylic doesn’t have to be scratchy, it’s gentle on your hands and on baby’s sensitive skin. Hardwearing and reliable, it can be machine washed and tumble dried, so parents will love it just as much as knitters do.
Sirdar Snuggly DK
Ask knitters to name their best yarn for baby clothes and you can be sure Sirdar Snuggly will be high up on the list. There are many different yarns in Sirdar’s super-popular Snuggly range, but Snuggly DK is the one we reach for time and again. It’s soft and smooth, machine washable, excellent value for money, and comes in dozens of colours. What more could you want?
King Cole Comfort Baby DK
King Cole’s Comfort yarn range is another of our go-tos for baby knits. A durable blend of supersoft nylon and acrylic, it comes in a variety of weights, from 3ply to chunky. Comfort Baby DK is a must-have for items that need to withstand the wear-and-tear of everyday use while still being cosy against the skin. Look out for the multicoloured Comfort Kids DK too.
Stylecraft Bambino DK
When easy-care qualities are a priority, you need a yarn that’s not only machine washable but can also be thrown in the tumble drier. Stylecraft Bambino ticks all our practicality boxes, while also being squashy and springy, and coming in a range of soft shades that will look adorable on mini knits. Check out the fantastic collection of Bambino patterns too.
Paintbox Yarns Baby DK
As the name suggests, a big selling point of Paintbox yarns is their brilliant palette of colours. Perfect for colourwork, Paintbox Baby DK comes in 25 shades that range from pale creams and pinks to bright jewel shades. With a cosy, washable blend of acrylic and nylon, it’s a perfect match for your favourite Fair Isle baby knit.
Best plush yarns for baby blankets
Our next set of yarns have been designed with blankets in mind, so they’re soft, cosy and, just as importantly, chunky – you’ll need to get your big needles out for some of these beauties! Whether you’re making a newborn-sized comforter or a sofa-sized throw, choosing a blanket yarn means you’ll have a snuggly knit off the needles in no time at all.
Bernat Baby Blanket
If you need a snuggly blanket in a hurry, you need Bernat Baby Blanket! This super-chunky yarn knits up in a flash on 8mm needles and comes in a range of solid shades. Its plush chenille-style texture is gorgeous to work with and super-soft against baby’s skin. Look out for the multicoloured sister yarns in the range, including eye-catching prints and stripes.
Bernat make so many great baby blanket yarns that we couldn’t resist featuring another one. Babies will love exploring the fluffy texture of Pipsqueak with their fingers and toes, and you’ll love cuddling them up in it. This fuzzy yarn has been tested for more than 300 harmful substances, so you know it’s safe for baby. Plus it can be machine washed and tumble dried.
King Cole Yummy
You can tell just by looking at this yarn that it’s going to be delightfully squishy – and it is! King Cole Yummy would have made our best yarn for baby blankets list for its softness alone, but it also boasts a fantastic range of colours, loads of supporting patterns for blankets and baby clothes, and it’s machine washable. Win!
James C. Brett Flutterby Chunky
Got a favourite chunky-weight baby blanket pattern? Go ahead and knit it up in James C. Brett Flutterby – you won’t be disappointed. This super-soft polyester yarn is available in a variety of solid and variegated shades, and knits up on 6mm needles. As well as being ideal for blankets, it’s also a good option for cuddly cardis, dressing gowns and more.
Lion Brand I Wanna Make A Blankie
The name says it all! If you wanna make a blankie and your deadline’s fast approaching, this yarn is the one for you. A single cake of Lion Brand’s super-bulky chenille yarn weighs a hefty 800 grams – that’s enough to make a 107cm (42inch) square knitted blanket. There’s even a pattern on the ball band so you can get started straight away. A great choice for beginners (and leave-it-to-the-last-minute knitters).
Best luxury baby yarns
You may be thinking that luxury yarn and babies don’t mix, but you’d be wrong – so long as you choose your yarn carefully. Some baby yarns include sumptuous natural fibres such as cashmere and silk, while still offering all the softness, and even many of the easy-care qualities, you need for little knits. The yarns below are perfect for casting on an heirloom…
Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino 4ply
Buy it to knit for baby, then buy it again to knit for yourself… Rowan’s Baby Cashsoft Merino is one of those yarns that you just fall in love with. Its cashmere-rich composition makes it butter-soft to touch, and it has excellent stitch definition that will elevate any lace or cable pattern. The colour palette goes beyond soft baby shades to include bold brights and even black, so if you want a classic yarn with a modern look this is it.
Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK
This gorgeous Italian-made yarn is perfect for those special newborn gifts. Adding silk to an elegant cashmere-merino blend gives your stitches a beautiful sheen, ideal for showing off the huge variety of subtle colours in the range. We’re thinking colourwork yoke cardigans, squishy cable rompers, striped sailor jackets… whatever your style, this is a yarn to inspire you.
West Yorkshire Spinners Bo Peep Luxury Baby DK
Superior fibres shouldn’t be limited to luxury yarns for adult garments, say West Yorkshire Spinners, and we agree with them. When only the best is good enough, wrap baby up in this beautiful Falkland Wool yarn, blended with nylon for extra toughness and durability. The co-ordinating variegated and solid shades are a nice touch and give you even more design options.
Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
No list of the best yarn for baby blankets would be complete without Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. The gold standard of luxury yarns for little knits, this sport weight yarn offers the versatility of merino, the strength of acrylic, and the softness of cashmere – plus it’s a joy to work with. Available in an incredible 49 shades, there’s a colour combo to fit every nursery and wardrobe. A great yarn for babies and beyond.
Best multicoloured baby yarns
Take the effort out of colourwork with a yarn that does the heavy lifting for you. These cheerful baby yarns knit up into stripes or variegated patterns that are sure to bring a smile to every new parent’s face. Whether you’re looking for pretty pastels, jewel tones or natural neutrals, there’s bound to be a colourway to suit…
Sirdar Snuggly Pattercake DK
Long-gradient cake yarns are right on trend at the moment, so get in on the style with a colourful nursery knit made in Sirdar Snuggly Pattercake. Whether you’re a new knitter who’s nervous about changing colours, or want to knit out and about without carrying lots of balls of yarn, this self-striping DK yarn will make creating bright, bold stripes a doddle. Plus it comes with a free blanket pattern on the ball band.
Caron Baby Cakes Aran
For a more traditional self-striping yarn look to Caron Baby Cakes, an aran-weight acrylic/nylon blend that knits up into yummy stripes of harmonious colour. Why not stripe two of the soft co-ordinating shades in the range for a blanket that’s truly unique? Gently machine wash and tumble dry your knits to keep them looking as good as new.
King Cole Cherish Baby DK
Create a Fair Isle effect without any of the effort with this self-patterning yarn from King Cole – keep quiet and no one will know you didn’t do it yourself! Cherish Baby DK knits up into an eye-catching stripe-and-pattern fabric that looks super-cute on snuggly baby cardigans and hats. With lots of subtly different shades to choose from, you’ll never run out of inspiration.
Cygnet Yarns Pure Baby Prints DK
Cygnet’s Pure Baby Prints DK is a 100% acrylic yarn made with anti-pilling technology to keep it looking and feeling new for longer, a must when baby is on the move! It comes in five prints that complement the solid shades also available in the range. Use it as an accent for pockets, collars and cuffs on a plain garment, or on its own to let those colourful stripes shine.
Best merino baby yarns
Wool – but softer! Merino is a brilliant fibre for baby knitting because it’s breathable and moisture-wicking, which helps to keep little ones a comfortable temperature all year round. Look for merino yarns labelled “superwash”, as these will be machine washable and easier to look after.
Novita Baby Merino 4ply
This lightweight 100% merino yarn from Finnish brand Novita has been crafted from the softest wool especially for babies’ and children’s knits. The colour palette is small but perfectly formed, and could easily be mixed and matched for colourwork. The 4ply weight makes this an ideal all-seasons yarn, offering warmth for winter without being too heavy for summer.
Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK
Spun from 66% superwash merino wool and 34% tussah silk, this luxurious yarn from Rowan will give your heirloom knits the wow factor. You’ll love the soft handle and easy care characteristics (yes, it is machine washable), while baby will enjoy the delicate, gentle touch of the yarn on their skin. Get creative with a mix of timeless pastels and playful bright shades.
DROPS Baby Merino 4ply
Great value superwash-treated extra-fine merino wool, in dozens of shades? We’re in! Drops Baby Merino is cable spun for excellent stitch definition, and it also has lots of elasticity and bounce, which makes it comfortable to work with (just keep an eye on your tension). Take advantage of DROPS’ huge range of free patterns to make baby a whole wardrobe of new clothes.
Katia Merino Baby
The best yarns for baby clothes are ones that you can depend on to deliver reliable results, no matter what you’re making, and Katia Merino Baby is one of those. First hat? Tiny baby booties? Toddler jumper? With this easy-care yarn you can make them all, and more. It has brilliant stitch definition, plus it’s gorgeously soft, which is perfect for delicate baby skin.
More buyer’s guides…
Find everything you need to start knitting today with our shoppping guides for yarn, needles and more!
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- Knitting starter kits and essentials for beginners
- 10 of the best knitting needles
Blankets aren’t the only things baby needs to keep cosy, especially when they are born early. Check out our premature baby knitting patterns to see what else to knit to keep little ones warm while they grow.