How to knit baby hats

Updated April 13, 2018

Baby hats keep sensitive young heads warm in the coldest of weather. A hand knit hat can quickly become a favourite wardrobe item or a cherished family heirloom. Whether knit as a gift for someone else or for your own baby, the time and effort put into knitting a baby hat will warm the heart as well as the head.

Figure out the circumference of the child's head. If possible, measure it. Generally, premature babies are 12 inches in circumference, small newborns are 13 inches in circumference, and large newborns are 14 inches in circumference, while a 1 year old baby has an average head circumference of 17 inches.

Cast on using your yarn and needles. Make a slipknot around one needle, and keep making backwards loops. Continue looping until you have slightly less than the approximate measurement, in inches, of the hat you've chosen to make when the stitches are slightly stretched on the needle.

Begin to knit by inserting needle 1 through the back of the first loop on needle 2. Wrap the yarn counter clockwise around needle 1, creating a new loop. Keep this new loop on needle 1 using tension, and slide needle 1 out from beneath the old loop. Slide the old loop off of needle 2, letting it fall. Do not transfer it to needle 1.

Continue the motions of Step 3 until you reach the end of a row. Turn needle 1 around, and begin the process again.

Continue knitting each row until the hat is the approximate height needed to cover the baby's head. This should be about 5 inches.

Cut the thread, leaving a long tail. Thread this tail of yarn through a tapestry needle.

Thread the tapestry needle and yarn through the stitches at the top of the hat. Pull tightly on the threaded needle, and pull the stitches off of the knitting needle.

Sew a seam down the back of the hat, and secure any loose yarn ends with the tapestry needle.


Every yarn and knitting needle combination provides different results. Knit a test sample beforehand to get an idea of how many stitches are in each inch of knitting with your chosen needles and yarn. Use machine washable and dryable yarn for ease of care. Baby items often get dirty.


Use a yarn softer than you would for adults. Babies have sensitive skin, and what may feel soft to you could very well irritate a child's skin. If the hat is a gift, inquire beforehand about any allergies the child might have, especially to wool.

Things You'll Need

  • Knitting needles
  • Yarn
  • Measuring tape
  • Tapestry needle
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About the Author

Elizabeth Tumbarello has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites. She is an animal lover who volunteers with her local Humane Society. Tumbarello attended Hocking College and is pursuing her Associate of Applied Science in veterinary technology from San Juan College.