How to Knit Hats for Newborns

Written by lizzie brooks
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How to Knit Hats for Newborns
It is gratifying to knit hats for babies who are too young to yank them off. (garn image by pe-foto from

Hats are a popular choice for handmade gifts for infants as they are small, relatively quick to make and useful. Humans lose 30 to 50 per cent of their body heat through their heads, and newborns are so tiny that they don't have much heat to lose. A knitter who already knows how to cast on, knit, purl and decrease can make this simple hat, which is knit flat, or back and forth on two needles.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 99.2gr. of yarn
  • Knitting needles of appropriate size for your yarn (check the yarn label)
  • Measuring tape
  • Darning needle
  • Safety pins

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    Project Planning

  1. 1

    Examine different yarns and choose the kind of fibre you wish your hat to be made from. Newborns have thin and delicate skin, so choose a yarn that is very soft. Touch the yarn to your neck or the inside of your wrist to test the softness of the yarn. Any baby garment should be easily washable. New parents may be too busy and intimidated by hand-wash garments to let their child wear them. Soft acrylics are usually quite washable. Some parents prefer natural fibres, in which case cotton, bamboo or a soft superwash (unshrinkable) wool is a good choice. The colour of yarn is up to the knitter.

  2. 2

    Pick the weight of yarn you would like to use. The yarn label lists the weight of all commercially produced yarns. Fine -- 23 to 26 stitches per 4 inches; Light -- 21 to 24 stitches per 4 inches; and Medium weight -- 16 to 20 stitches per 4 inches -- are all good choices.

  3. 3

    Knit a swatch. Cast on the number of stitches required for 4 inches, as indicated by the label, and knit until your fabric swatch is at least 4 inches long. Cast off. Wash and dry the swatch. Measure the number of stitches you have across 4 inches of your swatch. This is your stitch gauge.

  4. 4

    Decide on the circumference you would like your hat to be. Typically, a preemie has a head circumference of approximately 12 inches, a small newborn of 13 inches and a large newborn of 14 inches. Divide your chosen circumference by four and multiply this by your stitch gauge. Round this number up or down so that it is divisible by five, six, seven, eight or nine, which will be important during the decreases at the top of the hat. For example, if you wish to make a hat that has a 14-inch circumference and you have a stitch gauge of 20 stitches per 4 inches, divide 14 by 4 and multiply by 20 to get 70 stitches, which is divisible by seven and does not need to be rounded up or down.


  1. 1

    Cast on the number of stitches chosen in Step 4 of Section 1, leaving a 12-inch length of yarn to use for sewing up the hat later.

  2. 2

    Knit the brim of the hat by knitting 1 to 2 inches in a non-rolling stitch pattern such as garter stitch (knit every row) or 1 x 1 ribbing (knit one, purl one across every row over an even number of stitches).

  3. 3

    Knit the body of the hat in stockinet by knitting the right-side rows and purling the wrong-side rows until the work measures 4 inches in length.

  4. 4

    Begin decreasing for the crown on a right-side row. Find the number by which your number of stitches is divisible. Subtract two from this number. Knit this new number of stitches and then knit two together; repeat across. For example, if your number of stitches is divisible by seven, knit five stitches and knit two together, knit five stitches and knit two together, etc. across the row.

  5. 5

    Purl across the next wrong-side row. On the right-side row, knit one less stitch and knit two together. In our example, you would now knit four and then knit two together.

  6. 6

    Decrease in this manner on every other row until you have less than 10 stitches left. Cut your yarn and thread it onto your darning needle. Thread your yarn through all remaining stitches and pull tight.


  1. 1

    Turn the hat inside out and use the safety pins to secure the edges of the back seam together. Using your darning needle and the long tail left after casting on, sew together the back seam of the hat, making sure that your seam is as smooth and flat as possible.

  2. 2

    Weave in all ends.

  3. 3

    Wash the hat to remove any chemicals left from the production of the yarn and any dirt acquired during yarn transport.

Tips and warnings

  • Use up small amounts of leftover yarn by knitting the brim of the cap in one colour and the body of the cap in a coordinating colour, or by knitting the entire hat in stripes.
  • Change the look of the hat by using a different stitch, such as moss stitch, basketweave stitch, cables, lace or colorwork instead of stockinet stitch for the body of the hat.
  • Attach a yarn label or note so that the recipient will know how to wash the hat.
  • If knitting newborn hats for donation to a hospital, check with them about what types of hats they allow. Some hospitals have specific requirements for baby clothing and may only accept hats made with particular patterns and fibres.

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