How To...

Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Elizabeth Bagwell


7 tips to ensure your baby knits get used

1. Remember that babies have really big heads
A new born baby’s head is often about 35cm (14in) in circumference. By contrast, a small adult size is around 50cm (20in) and large adult sizes are around 56cm (24in). Compared to adults or dolls, babies and toddlers seem out of proportion. They need really wide necks on sweaters. Cardigans and wraps are a safer bet. Following a tried and tested baby pattern, like this exclusive free Bergere de France one, is a good way to start.

2. New parents don’t dry clean
OK, there are exceptions, but don’t expect new parents to follow any complicated washing instructions, even if they’re ‘simple, really’ and ‘just take a minute’. Choose yarn for its indestructibility and emphasize how easy it is to clean in the card. Cotton yarns stand up to a lot of wear, and are usually easy to care for. You can even include a sewn-in washing label, if you want to be sure.

3. No one wants to ruin a handknit
Rather than risk destroying your work, many new parents will simply put it by for a special occasion. Even then, they will (rightly) assume that baby will be sick, or at very least drool, on it so may wait too long for it to be useable. Reassure parents that they can use and wash your work, and that you’d rather they use it and wreck it than not use it at all. Try to believe it, too!

4. Blankets last ages
While a tiny sweater will be outgrown in a few months, cot blankets become stroller blankets or car-seat blankets or snuggle at bedtime blankets which then get wrapped around dolls or used for a picnic in the garden. Pictured above, the Johan blanket by MillaMia makes a great gift and is also available as a free pattern here. Just try not to wince when your work gets trapped in the wheels of a pushchair.

5. Let your inner geek out
Many parents love dressing their kids to reflect their own hobbies or values. Knit something that makes the parent geek out, and it’ll be worn until it’s outgrown. It could be as complex as an intarsia version of a favourite cartoon character, or as simple as a hat in team colours.

6. Knit for a special occasion
Offer to knit a lace shawl for a christening wrap or a tiny Santa hat for baby’s first Christmas photo. It will probably only be worn once, but you’ll have photographic proof that it was used. It’s best to ask the parents first – there’s no point knitting an heirloom christening gown for a baby that’s never christened.

7. Make food and toys
Most kids get a toy kitchen or tea set at some point, and knitted food is a big hit. It’s fun to watch a baby play with a knitted cake slice or a knitted carrot, and they’ll go in the toy box for later games. It’s also easy to add to the collection, so you don’t have to think of something new for the next occasion. That said, all toys (as long as they’re securely sewn together) tend to be a hit with the 0-12 month set.

What tips would you share to ensure your baby knits gets used?

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About the Author

Elizabeth is a keen knitter, occasional designer, enthusiastic traveler and a professional freelance writer. She spent three years working for British knitting magazine, Simply Knitting, and has also written for The Knitter and other craft titles. She blogs at:

Last updated: February 11th, 2014.

11 Responses to 7 tips to ensure your baby knits get used

  1. Jane Turner says:

    I knit because I love to knit. It is a double blessing to have a loved one or a new baby to knit for. But being realistic, I know that not all of my knitted gifts will be worn by the intended user, for various reasons (wrong size, colour, or not to the giftee’s taste etc.), so I usually mention that if any of those reasons apply I am happy for the gift to be passed on to someone else, or donated to charity, rather than have it sit in a cupboard and never be used.

    Once I have handed over a gift, it is not mine any longer, so I am not going to get hung up over its fate.

  2. Mary Holt says:

    They are great tips and very sensible, I must admit I am one of those that get a bit sad if gift is not used when a lot of effort and love is put into it, so now I say please pass it on to someone else to use if you don’t think you will use it . And yes I agree most of the younger generation does not know how to care for luxury yarns. I love to knit with cashmere and rabbit angora, I have made these as gifts to have recipient upset that they ruined it in the wash machine (using normal wash powders) even after I told them to use only wool wash and hand wash, no tumble dry or spin dry!

  3. Sharon Smith says:

    I love to knit also – especially tiny baby sizes – I always suggest that if garments are too small that they be given to the prem unit at the hospital of baby’s birth or given to other friends with smaller babies – I then ensure that I make something else in a larger size for the baby that has lost out 😉

  4. Theresa Jones says:

    Firstly, I always knit a larger size than the baby currently is, so you know that if it doesn’t fit now they will grow into it. Also, I’m aware that my knitting usually comes up slightly smaller than it’s supposed to, so it’s better to be cautious!
    Secondly, if you can at least estimate when the knit will fit the baby, make sure it’s appropriate for that time of year, For example, there’s no point in knitting a thick snuggly jumper, that will only fit them in the summer months.

  5. Jane Erskine says:

    If, like me, you’ve been knitting as long as you can remember, don’t just rely on old favourite patterns. There are so many lovely modern designs now and it needn’t be costly if you look online or Ravelry for free patterns. Trendy items like kimono shapes and hoodies are almost sure to please whilst lacy matinee coats with flounces and ribbons (however cute) are seldom wanted except for perhaps a special occasion. There are some more luxurious yarns that are machine washable, but acrylic and man made blends come in lovely colours, and modern parents aren’t hidebound to white and pastels. It’s lovely to see one’s gift being used, but you can’t always get it right, and better it goes to someone else or the charity shop than it languishes in a drawer unused. Most Mum’s these days though are thrilled to get something handmade.

  6. Kate Jackson says:

    I’ve been knitting for many years and have seen other peoples garments ruined by putting the wrong buttons on. Buttons should complement a garment, but a button of the wrong size can menf it is never worn. If the buttons are too small, they won’t stay closed, too big and its a fight to get them done up. This is especially true if the gatment is for a baby or small child.

  7. Anne says:

    This article was so great…it reaffirmed what I have always thought AND gave me new ideas. I love to make hats, my twist is to make hats for the whole family – who does not like a gift and a cute one that needs to be worn in this lovely midwest winter 🙂

  8. barbara says:

    I always use machine washable yarn, most new mums don’t have the time to handwash 🙂
    Toys are great too, you can make a very simple all in one teddy bear that looks adorable and is just the size for those little fingers

  9. Sue Brandon says:

    I am always delighted when my hand knitted first size cardigans end up on a favourite teddy bear.

  10. Alison says:

    Many of my daughters friends have admired the knits I have made for my granddaughter’s and asked if I will knit for them. I always ask the parents to chose the yarn (with guidance, dry cleaning, and even hand wash is often not an option) and ask them about what style they like. As babies are not all the same size, for long and lean I will go at least size up for lengths and, for the more ample I might go a size up for width. Sue you are so right about the teddy cardi my daughters first size, very small, clothes were all kept for dollies. 🙂

  11. Veronica says:

    I always use machine washable wool for babies and young children.
    I create small envelope containing some thread and extra button if appropriate, on the front I put the washing instructions on the back the instruction to pass me on when I no longer fit.
    If it is the first time I am gifting to this person I include a washbag so they will feel more inclined to throw it in the machine.

    When making garments for the 6 – 9 months range I like to put colourful novelty buttons at the wrist of one of the sleeves. Keeps the child entertained.

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