My sweet baby is napping next to me as I type this. He fell asleep on my chest in his baby carrier while on a winter walk, and as every mom knows, you do everything in your power to keep a sleeping baby from waking. That’s why I turned down the heat in the bedroom instead of taking off his outdoor clothes, and I gently lay a knit blanket over him, hoping to mimic the pressure he felt held up tight against my body in the baby carrier.

Underneath his furry blue monster-suit (a gift from his loving aunt) you might just spy a simple striped knit. Take another look. That blue and black vest is the first item I knit after he was born, and has been one of the most worn and well loved items ever since. Sneaking in stitches between baby cuddles, it took me a couple weeks to knit. I really wished I had knit it before he was born, when I could have whipped it up in an afternoon, but I didn’t realize what a useful, practical item it would be until I was daily struggling to dress his fussy, flailing limbs.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of some tips when knitting for newborns. While I’m no expert (I do only have the one baby), I have learned quite a lot in these past 3 months. Whether you’re knitting for your own baby or a gift for the baby of a friend, follow these tips to make knits that will be truly appreciated and put to use.

Knitting For Newborns: Tips and Tricks

1. Babies grow like weeds, so when knitting clothing, err on the side of too large.
Those booties -too small to even take him home from the hospital in. That hat -way too big when he was born but fits him perfectly at 2.5 months.

2. Babies spit up, so use washable yarns. Also, prepare yourself mentally for milk stains on your knits.

 It’s the second part of this advice that is more difficult. Despite the washable yarn, I have to admit that I panicked when my baby first drooled all over the elephant blanket I’d so lovingly knit for him. But I realized I’m happier that he’s fully enjoying its coziness than I would be if it were kept out of reach of his spit-up.

3. Although they don’t come out of the womb noticing or caring about cute dolls and stuffed animals, it doesn’t take more than a couple months before they find them fascinating, so go ahead and knit that squishy toy or stuffed animal.

Okay, maybe I’m the one that’s more obsessed with stuffed animals than my baby. But really, he started smiling at the faces of his stuffed animals at around 2 months, and I expect his love for them will only grow.

4. Also a big hit after only a few months: things that hang and swing. Knit them a mobile!

Again, it only took two months, and baby is now obsessed! This is just a felt mobile, purchased from Ikea. I didn’t knit him a mobile, but I wish I had, and I am going to remedy that ASAP. I’m dreaming of one made of bright colorful fish. He’ll love it.

5. Babies are hard to dress, so knit stretchy things. Ribbed stitches are your friends. Intarsia less so.

That blue vest I introduced you to at the beginning of the blog post: it’s ribbed very deliberately. Ribbing is easy to pull on, and stretches as baby grows, so will be useful for months. 

6. Try to avoid knits you will have to pull over their heads. Embrace the cardigan and the shoulder button. 

Another wonder of that blue vest: I never have to pull it over baby’s head and risk inducing angry crying. Its shoulder buttons allow me to pull it up from below. I just finished this orange cardigan with the same avoid-involving-the-head-when-dressing principle. It opens and closes in the front with snaps.

7. Hats with ears are seriously cute… but, they’re everywhere on babies these days! Knit up a hat with pompom, just for a bit of variety.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of the ears. I even have a half-dozen baby hats with ears marked on my Ravelry page. But over the past couple of months, having my own baby has made me much more aware of the babies all around me, and it seems that, at least here in Germany, there are so many ears on baby hats that hats without them are the exotic rarity. That’s why I love dressing my baby in this hat with its sweet pompom, a knit present from my grandmother.

8. Embrace baby-ness in your knitting. It’s a fleeting time.

This means different things for different people. If you’re a lover of baby blues and pinks, stock up on those yarns and go to town! I prefer bright colors, but I love that, for babies, I don’t have to concern myself with fashion conventions, and can go a bit nuts with color combinations (see the orange/red cardigan above). I also love how much cute animals can be involved. 

It’s your turn. What are your best tips when knitting for newborns? What are some particularly well loved (or particularly unsuccessful) knits you’ve made for newborns in the past?