There is nothing like showing up in this world tinier than your parents anticipated and being left wearing baggy baby clothes as a result. Let’s face it, when a baby is early or low birth weight, very often it is unexpected so you’re left running out to every baby store in town looking for something tiny enough that baby won’t look like one of those kids in the baggy pants that hang down around his knees.
Trust me, I’ve been there. When I found out I was expecting, I looked at my tall fair husband and told him that we may not know this little person about to join our family yet but we could be certain the baby would be big, blonde, and kind (like us). Well, LB arrived tiny, dark, and smiling. At least he got the important trait!
Sure, being naked all day was socially acceptable and comfortable in the warm womb, but in Ireland that just doesn’t fly. And without the baby fat that gets piled on in the final weeks of a healthy pregnancy, it is essential that hats, booties and cardigans be part of a tiny baby’s everyday wardrobe. We hunted high and low for clothing that was tiny enough but even the sizes marked ‘early baby’ or ‘premature’ made him look like he was a college student lounging by the pool on holiday. Which isn’t bad because LB does have a very chill attitude about him so he made it work. But what also made it work was hand knits because they are forgiving and cosy.
I was also fortunate to have a Mom who immediately rang up a company in the States and ordered a whole wardrobe for LB in the tiniest sizes available. They were the most darling things! But it is the hand knits that last for months! I’m not kidding, every single one of his hand knit cardigans lasted at least six months. Many are easy to add onto for them to last another few months. And they add such personality to his outfits. I’ve included a couple photos of LB’s hand knits that worked from birth and a bunch of links to knitting patterns that work for premature, tiny and low birth weight babies. You can read the post on my favorite baby cardigans if you want to know more about which ones I received and love. So get knitting! A nice plan might be to knit a few of these in neutral colors then either donate them to Irish Premature Babies OR keep them on-hand so once a friend has a low birth weight baby you can drop it in the mail and be a hero (I’m not kidding about the hero part).
Preemie Knitting Patterns
Here are some patterns I found useful when my son was born tiny. Some are premature or early baby sized while others can be easily adapted for smaller sizing:
Iceling Cardigan by Carol Feller is a favorite of mine because the shawl collar keeps baby’s neck warm and the garter stitch cuffs can be rolled back when baby is tiny which gives it longer use. My son wore his Iceling Cardigan from birth through six months.
Óg Preemie Baby Hat by Evin Bail O’Keeffe
The Danish Octo Book: How to make comforting crochet toys for babies – the official guide
Early Arrivals (Booklet 280) from Sirdar
Kanoko Pants by Yumiko Sakurai (shown below) – the smallest size that I knit for LB fit him from birth through nine weeks (11 lbs). It can easily be made smaller though (we had to fold up the legs and cinch in the drawstring for the first month).
Baby’s Beanie Hat by Erika Knight (shown below) from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies (available from Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk) – This is the hat my LB wore in the hospital ward and for the first days at home. It was roomy on him but the Sirdar Crofter DK was a great choice for weight and stretch factor. NOTE: Ribbed bottom is better than rolled brim because it rests flat against the baby’s head when sleeping instead of a lumpy feeling from the rolled edge.
The oddest part about welcoming such a tiny bundle is imagining him any bigger. Well, two years later, LB is 27 pounds and 33.5 inches.
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