Free Knitting Patterns for Premature Babies

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.

Baby Surprise Jacket

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 series I am writing on favorite baby cardigans (Part 1 and Part 2) 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 Purple & White Knitting Initiative 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).

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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 (shown above) 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

Puerperium Cardigan by Kelly Brooker – I’ve not knitted this but Missy has.

Oisin Hat by Cathy Mc Fadden

Premature Baby Bootees by Shepherd Yarns

Premature Baby’s Cardigan, Hat and Bootees by Lorna Hanson

Double knit V-neck raglan premature baby cardigan by Wye Needlecraft

Hat for premature babies by Ann Baker

Knitting Pattern No. 10 Premature Baby Onsie by Lynne Christie

Premature Baby Socks by Naturally Yarns

Premature Baby Set by Cynthia

Premature/Low Birth Weight Baby Body Warmer by Doris Lord

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.

Baby Hat in Sirdar Crofter

Heather Premature Baby Jacket by Denny Kelly

Little Miracle – premature cardigan by Anne Småbrekke

Cabled Preemie Hat by Marie Wright

Michelle’s Preemie-Newborn Booties and Hat by Michelle Howard

Preemie Hats for Charity by Carissa Browning

brassière by isaquarel

Simple Tiny Angel by Christine M Woolley

4ply V-Neck Raglan Cardigan by Wye Needlecraft

Olivia Preemie Booties by Jessie Driscoll

Design 6, Baby’s Raglan Sleeved Cardigan with Round Neck, Hat and Bootees by Patons UK

Bootees and Mittens by Stylecraft

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).

Cute little hand knit baby pants in Lion Brand Cotton-Ease

 

Black Sheep Wools has a fab post with a list of patterns too.

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!

Like what you’re reading? Comment with your favourite tiny baby project.

Did you know I design knitwear and published a book? Bake Knit Sew is available in paperback and ebook versions from select retailers (full list).

 eBook via Ravelry, $16 

Tags 10 Paperback, €16 

18 comments

  1. Patricia says:

    Hi,

    I have been looking to do some knitting or crochet for charity and am delighted to have found your site. I will knit a little item and post to you.

    Regards
    Patricia Carolan Byrne
    Drogheda

    • evinok says:

      So sweet, Patricia. Thanks for commenting. I don’t actually represent a charity so look for a local charity to knit for near you. Not that I’d turn down anything handmade ever, but my son is now a healthy two-year-old so no longer itty-bitty.

  2. Inga Nielsen says:

    I do a lot of knee rung knitting for the disable & elderly. I would lovr to knit a blanket for our little ones. Even though my son was full term he only weighted in at 4lb 7oz and the only size that your could get was 1 and so mother knitted him dolls clothes.
    Could you please let me know where I can take the blankets as I live in Bundaberg, Qld, Australia. Thank you.

  3. Meiri says:

    I am so happy to have found your site and be able to connect with fellow knitters in my adopted homeland. I do charity knitting and knitting for friends and acquaintances here in the US at present and love the patterns and links you’ve provided. I would love to correspond or chat with those interested to compare notes.
    Slainte! Meiri

  4. leanne trevena says:

    I love your site.
    My heart skipped a beat when I seen
    this site.
    My Son and Fiance’
    Have got gorgeous identical Baby Girls…
    Now 18 months.
    And not long ago
    was blessed with a Son.
    He was full term…
    But my gorgeous grandson
    was 120grams born.
    I havent been able to find patterns
    to make him little pants, tops, bootees.
    The only thing I was able to do was.
    Take a normal size beanie
    and do some maths to make
    My very own “BEANEETE.”
    I really hope you can help me with some patterns, so I can make some cute things for him.
    DANTE’ meaning…. Endure & Endure he did and is.
    Thank you.

    • Evin says:

      So sweet! Congratulations! I was surprised when our son at full-term was so tiny. Though 120 grams is a doll. I hope this post helped you find some patterns. Another option is to look at Cabbage Patch Doll or American Doll patterns maybe? Dante is a lovely and fitting name for him, Leanne. Again, hearty congratulations on your growing family.
      Evin

  5. Jenny says:

    I love the idea of keeping a few of them on hand incase they’re needed by friends. I’ve been meaning to knit a few for charity too. Thanks for posting the links!

  6. Greywolf Beanland says:

    (Yes, Greywolf is my real name)
    My beautiful Granddaughter was born a month late and a healthy weight of 7lb 3oz, but, she is rather tiny. Newborn clothing look as if she would fit in them twice over and still have room to spare and premature clothes are too small.
    Would any of the lovely patterns you have shared fit, or adapted to her size?
    As a severely disabled lady could you also tell me which ones are easy to knit as I can only hold my needles for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time (but I will push on for as long as I can)?
    Thank you for the wonderful pages you have shared.

    • Evin says:

      Greywolf, 
Baby’s Beanie Hat by Erika Knight might be a good place to start for you. It is a small enough project that with just 15 minutes at a time, you can make progress. Also, the smaller project means less weight on your needles so your wrists won’t tire, if that’s a concern. You can knit it flat and seam up or knit in the round. Best of luck!

  7. Greywolf Beanland says:

    Thank you for the next pattern. At the moment I am knitting a dress for her from a pattern that is nearly 30 years old, using a slightly tighter stitch and smaller needles.
    I find that using bamboo circular needles are so light and the knitting can rest on the plastic tube that connects the 2 needles. Bamboo needles are definitely much lighter than metal ones and give less stress on the hands, wrists and arms.
    I hope that this can be of some help to others with and without disabilities.
    Thank you again
    Greywolf

  8. Greywolf Beanland says:

    Forgot to say that the pattern is a King Cole, Pixie, double knitting and 4 ply, to fit sizes 36 – 46cm/14 – 18″ chest, KC536.

  9. Carol Hunterton says:

    Hoping to start a group of knitters within a larger social group to aid preemies. Hope you can help.

  10. Caroline says:

    So thankful I found your site. I’m going to be giving a lot of these patterns a try – in triplicate as my bestie is expecting 3 tiny joybundles! Thank you!

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