Whether you’re a new knitter or crocheter or an experienced one, sometimes it’s hard to know what is the best yarn for baby hats. I’m sure, like me, you’ve stood in your local yarn store or in the yarn aisle at the craft store overwhelmed with the choices. I hear you! And when it’s a gift for someone else, I always find it even harder to choose the right yarn for baby hats.
Well, you’re in luck, I’m here to help you choose the best yarn for baby hats!
What to consider when choosing yarn for baby hats
- Softness and breathability
- Color choices
Softness and Breathability
The first and most important thing to think about when choosing yarn for baby hats, is what that yarn will feel like for your little one. Babies naturally have very sensitive skin AND many of them are bald. So you want to choose the softest yarns possible.
This is why, if you go down the “baby yarn” aisle, you’ll find that most of the yarn there is super soft or even chenille. Babies have low tolerance for anything itchy.
So, this is where I’m going to say something controversial….skip the wool.
I know!! Many of you serious knitters are not happy that I just said that. I hear you. You believe only high quality yarn is worth knitting with.
Honestly, in many other cases besides baby hats, I could agree with you. Making yourself a shawl? Go for the hand dyed baby merino or cashmere. But, I’ve read lots of articles and lists claiming to know the which yarns are the best yarn for baby hats and there are so many superwash wools suggested. I disagree.
Someone left me a comment once that they “would not waste their time knitting with acrylic yarn” and if they’re going to spend time knitting something, “it had better be worth it.” Which made me pause, roll my eyes, and want to ask, “is this baby hat for YOU, or is it for the baby?”
Correct answer: it’s for the baby.
To that point, I have found, when researching charity knitting, which many of my readers do for babies and cancer patients, many charities will not accept hats made with wool yarn.
Even when we, as adults, think it’s soft, it can still be too scratchy for babies. Their skin, especially on tiny little bald heads, is much much more sensitive than ours. Not only that, some people are actually allergic to wool. And I trust that these charities know what they’re talking about considering that they put thousands and thousands of hats on thousands and thousands of babies.
If you really want to use an animal fiber, stick with alpaca or an alpaca blend, it’s super soft and hypoallergenic (because it has no lanolin).
Acrylic, cotton and bamboo, and blends of those materials, are other great choices for softness and breathability.
Babies spit up. Babies have blow outs. Babies spill things. We all know it, they are messy by nature. So washability is key for all baby things. From handmade baby hats to handmade clothing to handmade toys, if you can’t wash it, don’t bother.
Now this is where you might start telling me, “but I can buy really nice superwash wool!”
Please refer to my previous point about using wool for baby hats.
Furthermore, I find that gifting a handmade item to exhausted new parents with confusing or high maintenance care instructions means it just won’t get worn.
New parents don’t have time for handwashing. I cannot say this enough.
New parents need easy. Read the care instructions on the label and choose a yarn that can, at least, go through the gentle cycle in the washer and dryer.
Do you need to be worried about yarn pilling with repeated washings? Nah. Read my points below in the section about price. Baby hats in particular, shouldn’t be expected to be worn and washed a million times. That’s unlikely to happen.
When choosing the best yarn for baby hats, don’t feel like you HAVE to choose a yarn specifically marketed as a baby yarn. You’ll notice that the “baby yarn” section is basically only pastel colors including light pink, light blue, light yellow, light green and white. If you’re lucky you might find a light lavender. But that’s usually it.
If you want any other colors you’ll have to venture into the rest of the store and that’s ok! As long as you consider the other things I’ve mentioned like softness, breathability and washability, you’ll be fine!
This is the part where I say something else controversial…
I don’t believe you should spend a lot of money knitting or crocheting baby hats.
There I said it.
I mean, you certainly CAN spend as much as you want. I’m not the yarn police. But for baby hats at least, you’ll be lucky if the item gets worn a handful of times, so that’s my personal opinion.
Even in the best case scenario when someone LOVES the baby hat you made, it’s only going to fit for 3 months if you’re lucky. Babies grow so fast. Baby hats are not like baby blankets where they can use it all the way to toddlerhood. So to me, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton.
Will it become a treasured heirloom passed down to the next generation? I know we all hope so! But maybe, maybe not. Even then, the next baby would only wear it for another couple of months. Baby hats just don’t get a ton of wear and tear.
On the other hand, I can’t even count the number of times that someone has told me, “I knit a hat/sweater/booties for my daughter’s/cousin’s/friend’s new baby and they never wear it. I’m so sad/insulted/disappointed!”
Despite our best intentions, once you gift a handmade baby hat you have no control over how much it gets worn.
Sometimes the new parents don’t use the handmade item because they’re scared of ruining it. Other times you may never know why they don’t wear it often. Maybe they got lots of other baby hats. Maybe their baby doesn’t like hats. Many people just don’t understand how much work goes into a handmade item and don’t treasure it the way you hope they will.
If you don’t invest a ton in yarn, you won’t feel badly if the item is only used for a short time, or lost, or dumped in a mud puddle, or chewed up by the cat, or donated or otherwise disappeared.
And let’s be honest, the average Joe can’t tell the difference between fancy expensive yarn and reasonably priced yarn anyway.
The exception to this rule? When you’re making a baby hat for another knitter or crocheter who will appreciate it. Then, by all means, go all out!
My favorite super soft, washable, colorful, and reasonably priced yarns are:
I usually look for either acrylic, cotton, bamboo or alpaca yarns for making baby hats. Blends of any of those materials will work as well. Make sure to read the care instructions before you decide. If you’d like specific recommendations, here’s what I love, but, of course, you can make your own selections too!
Vanna’s Choice – this is my #1 most used yard for baby hats, it’s soft, it comes in a TON of colors and it’s reasonably priced and easy to care for. It’s the perfect storm.
Bernat Softee– This is a nice “soft” yarn that comes in lots of colors
Caron Simply Soft – Just like Bernat Softee, this line has lots of colors beyond baby pastels
Lion Brand Baby Soft – If you are looking for typical baby colors, this is a lovely soft yarn
Red Heart Soft – A great value and nice and soft
Loops & Threads Impeccable – so many great colors and it’s always either on sale or you can use a coupon!
Touch of Alpaca – If I could knit only with alpaca I would, but that’s not always reasonable. This is a nice choice for baby hats though!
CoBoo Cotton/Bamboo Blend – sometimes 100% cotton can be a little stiff for baby hats and 100% bamboo can be a little slippery. This is a great blend with easy care instructions!
Paintbox Yarns Baby DK – so many pretty colors!
What kind of yarn should I avoid for baby hats?
I’m glad you asked! When choosing the best yarn for baby hats I would avoid:
- Novelty yarns with glitter or sequins or anything that would be scratchy or a choking hazard
- Bulky or chunky yarns, which will make a hat that is too warm for small babies
- Eyelash or other yarns that might shed and create a choking hazard for babies
- Lace weight yarn can be a good idea to avoid for small babies simply because young babies can get fingers stuck in the holes in lacey patterns. This is another tip I picked up from baby hat charities.
- Any yarn you don’t like. Despite all of my advice above, if you really hate a particular type of yarn, don’t use it. Keep looking until you find one that you do like.
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