Yarn for Baby Hats

How to Choose the Right Yarn for Making Baby Hats

Baby boy wearing wooly hat lying on bed, portrait
Sarah Kastner / STOCK4B / Getty Images

There’s a baby on the way and you know a handmade hat will be the perfect gift. The question is, what’s the best yarn for baby hats? In this article we will look at what yarn and fiber works for knitting and crocheting baby hats.

Important Factors in Yarn for Baby Hats

Softness and washability. These are the two most important factors when selecting yarn for any baby item. A baby’s skin is very sensitive and you want to make sure you’re treating it properly. A parent’s sanity is also precious, so an easy-care machine washable item is the most practical. Besides softness and care, hats have some special requirements of their own.

The best yarn for baby hats will have enough elasticity to hold the hat’s shape and keep it secure on baby’s head. These yarns can be made from a combination of cotton, acrylic, wool, and bamboo, among other fibers. Wool and many acrylics have enough elasticity themselves, so you can use a yarn that’s 100% of either fiber for a hat. Plant fibers, on the other hand, have no natural stretch. A 100% plant fiber yarn is inappropriate for a hat because of its tendency to sag and stretch out of shape soon after it’s worn. This doesn’t mean you can’t get the soft lightness of a cotton in a crocheted baby hat. Look for yarns that are a blend of plant fiber and wool or manmade materials. 

Read the Yarn Label

Before you make a purchase check the fiber content. Yarn labelled "wool" should also say "superwash." If not, put it back. Acrylic? If so, is it soft? The same goes for cotton and other plant fiber blends.
Next look at the care instructions. Put back anything that isn’t machine washable. Machine dryable is up to you. Do you want to be able to dry the item in the dryer? Or are you ok with letting it air dry? Not all machine wash yarns can be machine dried.

What to Avoid

Never use a wool that isn’t superwash. (Superwash wools have been treated to make them machine washable.) Superwash merino is even better. A fine merino wool is so soft that many people don’t even realize it’s wool! Don’t use an acrylic, cotton, or bamboo just because of the fiber content. Make sure the yarn is soft as well as easy-care. Fibers like mohair and alpaca might feel wonderful to your skin, but they can easily irritate a baby and aren’t known for their machine washing properties.
Many well-known manufacturers have yarn lines developed just for for babies. Lion Brand, Red Heart, and Bernat are all good examples. When in doubt, these baby-specific yarns are a safe choice.

Have You Chosen the Right Yarn for Baby Hats?

The last question to ask before purchasing yarn: does it feel good to you? If it doesn’t then put it back. Anything that bothers your skin is sure to irritate baby’s soft skin even more. If you're not sure, do a test by gently rubbing the yarn across your inner wrist and under your neck. These are very sensitive areas, so if the fiber feels good then it’s safe to say you’ve found an appropriate yarn for baby hats.
Suggested Patterns and Further Reading

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