Knitting Newborn Hats for Hospitals


I love to find quick little knitting projects that I can do in an evening.  I previously shared my Favorite Knit Dishcloth Pattern which has received lots of positive comments, so I thought I would share another of my favorite fast and easy knitting patterns that can be completed in a couple hours.

Free knitting pattern for newborn baby hats

A needlecraft store near my home (Country Needleworks for any of my local readers near Hudsonville, Michigan) has different service projects listed on their website that knitters can help with.  I decided I could help by knitting some newborn hats that are used by the maternity ward of our local hospital.  But their website did not include any pattern, and after doing some internet searching and not being quite happy with anything I found, I sort of mixed and matched ideas and came up with my own pattern.

vintage knit baby hats

My starting point for this pattern, believe it or not, was the baby hats my own two kids came home with from the hospital over 20 years ago.  I’m not usually one for keeping too many trinkets as keepsakes, but I did keep those two precious little newborn baby hats all these years.  I guess being a knitter made me extra sentimental about them.  I laid my first few tries of this pattern over these hats to make sure the pattern I came up with was going to result in hats that were turning out the same size as the vintage ones.

These can be knit in solid colors, or with variegated yarn, or you can jazz them up with some stripes too.  I also make a pom pom for the top using a pom pom maker purchased from the craft store.


Free knitting pattern for newborn baby hats

Print This Pattern

Size 6 Needles
Worsted Weight Yarn  (I like to use a soft yarn like Bernat Satin Yarn)

Gauge:  4.5 stitches per inch (or 2 stitches per centimeter)

Cast on 48 stitches

Work in Knit 1, Purl 1 ribbing for 1″  (about 6 rows)

Knit in Stockinette Stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) for 3″ inches. End with a purl row.  Piece will now measure 4″ from the beginning.
Begin Decrease for top of hat:
Next Row:  Knit 2 together across row (24 stitches)
Next Row:  Purl across
Next Row:  Knit 2 together across row (12 stitches)
Next Row:  Purl across
Next Row:  Knit 2 together across row (6 stitches)

Cut yarn, leaving a long tail for sewing up seam.  Thread the tail of yarn through a large eye needle and then pull through the stitches to remove them from the needle.   Pull stitches tight to gather. Sew seam down side of hat with remaining yarn.  Make pom pom and fasten to top of hat.

Last winter I made up a bunch of these, hoping they were in fact the right size for a newborn head.  It turned out one of my coworkers is a knitter too, so I shared my pattern with her. When her new grandbaby came along last year, she tried our hats on him and she said they fit perfectly!  Yay!

Free knitting pattern for newborn baby hats

Even if you don’t have a local charity to donate these to, this pattern is handy to have for adding a little homemade touch to a baby gift.


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    Feel free to comment or share your bright idea!

  1. says

    Hey Beverly! Those little hats are precious! I cracked up at the term “vintage hats” from 1986-87! Boy that makes me feel OLD! To me, vintage is 50's and 60's! LOL! They are adorable!

    God Bless!

  2. says

    Hi Bev,
    I've been following you for a while now and I love your blog! I too feel like why should you pay good money for things when if it's worth it to make it at home! I love your blog so much that I have featured you twice the second time was today with this pattern I gave it a try and as a novice knitter I found it easy to follow but also looked soooo good! Thank you for posting this pattern and I hope you post more knitting soon! If you would like to have a look at my hat come over and visit me!

  3. says

    These hats are adorable! I've been looking for a simple newborn hat pattern like this one for such a long time; all the other patterns I found were too fancy, with animal ears or flowers or bows. Not that those aren't cute, too, but this pattern is classic. I'm going to start knitting right away! Thank you!

  4. says

    Hi Artikaur – I'm assuming if you want to use circular needles you might be hoping to make one continuous piece with no seam. This might work, however, I think when you get to the decreases at the top, it might be hard with such a few stitches on the circular needle. Perhaps you could not do as many decrease rows (just knit them straight instead) and simply gather more stitches at the end. I think that would probably work. Hope that helps!

    • Linda says

      One learns by mistakes. I thought I would outsmart the straight needle method and knit the infant baby hat on a small circular needle but when I got to the decreasing part I was stuck. I had to switch to four needles to finish. Two needles is better.

  5. says

    Hi Joanne – Yes, my size 6 needles are American. The conversion to metric would be 4mm (or UK/Canadian size 8). My gauge on the finished piece is 4.5 stitches per inch, or 2 stitches per centimeter.

  6. Joanne says

    Thanks Bev. They seems to have turned out right for me and are a great way to use up all my little ends of wool. Thanks for the pattern. Joanne

  7. Anonymous says

    I use dp needles to make decreases at the top.
    Suggestion: I would include the gauge in the pattern.

  8. says

    Good suggestion – Gauge has now been included in the pattern. I had included it in a comment but it is now part of the pattern too :)

  9. Anonymous says

    Hi Bev,

    I noticed you didn't mention using a loom to make newborn hats. Is it possible to knit one without using a loom?

  10. says

    The finished size of the knitted newborn hats are pretty tiny. I have never used a loom to make hats, but I would wonder if there is a small enough loom to create a newborn hat. If there is a very small loom, then I think it would work. If the loom is too large you would end up with a hat that was too wide for a newborn head. Newborn hats are only about 5″ across when laying flat (about a 10″ circumference).

  11. Anonymous says

    Bev, thank you for responding and explaining. I look forward to making one one day soon! I really enjoy your blogs.

    Thank you!

  12. Anonymous says

    Hello! I just made my first hat (well, my first knit project ever)for my soon to be born son and the hat looks great (such an easy pattern to follow!!), but the pom-pom is a bit rough (all my fault!). :-) Any tips on how to make one??

  13. says

    I always use a pom pom maker gadget so that my pom poms turn out a little better looking. You should be able to find one at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michaels (or there is link up in my post above too). Make sure you wind the yarn around enough times to create a fairly bushy pom pom. Once you take it off the pom pom maker, you can trim it a little bit more too so there aren't pieces sticking out. I try not to be too obessive about that part because you can trim forever trying to get a perfectly round pom pom :)

    Hope that helps a little bit. Even though you can also make pom poms by just winding yarn around a piece of cardboard, I think my pom poms turned out better once I started using the store bought pom pom makers (and especially because these hats need a pretty small pom pom).

  14. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much!! I live in the UK, so I'll have to see if I can order one online. I'm working on my second hat today and plan on doing another one (they are such a great starter project!). Also, I *love* your website! Thanks for the tips!

  15. Anonymous says

    I don't know if I have size 6 needles. I think I have size 3 or bigger. How would that make the pattern or hat turn out differently?


  16. says

    Hi April,

    Switching to a different size needle is where the gauge in the original directions becomes important. My gauge was 4.5 stitches per inch and I cast on 48 stitches. This means my piece was about 10.5″ wide. (48 divided by 4.5). So your goal with different sized needles would be to still knit a hat that is about 10.5″ wide.

    Knit a small swatch with your size needles and yarn and see how many stitches per inch you are getting. Let's say you are using smaller needles and are getting 6 stitches per inch. You would multiply 6 times 10.5 inches which gives you 63. Round that up to an even number (64) and that is how many stitches you would cast on. You want an even number of stitches so your decrease rows at the top of the hat are easier.

    So to sum that up:
    1. Knit yourself a sample swatch
    2. Find out how many stitches you have per inch
    3. Multiply that by 10.5
    4. Round that up to an even number.
    That number is how many stitches you will cast on.

    Isn't math fun? :-) Hope that helps!

  17. says

    I'm sorry to say that I don't have a crochet pattern for this newborn hat. I used to crochet a little bit but it was never as easy for me as knitting was and I finally gave up and just stuck with knitting.

    However you could crochet a small sample swatch to figure out how many stitches were in an inch. You would then multiply that by 10.5 to find how many single crochets you would need in a row to make a 10.5″ wide hat. To make the decrease rows at the top you could maybe single crochet in every other stitch across a row.

    That's about the best crochet advice a knitter like me can come up with :-)

  18. says

    Thanks for sharing this pattern. My second grandson is due Christmas Eve, and I was looking for a simple cap for him to wear. I'm new to knitting, so this is just what I was looking for. I'm already on my second one! Debbie

  19. says

    This hat is wonderful. I came across this pattern as my daughter is in labor with another little love(her 2nd baby my 3rd grandbaby) So I am knitting it as she is in labor now. 😀

  20. says

    THANK YOU I have been searching for months for a pattern that would be easy for beginning knitters. We have an organization in Kentucky called Frontier Nurses that works in rural areas of Eastern Kentucky. They were asking for donations of handmade baby hats. This would be a great first project for some 4-H'ers who are beginning to knit and it would benefit a good cause.

  21. says

    Hi Bev -i've been reading here for a while, but somehow had never seen this post. I've been doing hats for preemies for a while now. They are tiny but knit up quick. I use double points and knit in the round, but i recently learned how to use 2 same-sized circular needles to knit in the round. This way you don't have to worry about the whole hat fitting on a circular needles. Enjoy your site, as always. :)

  22. says

    No, you do not necessarily have to top it with a pom pom. It just adds a little something extra. I'm sure a little flower would look cute too :-) That's whats fun about making things yourself. You can be creative and add your own special touches.

  23. says

    Just made one of your hats for my niece who is due to arrive on Tuesday! It turned out so adorable – thanks! My question is, can you tell me how to adjust the pattern to make it fit an 18 month old? I really wanted to make one for my daughter too. Thank you!!

  24. says

    Jennifer – so glad the hat for your neice turned out :)

    To adjust for a larger size, I would measure around your older child's head to get the total circumference. (let's say it's 18″) If you are getting 4.5 stitches per inch like my gauge is, you would then multiply 4.5 x 18. This comes out to about 80 stitches for an 18″ circumference hat. However you might want the hat to be a little smaller than an 18″ circumference to allow for some stretchiness so it is tight enough fitting. You might also have to add an extra inch or so before you start the decrease rows. The decrease rows could be done the same way, knitting two together across the rows alternating with a purl row.

    So increase the number of stitches you cast on (probably to something between 70 to 80 stitches). Make sure you cast on an even number of stitches. Then add an inch or so to the length (maybe to 6″ inches from the beginning), then do the decrease rows the same way.

    That's my best guess :-) It will take a little trial and error but that is how you would begin the process. Hope that helps!

  25. Tolsa Greenberg says

    I make a similar pattern that I found on the Save the Children webpage. It uses a size 8 and size 6 needle, the band is 1 1/2 inches and the shaping starts after 3 inches of stocking stitch knitting. It can be made with a sport or worsted yarn and I always used a bernat yarn. I want to make them for a friend's new twin grandchildren coming soon. I will try your pattern soon to donate to the local hospital preemie unit.
    Tolsa Greenberg

  26. says

    my mom use to work at country needleworks!!! its where i learned to sew, knit and do needle point!!!! still one of my favorite places to go!!!!

  27. Trish says

    Thank you for this! I had been searching the net and having the same problem you describe – nothing was quite what I wanted. THIS is what I wanted. I’m teaching my daughter how to knit hats for the hospital and this is nice and simple for her :)


    Thanks so much for sharing, Im fairly new to knitting and find it so hard to find patterns that are simple to follow. Thanks again x

  29. Skywise says

    Thanks for this pattern. One of my friends is due to have her baby in 3 weeks and, although she loves hand knits, she doesn;t want anything “fussy”. This little hat is perfect for her and knits up so quickly – I’m making loads in all different colours to match the cardigans I’ve already made. Thanks for sharing this :)

  30. Lisa says

    im expecting my second baby and was gutted when i couldnt keep the first hat my son wore as it was hospital property so am looking up on how to make my own to take with me. im not an experienced knitter at all, only knitted squares or rectangles, if there any way i can learn to make these as i dont understand your instructions. thanks

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      That’s a bummer that your hospital doesn’t let you keep the hats :( This pattern is pretty easy for beginners. The basics that you need to know for this pattern are how to cast on (put stitches on your needle so you can get started), know how to purl (so you can do the ribbing which is knit one stitch, and then purl one stitch and keep doing that all the way across a row), and you need to know how to decrease (make fewer stitches on your needle) by knitting two stitches together at a time. If you can do those things, you can knit these hats. Perhaps you could watch some YouTube videos to help you learn “How to do Ribbing” and “How to Decrease” and then start making your hats!

  31. Sabrina says

    Thank-you for posting this pattern. I’m so happy with my hat…now I just have to wait to try it on my baby girl when she arrives! Do you have a similar pattern for baby Booties?

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      It’s been many years since I knitted booties but I know I have some patterns somewhere! I’ll look them up again :)

  32. Marylyn says

    Thanks so much for this pattern – it’s just what I was hoping to find! I am getting ready to knit one (or more) of these hats for my newest grandchild (due in April). I’d like to use DK yarn instead of worsted. How should I adjust the pattern to use DK yarn so the hat is the right size?

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      Marilyn –
      You will want to knit yourself a sample swatch with the DK yarn to see how many stitches you are getting per inch. These hats are about 10.5″ wide (when laying flat before the final seam is sewn). This means you’ll have to find out how many stitches you have per inch and then multiply it by 10.5 to get the total number of stitches to cast on, remembering that you want to cast on an even number of stitches.

      For instance, let’s say you are getting 6 stitches per inch with the DK yarn. You’ll want to multiply that by 10.5 which would give you 63 stitches. You would then round that up to 64 to have an even number and cast on that number of stitches. From there you should be able to follow the pattern along with a few minor adjustments.

      • Marylyn says

        Wonderful! Thanks so much for the help – I’ll get started right away on my hats with confidence they will turn out just right using the DK yarn!

  33. Lesley Mills says

    I have just made this hat and I am so pleased with it. I was given some pale blue shiny wool (no idea what type it is) but thought I would just try this out as it seemed a nice simple pattern to try. I used 3.75mm needles and it has turned out great. Small but fairly stretchy. Thank you I will be making this again.

  34. Lesley Mills says

    Yes we have just started a Knitting and prayer group at our church to make gifts for people in need. Shawls, baby clothes etc so this will be included. Thank you once again

  35. Beverley Dunsmore says

    I just knitted this pattern in pure white and i love it. I used size 4.5mm neddles and it is rather but very streatchy.thank you so much for sharingthis patter

  36. Robyn Harrower says

    Thank you so much for the beanie patterns. My new grandson arrives in 9 weeks and winter is just a few weeks away in Australia. I also have twins due around the same time. I have knitted beanies for premmie babies for many years until I was diagnosed with early stages of MS. I desperately wanted to do a shawl for the new baby ( 4 years work) and he will need beanies as well. Thanks again for sharing your pattern as my pattern book was borrowed and not returned. Regards Robyn

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      To make this hat for an adult you will have to do a little math. You will need to know the circumference of an adult head and how many stitches per inch you are knitting (do a small sample swatch with the yarn you want to use to figure that out). Now let’s say for instance that the head circumference is 22 inches and you are getting 3 stitches per inch. You would multiply those numbers to get the number of stitches to cast on (in this example you would cast on 66 stitches). You could follow the pattern from there, doing the decrease rows at the end in the same type of way. I have never tried making this for an adult, but that would be the method you would use to give it a try. Just make sure you cast on an even number of stitches. Hope that helps!

  37. Jasmine says

    This is a great pattern! Do you know how many more stitches to cast on for a size bigger? Like maybe for around 6 months? Thanks!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      To make this hat a little bigger, you are probably going to want to add an inch or two to the size of the final finished hat. My gauge with this pattern was 4.5 stitches per inch. So to add a couple more inches, you would want to cast on about 8 or 10 more stitches (because you need an even number). The decreases at the top would still work in the same way (knitting 2 together across the row).

  38. Brandy says

    I made this hat for my own son while I was pregnant with him. I used the bernat satin white and it turned out so beautiful!! I like to use the smallest loom to loom hats for newborn babies in the hospital, as I can make many more of them with the loom in the amt of time it takes to loom up this hat, but for those special gifts for friends, I will always use this pattern. It’s very special!! :-) thanks for sharing!!

  39. Mimi says

    I made this hat on US size 6 straight needles using worsted weight yarn casting on EXACTLY 48 stitches and the hat came out way too small! It even looks too narrow to be used as a premie!
    I evenly counted the number of stitches BEFORE I even started to knit because I always like to make sure that I’m doing a project right !
    I was going to make this for my church’s group called caring hands! I was very disappointed since the actual pattern itself was beautiful. If I did do this correctly , then it needs to be adjusted .

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      Sorry your first try at this pattern didn’t go so well! This is probably a matter of gauge with you getting more stitches to the inch. I will copy and paste in here my reply to a comment above about how to adjust for gauge:

      “Knit a small swatch and see how many stitches per inch you are getting. Let’s say you are getting 6 stitches per inch. You would multiply 6 times 10.5 inches (the width of the hat) which gives you 63. Round that up to an even number (64) and that is how many stitches you would cast on. You want an even number of stitches so your decrease rows at the top of the hat are easier.

      So to sum that up:
      1. Knit yourself a sample swatch
      2. Find out how many stitches you have per inch
      3. Multiply that by 10.5
      4. Round that up to an even number.
      That number is how many stitches you will cast on.”

      • Mimi says

        Thank – you Beverly so much for responding back ! I did do a swatch and I was doing 6 stitches per inch . You were right my stitching was very tight and I definitely am going to do that hat pattern again – since it’s so beautiful and easy to do !
        I have a few questions . When it says in the directions , ” Piece will measure 4″ inches from the begining will my piece still be measuring 4″ even though my stitches will be more?
        Do you happen to know what yarn brand was used for the blue hat with specks of light brown in it ?
        Thank – You so much for your patience and time !!

        • BeverlyBeverly says

          Glad a sample swatch helped you with the guage issue. Here’s the answers to your additional questions: (I’m always happy to answer questions :)

          1. Yes, you will still want to knit until it is 4″ from the beginning. To knit until you have a certain measurement gives you the control of how many rows you need to knit to get to the correct length.

          2. The blue yarn with the flecks of colors in it was a yarn I bought at Hobby Lobby that I believe they don’t carry anymore. I think it was called “Little Britches” or something like that. The last time I looked I couldn’t find it. Sometimes though they end up replacing a discontinued item with something similar. It’s always frustrating when manufacturers stop making something you like!

  40. says

    I Knit new born baby hats and donate them to hospitals as my husband and I travel around this country. I use a pattern not seen here, Knit 2, Purl 2 until decreasing. I also have a crochet pattern I would be glad to share. (Hospitals I have dealt with ask that we not use pom poms.)

  41. Jan says

    Our local hospital is starting a maternity unit. I had thought it would be nice to knit some newborn caps as an opening gift. At the end odf checking my e-mails I decided to check the internet for a pattern. At first I was just going to check back on the site later but noticed the one for you that specified for hospital newborn caps. Glad I decided to check. My printer is not working so I copied it by hand. Am looking forward to making them. Will let you know how they turn out and how they are accepted.
    In Christian Love
    A fellow kniter, Jan

  42. Jan says

    Beverly, This may be a repeat but wasn’t sure if my “post comment” went through. Was glad I checked for a newborn cap knit pattern on internet. Our local hospital is going to be opening a maternity unit. I thought it would be nice to donate some caps as a opening gift donation. They’ll look a lot cuter than the tube ones they used years ago.

  43. Linnet says

    Thank you for your pattern! Casting on 48 stitches is the best sized pattern I’ve seen so far. Hospitals in my area are asking for purple hats to hand out in November to spread awareness of the period of crying babies can go through.

  44. Tina says

    I’m fairly new to knitting and made this toque for a friends newborn. A friend of hers would like me to knit one for her 2 year old son. Could you please let me know how many stitches you would use and what size needles? Thank you!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      There’s a comment up above where I gave a little more thorough explanation of the math on this same type of question, but you will probably want to cast on between 70 and 80 stitches (make sure you cast on an even number), and you will probably want to knit a few more rows too before starting the decrease rows (maybe knit to about 6″ before decreasing).

  45. Elizabeth Heoburn says

    many thanks for sharing this pattern. I intend making these for the hospital where my grand daughters were born. Your pattern will now be worn by little babies “across the pond” in Glasgow, Scotland .

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      Oh that warms my heart to think of little ones over in Scotland wearing these cute little hats too. Thanks so much for your comment!

  46. Barbara says

    I have been knitting baby hats for my local hospital ever since I lost a grandson, 12 yrs ago. Also my 2 granddaughters were both preemies. The preemies have a hard time holding their temperatures up, and they really need baby hats to be able to survive. I love your pattern and have made 6 of them in the last 2 days. I will continue to use your pattern for the babies. Thank you so very much for this pattern. God Bless you.

  47. Robyn Harrower says

    Hi, I have printed the pattern for the newborn hats. I used to knit for the tiny babies in the major hospitals in Sydney. I done this for over 20 years. I intend donating these hats to my local hospital. They are always so grateful to receive anything. My grandson had a purple hat with a big pom pom when he was born. Thank you for the patterns.

  48. Barbara says

    I used your pattern with circular needle and magic loop knitting. Knitted this way there is no side seam to sew up. Loving the hats.

  49. Priss says

    I enjoyed this pattern, it’s pretty mindless and you don’t have to think as much when doing it.
    I use 4 size 6dpns and divided them amongst 3 needles. 16 in each needle, and instead of purling in just keep knitting after the ribbing part.

  50. Jess K. says

    Hi! I may be starting a crochet/knitting group to make baby hats for the hospital(s) in my area. Would it be ok for me to make a handful of copies of this pattern for my group to use?