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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I am currently awaiting the imminent arrival of my 3rd little monkey, a baby boy due 12/28/16. I may be slow at responding to messages and greatly appreciate your patience during this time of transition. I’m not disappearing, but I may not be able to help you as quickly as you need it. – Rebecca 🙂

The 12 Days of Christmas NICU Hat Challenge: Olivia’s Preemie Hat

12 Days of Christmas NICU Hat Challenge: Olivia's Preemie Crochet Hat Pattern

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This is my first year participating in the 12 Days of Christmas NICU Hat Challenge, and I am so honored to be a part of such an awesome and inspiring project! The challenge for the designers was to come up with a preemie hat pattern that relied on texture or color change for originality. (NICU babies, and hospital babies in general, are not allowed to have any kind of embellishment on their hats due to the potential for choking).

(By the way, if you want to join this awesome challenge starting November 20, 2014, either follow me on Facebook or sign up for my email list (under the main menu). When the challenge begins, you’ll know about it!)

As I started thinking about how to make my hat, I did quite a bit of reading on NICU hats. I learned that NICU wards go through hats like crazy. In an environment where even the mildest germs can make a tiny newborn take a turn for the worse, any hat that falls off a baby’s head and onto the floor cannot be put back on. So one little baby can go through multiple hats in a day. Doesn’t that put it in perspective for you? It does for me! NICU wards need these donations.

Another thing to keep in mind as you get ready to make preemie hats is that your yarn needs to be super soft. This isn’t the time to use Super Saver yarn. I made my hats with Bernat Satin, which is comparable in weight and feel to Caron Simply Soft. (Actually, the coral hat in the photos is Simply Soft.) I prefer Bernat Satin, but they both worked well for this project.

I found a chart online that showed the different hat sizes needed for the various weights of premature babies. I was only going to choose one to make a pattern for, but it went so quick that I decided to go ahead and make up all 4 sizes. So, below you’ll find patterns for 1-2 lbs, 2-3.5 lbs, 3.5-5 lbs, and 5-6 lbs.

12 Days of Christmas NICU Hat Challenge: Olivia's Preemie Crochet Hat Pattern | Little Monkeys Crochet

12 Days of Christmas NICU Hat Challenge: Olivia's Preemie Crochet Hat Pattern | Little Monkeys CrochetI named my pattern after my niece, Olivia, who spent a few days in the NICU herself due to water on her lungs, low oxygen levels, anemia, and a few other issues. (That’s her in the photo, modeling a big-girl version of this pattern.) I remember visiting the day after she was born and seeing the exhaustion and fear in my sister’s eyes. Olivia wasn’t in a life-threatening situation, but even that (relatively) short stay in NICU was enough to completely overwhelm that new mommy, who had a husband in the middle of nursing school finals and a toddler son who needed her at home. It made me realize that every single family in the NICU has a story; from the babies who only stay a few days, to the tiniest newborns who fight for their lives for months or more, each new mommy and daddy goes through an emotional struggle that I know cannot even be imagined by those of us who have not experienced it.

I hope that every single hat that is made during this challenge will be a small blessing to the family whose little one wears it. (Even if it’s only for 5 minutes before it falls on the floor!)

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Quick note: One of my wonderful readers mentioned that her local hospital does not use homemade hats on the smallest babies. It’s probably a good idea to contact the hospital you’re going to donate to, and find out if they have any special policies as well!

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Pattern Permissions

This is a FREE pattern, and by using it, you're agreeing to the following legally-protected conditions. You're welcome to sell what you make with it; for online listings, please link back to my blog using something like this:

Pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet littlemonkeyscrochet.com
Here are the “do nots”:
  • Do not resell the pattern, altered or in its original form.
  • Do not copy and paste the pattern onto your own blog, in a Facebook group, or anywhere else. Simply link to this page instead. Anything beyond this is copyright theft, regardless of what your pattern-sharing buddies tell you. 🙂
  • Do not pull any of my photos from this site (or any of my other sites) for your own use. The exception to this is if you want to share my article link(s) on your own blog; in this case, you are welcome to take one photo per post for use on your site as long as it is accompanied by a direct link back to my post.

A NOTE ABOUT PRINTING: My patterns no longer show up when accessed via PrintFriendly.com. (This is out of my control; please see my FAQs for more info.) If you wish to print this pattern (for personal use only), you can copy & paste it into a text editing document, or purchase the inexpensive PDF (see pattern info, below).

So without further ado, here are my patterns:

Olivia's Preemie Hat

Skill Level: Easy
Finished Sizes: Listed on individual patterns
Gauge The first 3 rounds of the sizes worked with an H hook should measure 2.5” across. The first 3 rounds of the sizes worked with an I hook should measure 2.75” across.
Stitches Used Magic Circle, SC, HDC, DC, Sl St
Yarn <1oz (per hat) of your favorite soft worsted weight yarn. (I used Bernat Satin and Caron Simply Soft.)
Hooks Sizes H (5.0mm) or I (5.50mm) depending on which size you are making.
Notions Yarn needle and stitch marker

Notes
Pattern is written in American standard terms.
Pattern is worked in a seamless round. Use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of each row.

- - - - - - -

Size 1-2 lbs

(4” width when laid flat)

Hook Size: H (5.0mm)

Begin with a Magic Circle.
Row 1: Ch1. 10 HDC in Magic Circle. (10)
Row 2: 2 HDC in each St around. (20)
Row 3: (2 HDC in next St, HDC in next) around. (30)
Row 4: Sk 1st St. (SC+DC) in next. Place your stitch marker in the SC to mark beginning of the row. (Sk next St; SC+DC in next) around, 13 times. Leave the last St empty.
Row 5: (SC+DC in next St, Sk next St) around.
Rows 6-8: Repeat Row 5.
Rows 9-11: SC around.

Slip stitch into the first stitch of the previous row, fasten off and weave in ends.

- - - - - - -

Size 2-3.5 lbs

(4.5” width when laid flat)

Hook Size: I (5.5mm)

**Follow instructions for Size 1-2 lbs pattern, using an I hook instead of an H hook.**

- - - - - - -

 

Size 3.5-5 lbs

(5” width when laid flat)

Hook Size: H (5.0mm)

Begin with a Magic Circle.
Row 1: Ch1. 10 HDC in Magic Circle. (10)
Row 2: 2 HDC in each St around. (20)
Row 3: (2 HDC in next St, HDC in next) around. (30)
Row 4: (2 HDC in next St, HDC in next 5 Sts) around. (35)
Row 5: Sk 1st St. (SC+DC in next St, Sk next St) around.
Row 6: (SC+DC in next St, Sk next St) around.
Rows 7-9: Repeat Row 6.
Rows 10-12: SC around.

Slip stitch into the first stitch of the previous row, fasten off and weave in ends.

- - - - - - -

Size 5-6 lbs

(5.5” width when laid flat)

Hook Size: I (5.5mm)

Begin with a Magic Circle.
Row 1: Ch1. 10 HDC in Magic Circle. (10)
Row 2: 2 HDC in each St around. (20)
Row 3: (2 HDC in next St, HDC in next) around. (30)
Row 4: (2 HDC in next St, HDC in next 2 Sts) around. (40)
Row 5: Sk 1st St. (SC+DC) in next. Place your stitch marker in the SC to mark beginning of the row. (Sk next St; SC+DC in next) around, 19 times. Leave the last St empty.
Row 6: (SC+DC in next St; Sk next St) around.
Rows 7-9: Repeat Row 6.
Rows 10-13: SC around. 

Slip stitch into the first stitch of the previous row, fasten off and weave in ends.

Pattern Permissions

This is a FREE pattern, and by using it, you’re agreeing to the following legally-protected conditions.

You’re welcome to sell what you make with it; for online listings, please link back to my blog using something like this:

Pattern by
Little Monkeys Crochet
littlemonkeyscrochet.com

Here are the “do nots”:

  • Do not resell the pattern, altered or in its original form.
  • Do not copy and paste the pattern onto your own blog, in a Facebook group, or anywhere else. Simply link to this page instead. Anything beyond this is copyright theft. You are welcome to copy/paste it into a document for printing, for personal use only.
  • Do not pull any of my photos from this site (or any of my other sites) to promote yourself or your crochet business on your own blog, Facebook page, or anywhere else. The exception to this is if you want to share my article link(s) on your own blog; in this case, you are welcome to take one photo per post for use on your site as long as it is accompanied by a direct link back to my post and does not include any portion of the pattern itself.
  • Do not post a translation of the pattern anywhere – this is copyright theft. If you would like to help make a translation available, I am happy to publish it on my blog with a link to your blog or Crochet-related Facebook page.
  • Do not make a video tutorial of this pattern (or any of my patterns). For a detailed explanation of why this hurts designers, please contact me.

Leave a Comment

I welcome all comments and questions as long as they are spoken with kindness, and I will always try to extend the same respect to you with my replies. If I feel your comment is inappropriate or unnecessarily hurtful, it may be deleted at my discretion.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I am currently awaiting the imminent arrival of my 3rd little monkey, a baby boy due 12/28/16. I may be slow at responding to messages and greatly appreciate your patience during this time of transition. I’m not disappearing, but I may not be able to help you as quickly as you need it. – Rebecca 🙂

{ 65 comments… add one }
  • Ericka November 6, 2014, 7:58 am

    Rebecca, this pattern is ADORABLE!!!!!!

    Do you know if NICU’s have any specifications for hats – meaning types of yarn? Can they be made in a home with pets, etc?

    Thank you so much!!!
    Ericka

    • Rebecca November 6, 2014, 9:36 am

      Thank you Ericka!

      I think the safest way to determine specifications is to call the hospital you’re planning to donate to. In general, though, softer is better. 🙂

    • Alexandra November 6, 2014, 10:45 am

      I donate to my local baby and children’s hospitals, but have also done a lot of research outside of the guidelines they provided for me. Here’s what I’ve gathered: soft acrylic yarn, weave your ends in in a zip zag motion to better help them from coming out, must be able to withstand being washed a million times, NOT yellow since it can make the baby look like they have jaundice, and embellishments must be sewn on NOT hot glued (although I like to add a touch of hot glue around my button after sewing it on for added security). Hope this helps!

      • Rebecca November 10, 2014, 11:06 am

        Thank you, Alexandra!

    • Beth McC November 7, 2014, 8:50 pm

      When I crochet items as gifts or donations, I always launder them and promptly seal them in zippered plastic bags to prevent any cat hair, etc from contaminating them. I have a feeling the hospitals will want to wash them anyway, or the parents might. Adorable pattern! A few years ago, I crocheted preemie caps for a friend of the family, whose baby was born in mid-August instead of at Thanksgiving! I even crocheted her a mini-pumpkin cap and the nurses photographed her in it. I like to crochet a tiny preemie blanket for use when the parents “kangaroo” the infant, for skin-to-skin contact. Soft crochet seems nicer than the thin hospital blankets.

      • Rebecca November 10, 2014, 11:07 am

        Beth, that’s a great idea about the bags.

  • Maree Kilkelly November 6, 2014, 8:12 am

    Can’t believe these have come up now , I’ve been looking for some beanies like these.

    • Rebecca November 6, 2014, 9:35 am

      Yay for perfect timing! 🙂

  • Pamla Baker November 6, 2014, 8:28 am

    Thank you for the adorable “Preemie” Hat Pattern. As one who had Preemie’s – I am particularly partial to these little ones. Going to make some with my extra yarn for the Medical Center’s NICU (Neo-Natal ICU)
    Thanks!!

    • Rebecca November 6, 2014, 9:35 am

      You’re welcome! I’m sure they’ll be happy to receive them 🙂

  • Jamie Daniel November 6, 2014, 9:10 am

    My granddaughter was born one year ago today 🙂 at one pound 9 ounces. She is doing just fine, thank you. I have made a shopping bag full of beanies for the NICU where she was born. They cannot use the home made beanies on the babies in the NICU. Each baby is given one when they go home. Your readers should check with their local hospitals for the policy. Otherwise the smallest beanies may go un-used.

    • Rebecca November 6, 2014, 9:34 am

      Thank you, Jamie! I’ve added a few sentences before the pattern with this information, encouraging crocheters to check with their local hospitals. Thanks for the insight! I’m so glad your granddaughter is doing fine. 🙂

  • Terry November 6, 2014, 10:25 am

    Rebecca, thank you for the preemie pattern! I’m going to see if I can get a group together to make some of these for some of our local hospitals!

    • Rebecca November 10, 2014, 11:03 am

      That would be awesome!

  • Alexandra November 6, 2014, 10:47 am

    This is FANTASTIC! I have recently started donating baby hats to my local baby and children’s hospital and this will help me out a lot! Although, most places I’ve contacted have said that full term baby hats are in more demand.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Rebecca November 10, 2014, 11:03 am

      No problem! I think it just depends on the hospital, and the level of care they have for the extremely premature ones. 🙂

  • Renee Lewis Hale November 6, 2014, 9:44 pm

    I’ve joined a group that uses donated wedding gowns and prom dresses to make gowns for still-born babies and babies who only live a few days. This allows the families to see their baby in a beautiful gown and to have something in which to bury the baby. There may be a similar group in your area and they may be able to use crocheted hats. On facebook, look at The Littlest Angels from Guthrie, OK.

    My grandsons were in the NICU, one for a week and the other for 2 weeks. My daughter is expecting another set of twins. I’m making several hats for them in case they’re born small.

    • Rebecca November 10, 2014, 11:04 am

      Those are wonderful ways to get involved!

  • Sara November 8, 2014, 10:48 am

    My daughter was born six weeks early and spent exactly one month in our local NICU. Ever since we left I’ve been making hats to donate to them. To those that wonder, definitely use a baby weight yarn and regardless of pets in the home or press’s hong, they’ll immediately throw them into the washing when they get them. I also don’t know about all NICUs but ours had a serious lack of micro-preemie hats so I recommend that if you really want to to make up a few of the 1-2 lb hat size. They’ll appreciate it and along with the falling on the floor scenario described above, parents like to be able to take little moments home, like their tony babies hat, and if there are plenty of the littlest hats the NICU won’t suffer for letting them take them home. Just my opinion as a recent-ish NICU mommy.

    • Rebecca November 10, 2014, 11:05 am

      Thank you, Sara!

  • Marti November 8, 2014, 2:38 pm

    Thanks so much for this pattern! I donate to hospitals and needed something new:)
    I’m a photographer with NILMDTS where we offer photography for families who suffer the loss of their babies.. I like to have hats with me in case they don’t have any or the hospital doesn’t have a good size. The parents can keep it if they wish, so THANK YOU for sharing!

    • Rebecca November 10, 2014, 11:06 am

      God bless you for the incredible work that you do. NILMDTS is one of the most incredible organizations I have ever come across.

  • Lois November 20, 2014, 2:26 pm

    can one sign up for this even if you know there is no way you can finish by your date? My daughter sent your website to me knowing that I have started to knit/crochet hats for my local hospital.

    • Rebecca November 29, 2014, 2:23 pm

      Sure! Just do your best 🙂

  • Bev Charman November 20, 2014, 11:14 pm

    Thanks for this opportunity… I love the pattern and will find a place to donate the hats that i get done… Hopefully a hospital in the area will take them… I really don’t want to call and ask as then they will be expecting them… don’t know how many I will be able to do but will work on it.. I love to crochet and usually give what i make away … at least these will go to babies that need them… thanks again

  • Jerriann Coxson November 25, 2014, 4:03 am

    Thanks so much for the pattern to start out my NICU premie hat contributions for the 12 days of Christmas. I started out working at Primary Children’s Hospital in 1981 as an RN in the NICU and special care nurseries and loved every minute. The people I worked with, the parents, and especially the babies were wonderful!!!!

  • Cari November 29, 2014, 1:55 pm

    Sorry, I’m a crochet newbie. Should I be joining the rows at the end and chaining to start the new row? Or just follow the pattern as written?

    • Rebecca November 29, 2014, 2:25 pm

      Just follow as written! You’ll be crocheting in a continuous round. This makes your hat seamless. 🙂

      • As May 20, 2016, 3:40 pm

        I’m from the UK and don’t understand the pattern instruction “sk 1st”. Can you help?

        • Sara Eberhart May 20, 2016, 4:27 pm

          Sk 1st means skip first stitch.

          • Rebecca May 23, 2016, 9:07 am

            Thanks Sara 🙂

  • Cheryl Paladino January 12, 2015, 9:06 pm

    Love the idea of doing something that is relaxing as well as contributing. I am a teacher at a special needs school and hope I can involve some of my students in this cause.

  • Amanda May 24, 2015, 12:54 am

    I love this pattern! Both of my children were premature and you’re so right that the NICU goes through hats and blankets. I still have hats from the NICU. Anyway, I love your patterns!

  • Ericka July 1, 2015, 7:59 am

    I was in church Sunday and saw they are collecting hats for NICU’s and immediately thought of your pattern. Can’t wait to start 🙂 Thank you as always for great patterns that are easy to read and turn out absolutely adorable.

  • Liz July 24, 2015, 10:27 am

    Will you give instructions for the magic circle please?

  • Katherine August 19, 2015, 4:33 pm

    Thank you so much for providing these patterns. My NICU baby came home with her little home made knit hat and I was so grateful. She started at 3.6lbs a month later she was home at 4.5lbs. I washed and used that one little hat for a few weeks after that. Even the store preemie hats were too large as her head was very small for quite some time. I had just learned crochet while on bed rest with my baby. I know my our NICU takes these and very tiny soft baby blankets too. I cannot wait to work some up to donate. Our hospital asks that we wash them in allergen free detergent and bring in zipped bags. They then send them through the NICU laundry then stock the closet.

  • Janna September 6, 2015, 8:58 pm

    Thank you all so much for these donations. My twins spent months in a NICU as they were born 12 weeks early. They just turned 4 now and I work with their volunteer group to make hats for all of the preemies there. I still cherish the hats that were made for my babies.

  • Bonnie Rubin September 28, 2015, 3:45 pm

    How many preemie hats should I try to make, for my first attempt at crocheting preemie hats to donate to the local hospital?

    • Rebecca September 30, 2015, 9:50 am

      I think they’ll be grateful for any amount 🙂

  • Nat October 8, 2015, 4:55 pm

    Hi Rebecca,

    These are wonderful ! I was just wondering do you slip stich at the end or each row or continue around ?

    Thanks!

  • Beth Crook January 11, 2016, 9:05 am

    Thank you for the pattern! I just made a ton of these for the Little Hats Big Hearts drive! We had 117 blessed at our school chapel service last friday before sending them off.

  • Kathi Hacker January 11, 2016, 9:33 am

    This pattern has inspired me to join the challenge next year!

  • Donna Argent January 12, 2016, 10:39 am

    I love the idea of using our crocheting skulls to pay it forward. Thank you for this pattern, I will be making some for our local hospital.

  • Kris Voigt January 13, 2016, 12:52 am

    Thanks for your patterns. I knit and crochet for preemies and donate to local hospitals so am always looking for new, easy and fun patterns.

  • Lorren April 28, 2016, 1:29 pm

    Thank you so much for this pattern, my daughter is expected to be preemie size as she is IUGR and this pattern is beautiful and easy to work up! Now I know she will have something that fits and keeps her head warm when she’s born!!

  • Shirley Barber June 30, 2016, 10:18 am

    I am having trouble following the Row 4 instructions in the 1-2 lb. pattern. Aren’t there more than 13 (SC+DC) spaces to crochet in? I must be doing something wrong but can’t figure out what it is. Thank you for your help!

    Shirley

    • Rebecca July 12, 2016, 9:44 am

      So sorry for the delayed reply! Round 4 tells you to Skip, SC+DC, then gives you the repeat instructions and tells you to do it 13 times, so that is 14 times total (covering 28 of 30 stitches). It then instructs you to leave the last stitch unworked (whereas if you followed the sequence you would have put another SC+DC in it). Sorry, I probably could have worded that better. 🙂

  • Jennifer July 18, 2016, 8:31 pm

    Hi- I knit hats for newborns mostly but can make them smaller if needed or in a specific color as well. I would love to help w/my hats. Please let me know where to bring/send them too.

    • Rebecca July 19, 2016, 9:09 am

      Hi Jennifer, this hat was part of the 12 Days of Christmas NICU Hat Challenge, which is just a challenge to make preemie hats for your nearest NICU hospital. So you’d just need to call whichever one is closest to you to get their guidelines. Thanks! 🙂

  • Anna August 14, 2016, 1:23 pm

    Thank you so much for this pattern! I am hoping to make some of these for the children’s hospital. I just have one question: what is the approximate length of the finished hat for all 4 sizes? or should I be okay as long as the hats come out the right width? Thank you =)

  • Jennifer November 26, 2016, 6:06 pm

    How many single crochet stitches go in the magic circle? I’ve only used a 6 sc magic circle for an elephant I made, and I’m new to hats. Thanks for the help.

    • Rebecca November 27, 2016, 8:58 pm

      This pattern uses HDCs in the magic circle, and the pattern tells you in Round 1 how many to make. So for instance in the 1-2 lb pattern it says:

      Row 1: Ch1. 10 HDC in Magic Circle. (10)

      That “10 HDC in Magic Circle” is how many you need to make.

  • Maeghan December 19, 2016, 6:13 pm

    Thank you so much for the pattern, I have had 3 NICU babies 2 spent 4 weeks and 1 spent 2 weeks. I have been wanting to give back and this is the perfect way!

  • Carol Rubin December 20, 2016, 9:49 pm

    Sitting with my daughter trying to keep her 32.5 week premie inside. Crocheting nicu hats for grandbaby to come and unit mates. Thanks for your site!! Good luck on your upcoming arrival.
    Carol Rubin