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9 Free Knitting Patterns to Knit Preemie Hats for Charity

You’ll love knitting preemie hats for charity with these 9 adorable patterns

“Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising. Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for nearly 1 million deaths in 2013.”

That’s a scary-sounding paragraph, isn’t it? Unfortunately it’s not just a scary story. These statistics come directly from the World Health Organization.

Why Knitting Preemie Hats Is So Important

I posted these statistics about prematurity as a reminder.

Yes, knitting for preemies is fun. Projects fly quickly from the needles. You can use the brightest and squishiest yarns. Making such tiny adorable items melts the heart.

But don’t let anyone fool you: this is important work! Preemie hats help keep tiny heads warm and improves these babies’ chances for survival. The fact that preemie hats are so darned cute is just a delightful bonus.

Ready to knit warmth for tiny heads? Check out this collection of 9 free knitting patterns for preemie hats!

For more delightful preemie patterns, check out my Free Preemie Pattern Category Page! 

Get “How to Get Your Handknits to Local People in Need: What You Need to Know” FREE with your subscription to the Knitting Nuggets Newsletter. When you join this community, you’ll receive resources + inspiration to knit patterns you love for people you care about!

Free Knitting Patterns for Preemie Hats

1. Seed Stitch Cap

  • What you’ll need to make it: 1 oz light worsted weight yarn; US Size 3 needles
  • Why you’ll want to: Aside from “because it’s so cute!” (because really, that can be said for all of these), you’ll find the seed stitch brim utterly charming. It makes a delightful change from the usual roll-brim or ribbed brim.

2. Baby Ribs Hat

  • What you’ll need to make it: 210 yards sport weight or any other soft baby yarn; US Size 3 needles (of your choice, depending on whether you prefer to knit flat or in the round)
  • Why you’ll want to: This hat is fully ribbed from top to bottom, meaning it will stretch nicely and conform to any preemie’s tiny head. And you have choices: whether you prefer to knit flat and seam up the side, or seamlessly in the round, this pattern has you covered.

3. Preemie/Newborn Hat

  • What you’ll need to make it: About 170 yards baby yarn; US Size 6 needles
  • Why you’ll want to: This is a super-basic hat for larger preemies. You don’t even need to decrease! Just knit a little ribbing, knit stockinette stitch, and then pull the top stitches closed and sew up the seam. This hat can easily be finished in a few hours or less!

4. Bunny Hat

  • What you’ll need to make it: 2 oz light worsted weight yarn; scraps of worsted weight yarn for bunny; US Size 5 needles; US Size F crochet hook
  • Why you’ll want to: Do you really need a reason to knit a sweet little preemie hat with an adorable bunny applique attached? (Me either!)

5. Cute as a Button Preemie Hat

  • What you’ll need to make it: 315 yards light worsted weight yarn; US Size 4 needles and US Size 6 DPNs and/or circular needles (depending on how you prefer to knit in the round)
  • Why you’ll want to: You can knit this pattern as written to create a beautiful baby girl’s hat, or skip the embroidery and use different colors for an adorable baby boy’s hat! Either way, it’s a stylish and precious preemie hat.
Cute as a Button Preemie Hat
Photo: Joy Morgan

6. Preemie Hat in Two Variations

  • What you’ll need to make it: 1/2 oz sport or DK weight yarn; US Size 4 DPNs and/or circular needles (depending on how you prefer to knit in the round)
free knitting patterns for preemie hats
Preemie Hat in 2 Variations
Photo: Pattie Pierce Stone
  • Why you’ll want to: This hat pattern has a sweet little stem at the top and can be created either in seed or stockinette stitch.

7. Slip Stitch Preemie Hat & Tiny Toe Up Sockies

Slip Stitch Hat & Sockies - Patti Pierce Stone
Slip Stitch Hat & Sockies
Photo: Patti Pierce Stone
  • What you’ll need to make them: 120 yards DK weight yarn (with 35 yards in a contrasting color, if using); US Size 2, 4, and 5 DPNs and/or circular needles (depending on how you prefer to knit in the round)
  • Why you’ll want to: I love the little pops of color made possible by the slip stitch pattern in both the cap and the tiny socks. You’ll appreciate that the adorable cap matches up with an equally adorable pair of socks.

8. NICU-Friendly T-Bonnet

  • What you’ll need to make it: 1/2 oz baby or lace weight yarn, or 1 oz fingering weight yarn (depending on the size you make); US Size 0, 1, or 3 needles (again, depending on the size you make); 1 yd 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch satin ribbon; 3 3/8-inch flat needles
  • Why you’ll want to: First, because pattern is–as indicated by the name–designed especially for preemies in the NICU. Second, because it comes in 3 different sizes, ideal because not all preemies are the same size, even while in the NICU.
    And, finally, because it’s so incredibly cute. I mean, really, who can resist that adorable ribbon? Or the cute little chin strap and button?
    (You’ll also find a pattern for picot-edged booties on the same page!)

9. Incredible Expanding Gnome Cap

  • What you’ll need to make it: 80 yards sport weight yarn; US Size 1 DPNs and/or circular needles (depending on how you prefer to knit in the round)
  • Why you’ll want to: Not many preemie hats are both this incredibly cute and this practical. The tiny cables are simply too sweet, and this hat was specifically designed to grow with the baby. It can continue being of use until baby is up to 3 months old!
Incredible Expanding Gnome Cap - preemie hat pattern
Incredible Expanding Gnome Cap
Photo: Maureen Hefti

With this wonderful selection of free knitting patterns for preemie hats, you can help save lives and have fun knitting all at the same time!

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9 free knitting patterns for preemie hats for charity

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4 Comments

  1. Many years ago I belonged to a group of knitters and crocheters who knitted an/or crochet preemie hats, and preemie blankets. The baby hats and blankets were delivered to hospital labor and delivery in our area. Its been a long minute since I knitted preemie hats and blankets; I don’t know where my patterns went, but I would very much appreciate new patterns.
    Thank You,
    Debi