I often get asked about hats and headbands. They're an awesome gift for bereaved families, and also serve a very valuable purpose of covering bruising and providing support to fragile heads. I did a photosession recently for a family that doesn't speak English as their primary language. The hospital had a beautiful crocheted gown on hand, but nothing for their baby's little head. I pulled out a hat and a headband, and the mom's eyes immediately lit up when she saw the cute little pale pink flower on the headband. It was just the right touch.
There are a wide range of head sizes. It is easiest for me to visualize objects of comparison. The smallest little micropreemies have heads about the size of a plum. The next size up is about the size of an apple. Then a large navel orange, a grapefruit, and finally, normal newborn size.
One of my biggest issues with some of the hats I have had donated in the past is their lack of stretch. In order to slide these hats on without damaging fragile skin, they need to be quite stretchy. Preferably stretchy enough to turn them inside out and carefully flip them right side out onto their head. I've had a lot of hats donated that were made on the round looms. Some of them work ok, depending on what kind of yarn is used, but many of them are pretty tight. The more flexible ones are either sewn from stretchy fabric, crocheted or knitted.
I love hats that have a little bit of character. Little embellishments like a flower, pom pom or a button, or a pale blue stripe as an accent make it so much more personal of a gift. One of my favorite hats that I've photographed was a cute beenie style hat with a crocheted purple flower on the front that matched the accompanying blanket. Just like I posted in the previous post about yarn colors, though, stay away from rainbow yarn. Blotchy hat + bruised skin doesn't come out looking so great. Also, yellow and green don't complement the skin tone well either.
Here are some links to patterns that I particularly like.
Knit hat patterns (These are my absolute favorite! So cute!)
Crocheted bonnet for little girls
Knit hat and bootie sets
Knit hat and hand mitt set (This may not be very stretchy, but it's very cute. More muted shades would be desirable, but the embellishment concept is great.)
Crocheted hat and bonnet patterns (This hat looks like it may not be as stretchy. I would love some feedback if you try this pattern.)
Hat and Kimono set (totally adorable, and I'd love them in sizes as small as fitting around a standard bottle of water)
Headbands are fantastic for baby girls. Use soft, stretchy banding that's at least 1/2" wide up to 5/8". Flowers and bows should be 1-1 1/2" in diameter. As cute as ginormous big-as-their-head flowers are on healthy newborns, they're a bit much for bereavement use. Pale pinks, purples, creams, whites, and even pale yellow as an accent color are all great.
I will come back and edit this post to include photos in the next week or so, but in the mean time I just wanted to get some patterns up for those that have requested it.