Five Tips (…and then some) for Yarny Baby Gifts

It is over halfway through 2021 and I’m debating if people even still ‘blog’. However, I have lots of projects and patterns in the queue that I want to publish on here, if only because then *I* will have access to them all over the globe, instead of in memo form on my phone, which I’m pretty sure will either spontaneously combust or be destroyed by one of my 3 small kids much sooner for which I’m mentally prepared.

Speaking of kids, I found this draft written in 2014 (!!!) and don’t know why I never published it. I wrote it as a brand new mom of a 3 month old baby at the time. Since then, I had two more babies in the space of 2 years, bringing our household (at the time) to 3 babies 3.5 and under, and I still vehemently agree with everything I discovered below. I’ve also added a few more lessons I’ve realized since then. Of course, every parent is completely entitled to their own opinion, but I’ve yet to meet a new parent that’s like “ooh yeah, doing up 85 buttons is like my most favorite thing ever…”

And now… all the way back from 2014…

For the two people that may see this post, I’ve got several patterns percolating in the queue coming soon, I promise!  I packed up all of my pattern schtuff in April when we left China, I’ve moved four times since, gave birth, and have finally arrived in Chile Dominican Republic for the next two years.  Turns out the State Dept can change plans on you whenever they want, so instead of the land of the llamas, I’m now in the craziest city on a tropical island of average daily temperature of 85 degrees.  Not so conducive to all the sweaters and hats I’d planned for my own baby.  Meh.  More gifts to give away!

Speaking of gifts, I’ve been making baby gifts for about six years now.  When I first started, I operated under an ‘everything is an experiment’ mode since I didn’t have my own baby or baby-donning experience.  Over the years I obsessively researched patterns, making what I thought was super cute.  Now, after three months, I’m totally a baby expert (right?), but I will say that a few things have come to my attention as a Really Lazy Clothing Mom.

1) Shoes/booties.  I don’t know about you, but my baby kicks.  And when he kicks, he doesn’t like, flail his little legs cutely in the air (at least, he didn’t at first, but he’s just now flailing his legs cutely and grabbing his own feet and pulling everything off), he smashed and rubbed them against the surface of whatever he was laying on, and all his socks immediately get frictioned off.  So when I made cute little kimono booties recently and showed them to my husband, his response was ‘I dunno, they look nice and all, but knowing how easily everything comes off baby feet they’re totally useless’.  Yep.  They totally are. (2021 update: booties are still pretty useless on babies. They’re cute for photo ops and photos of the actual booties themselves.)

2) ANYTHING that buttons up the back.  I’ve seen tons of darling sweaters with ‘cute buttons’ up the back.  Turns out, buttons suck in general.  Snaps are also annoying, but at least they’re doable down the front. (Note: trying to change a diaper in the middle of the night with a frantically kicking, starving baby and THEN trying to do up all. those. snaps. made me purchase all future sleepers with zippers only.)  I’ve had a few shirts that had two snaps on the collar to stretch over the baby’s head and I usually don’t end up doing them since my baby basically has no neck.  Don’t try to be all French-stylish and make clothes with buttons up the back.  Do your moms a solid and put them on the front so they can lay their babies down.

(2021 update: I still don’t like buttons up the back, but when the baby can sit up I suppose it’s technically an option. I did once have a friend who showed me a knitted romper her mother in law made… it had long pant legs and about 40 buttons all up and down the legs. My first thought was, ‘How long did that take?!’, quickly followed by ‘it’s such a shame the baby will never wear it.’ Do yourself a favor and don’t spend the time knitting all those buttonholes and sewing the buttons on. Not worth it.)

3) Hats with rolled or folded brims.  I’ve been told several times that my crocheted hats stayed put when other hats all fell off, and I was flattered and all, but it’s true – loose brims = loose hat.  I lovingly knit this cabled beanie for my baby in the hospital, turned up the cuff as per newborn, and that darned thing never stayed on.  Try to keep your hat brims tight, like those baby swaddles so your baby doesn’t keep waking himself up twelve times a night by punching himself in the face…

4) Anything using fuzzy yarn that they might put in their mouths.  I found these gorgeous balls of alpaca/acrylic (is there such a thing?) yarn at A.C. Moore for $1 and originally was going to make a baby sweater, but a Chinese lady at the Chinese yarn shop admonished me to reconsider, since you don’t want lots of sheddy things in your baby’s mouth.  That makes sense, especially now watching my innocent child suck on anything and everything and finding lint between his fingers from being wet all day.  The baby birdy rattle I made out of Caron Simply Soft may have to be re-rendered in cotton.

5) I’ve said this before, and my view hasn’t changed – please don’t give a new mom anything that can’t be washed and dried with everything else unless she specifically requested it or is a fellow yarner.  There simply isn’t enough time to sort out delicates when doing baby laundry, and given the potential bodily fluids that can erupt all over your handmade creation, you as the creator have to be okay with it being scrubbed and pounded and ferociously agitated.  That, or thrown away.  Your choice.

Some additional experiences I’ve had, now that my ‘babies’ are all grown up with opinions of their own:

  • If you’re looking to make your baby adorable sweaters and jackets etc., recognize how much time it may take you vs. how lightning fast babies grow. I can’t tell you how many unfinished projects I have because I foolishly thought I would have time to make my babies things AFTER they were born. Turns out… I never have time. Ever.
  • Make the cutesy stuff you’ve always loved for your babies before they can talk. Because then they can talk, and usually the first words they say are ‘NO I don’t WANT IT!’ and then your poor maker/parent heart is all sad and broken (wait what?)
  • One day, you’ll envision yourself making this nice, sophisticated blue sweater for your daughter and she’ll come back with ‘I want pink sleeves and purple trim and UNICORN BUTTONS EVERYWHERE’ and said item will be hideous, and she might not ever wear it… but keep it anyway. It’s a moment of time when your daughter loved pink and purple and unicorns that you’ll never get back.

As I wipe away my tears of nostalgia, what are some tips you as yarny makers have for little ones??

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