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24 September 2014

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Ray Of Hope

You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Your Community > Ray Of Hope > More about Ray Of Hope

A close up of a baby's face

More about Ray Of Hope

More about Ray Of Hope - a charity based at Leighton Hospital in Crewe that provides knitted clothing for babies.

Teeny-tiny babywear for neonatal units...

All newborn babies are very precious and need warm light clothing. Premature ones even more so, they need to be kept warm, with no irritation to their delicate skin. Garments need to be neat, uncluttered and practical. Some of the babies are very small. For instance a baby weighing 865gm (under 2lb) is about 15cms (6") long. The babies weights can range from 450gm/1lb (really!) in weight, but the units also have babies in up to perhaps 4,500gm (10lb).

The staff on the neonatal unit find it a great advantage to the babies to dress them soon as practical in soft warm outfits.


They prefer cardigans, as if a baby has a feeding tube etc it is not practical to pull a sweater over their head.

It is important that cardigans are not tight at the wrists or welts.

If you are a tight knitter, try going up one needle size, or use garter stitch or moss stitch instead of rib at the welts and cuffs. (Machine knitters, could use mock rib, picot edges etc) especially at the wrist. 1/1 rib may look very neat, but it is no use if babies little hands and tiny fingers, have to be forced through. Stocking stitch may not test your knitting skills, but it is very smooth for baby to lie on.

If you like to vary your work, a little cable stitch up the front or a small pattern on the rows after the welts, can look very pretty. Too much lace may look pretty, but it can also be ‘pretty’ dangerous, baby’s fingers are oh so very tiny. Buttons are fine, but not metal ones or anything that could heat up in an incubator. Avoid cardigans with ribbon ties, especially at the neck; they are a definite no, no. V necked or round necked are both most welcome.

You will find patterns here on the site to suit babies from a 10" chest upwards. Any small sensible pattern will do. If you use dolls patterns the thing to watch is that sometimes the pattern is referring to the dolls height rather than the chest size. Pattern with the back and fronts knit in one piece are ideal, as there are fewer seams to chafe delicate skin. We try not to use dark colours for the very tiny sizes 10" to 12" (25-30cms) but some modern mums (and Dads) do like the brighter colours.


Bonnets are most useful. A little row of holes just after the cast on rib is most useful, as they hold tubes in place. You will find patterns on our site for plain ones, little helmets and bob hats. All these hats are used in both the delivery suite and the neonatal unit, so we need a whole variety of sizes.

Ventilator Bonnets

These bonnets are particularly useful for any unit that scans. Ann Bearpark (Sister), Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Leighton Hospital exlains:

"Whilst caring for fragile infants in the neonatal intensive care unit, they have ultrasound cranial scans via the anterior fontanelle, which has in the past meant moving the bonnet manually and causing disturbance to the infant We have also found that parents like to keep the hats for posterity which is why we use up these hats so quickly."

To you and I it means the soft spot on the baby’s head can be reached quickly and simply.

There are two different variations of these bonnets now on the site.

Please Note: not all units use these bonnets. Please check with your local unit. We are pleased to accept them at Ward 24 Leighton Hospital Crewe.


Booties are used but not in as great a quantity as sometimes the staff need baby’s feet exposed.


Blankets are always useful for use in the incubators, cots and for keeping baby warm whilst having a cuddle. Please use your favourite pattern, you can practice your stitch patterns on these. Close knit patterns are best you will find both hand and machine knit patterns on the site. The size to aim for is approx. 24" to 30" square, but is by no means critical.

Please send us your favourite patterns. Only send original patterns, as we do not want to infringe copyright.

last updated: 30/10/07

You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Your Community > Ray Of Hope > More about Ray Of Hope

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