I can also say that the best yarn for these little hats is that baby yarn that everyone hates with the little silver thread going through it... It does not release fiber/fuzzies very readily, and therefore is permitted for use on a baby with a trach, or on a vent with CPAP. No wool yarn is permitted to be used (even a wool blend) in the presence of oxygen since there is a potential for static, and even a small "shock" can be dangerous in the presence of increased ambient oxygen. Plus, the younger the gestational age of the baby, the more likely skin reactions are to "foreign" materials... some babies look like a rash head to toe just from contact with the " used a thousand times and really soft" receiving blankets that we used instead of sheets. Soft really is important to them.
(Bev Qualheim who had 3 premature babies ~ soft baby or soft sport weight yarn is good. Make sure the items you make have a lot of stretch to them as preemies have really delicate skin.)
from Bev's Size Charts Page
1 -2 lbs 1kg
2 - 3 lbs 1.4 kg
4 - 5 lbs 2 kg
5 1/2 - 6 lbs 2.7 kg
If I may suggest, that we make some hats and blankets really, really small. The lower level of viability is a head circumference of 20.5 cm. That is roughly the size of a large egg at the widest part. Smaller than this, there is little likelihood that a child will survive, no matter how much effort is expended on its behalf.
Because some of these teenies are not the first but maybe the 4th or 5th pregnancy ( and this is as far as they have been able to get), and even if the staff knows in the delivery room that this child probably won't survive the night, we do everything possible to show these special parents that this child is every bit as much a person deserving of love and care as the 10 pounder in the next isolette... the parents will have noticed the birth weight of that 10 pounder may have been just a pound, but that was 6 months ago. And that gives them hope, even for the moment.
The less likely it looks that a child will survive the night, the more important it is for the nurses to have TEENY hats (egg sized and very stretchy.. as you would see using a 2 x 2 rib), booties no bigger than a 1-1/4" sole, and blankets no bigger than about 10 x 12. As these babies are laying out on the warmers, the very fact that the clothes provided are NOT too big for their baby is comforting ... they have all walked past the warmers where there is baby using a 1/2 cotton ball and saran wrap for a diaper, or a blanket made of a sheet of saran wrap to trap the baby's body heat.... the parents just don't realize that these babies are the same size as theirs, who happened to survive that first night....
BLANKETS and COLORS!
Finally, may I suggest that we steer clear of the traditional pink, blue, lavender, mint and yellow for these extremely teeny blankets and hats. A dying baby has AWFUL color, and the blue and lavender especially make the baby look even worse. Usually,the parents want to take pictures of their newborn, even if it is no longer alive, and the best made blanket in a traditional baby color blue makes those pictures ghastly. That is all they will have to show family and friends.
Blankets and hats that are made white, with a small trim of color that will indicate whether the child is a boy or a girl, truly enhance the baby's appearance, and make the pictures easier for the parents in the weeks to come. (blankets and burial layettes that are used once the child has passed are lovely in the traditional baby colors...It is only for the blankets used while the child is still alive that white is the preferred color)
I know our hospital had the loving attention of women all over who made plenty of hats and blankets suitable for babies about 3 lbs and larger, but it was the nurses who made the smaller hats, because the volunteer knitters did not know that we needed some to be even smaller, and even if we asked for some smaller, I think they did not believe we could possibly use them.... It would be a tremendous blessing to NICUs everywhere to include some sets for the smallest of the small....
*** Added 7-22-11: Another reason that neutrals are so important is that many babies born with any number of " syndromes" do not survive ( as the syndromes are incompatible with life once the baby is off the placental circuit), and one of the most unfortunate things about some of these syndromes is that they are unable to determine the sex of the child. Therefore a white, mint or even a pale yellow are preferable to the traditionals in these cases. Of course, most preemies are born too early with perfectly intact "equipment", but in the other cases, why add to the parents' heartbreak by giving a pink blanket to a child that " appears" to be a girl, and on autopsy a couple of days later , will be shown to be male or hermaphrodite?
I like to use Encore Colorspun as my go-to blanket color for these babies. I do not know what the color would be called as it is identified by a number. But it is a white yarn with tiny flecks of color ( pink/ blue/ green/ yellow/ lavendar) spaced widely apart, and I think it covers all the bases... male, female and/ or other. It also is quite soft. Although I would not make a preemie garment in it, it is certainly great for 12-14" blankets.
*** Added Jan 2008: Any fabric that has the potential to fray needs to have the raw edges bound in the most secure manner available. Whether this is a crocheted edge over a (single) turned down edge, or turning the hem over twice does not matter. I have seen tiny fingers and toes turn black from having the blood supply cut off after getting them tangled in fringe, button holes, open stitching in a beautifully crocheted blanket, etc. The nurses cannot be at every baby's cribside at every minute, and it does not take long for a squirmy baby to get tangled up in thread of any kind. The finer the thread, the more present the danger.... worsted weight yarn ( while not terribly appropriate for preemies), will usually only cause some swelling below the site of the entanglement. Sewing thread, unravelling fabric edges,and fine fringe, can actually cut through a baby's delicate skin... the younger the gestational age of the baby, the more likely this is to happen as well.
Not to mention that even preemies will put anything in their mouths....if a baby is on a ventilator, there is no danger of them choking on a shread of thread. It is the babies that are not on ventilators who can experience a small shred getting stuck in their throats...."
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