What (handmade) baby items are actually useful?

Parents of Nameberry,

I’m looking for some experiences. Two things I love are fiber arts and preparing for a baby, so naturally, I’ve been baby knitting a lot. But I also have nearly no experience with newborns, so I’m worried that what I’m making looks cute but can/will never be used. (Especially since I’ve made this onesie for my godson, that he - despite being born prematurely - never actually fit into.)
So far I’ve mostly been making socks and hats, some pants and sweaters and a sleeping/kicking bag. I’d love to make more, but I would like to have at least some idea about what will be useful. I know to avoid anything with holes that little fingers and toes could get caught in, and to favour cotton (or anything machine washable really) over wool. But on everything else, there seems to be so much conflicting information out there: Avoid onesies because you’ll have to take them fully off for a diaper change – use only onesies or baby will undress themselves. No buttons because baby will chew on them – you need buttons or you won’t be able to put it on. etc, etc…
I know different parents and different babies prefer different things, but I would still love some input from people who have some experience dressing babies. It doesn’t have to be about clothing, either! What should I look for in a baby blanket or lovey? What nursery decor is actually interesting for a baby to look at and not just cute to adults?

Thank you all in advance for your replies and have a wonderful day :slight_smile:

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Here’s the stuff I used a lot of in the first newborn stage:

  • baby carrier (much more often than pram in first year)
  • full sleeve and shorter sleeved onesies or grow suits (but usually cotton with covered zippers down front and/or click in buttons around crotch)
  • newborn swaddle onesies (see Love to Dream for an eg) - had a handful of these
  • a good dozen muslin cloths for swaddling and added layers
  • lots of leggings for over the short/sleeveless onesies
  • wool hats, cotton socks, sleeveless vests, and wool cardigans, pretty dress for special occasions as approached the year mark
  • tightly woven but light wool blankets - one for pram, two for bassinet on rotation (though only used added layer on top of swaddle/sleeping bag when chilly out and while could watch her esp once she started turning herself over
  • which is when you need sleeveless sleeping bag (these are very handy, had a few)
  • cloth nappies / diapers to lay on change matt so not so chilly for baby and easier to clean, for under butt in pram in case leaks, on sofa to pop over shoulder when burping - basically a stack of towelling nappies/diapers are super handy to have around
  • a large thick, fluffy matt (mine was a bear but there are lamb and other ones) for lying/tummy time on the floor
  • bouncer
  • thermometer for bath (and obv bath/change stuff, and first aid stuff etc etc)
  • toys can safely hold/chew and (later) cuddle including some homemade
  • babies like to look at black and white, big shapes, hanging mobiles (though better if over change table than over bed), some white noise/music — they need a serene environment mostly, and most of their stimulation from you and others talking to them, pointing out things, and smiling and playing with them - would recommend Simplicity Parenting. Ideally, they’re in the same room as you but in their own bassinet for first 6 months (reduces risk of SIDS). Didn’t use anything like a lovey (we would call them a “blankey”) or soft toy to sleep with until around the 12-18 month mark when was past the age for highest risk of suffocation - wouldn’t have any toys in bed, extra bedding or bumpers or anything like canopies for at least first year or two. And slowly make a nursery for them over time - would use just for changing and playing at the beginning - and if it’s something you like too (not for Instagram but restful and pleasing for you), likely to make baby calmer too!

Get this is out of scope but just to give a sense of what I realistically used. Didn’t need a lot of the pretty dresses people gave me - missed the chance to wear a lot of them (eg a winter dress didn’t fit by time winter arrived or too small for summer dress but following summer too big), wouldn’t buy fancy stuff in advance unless it’s on sale as the timings can’t just not line up with their growth. Just buy a need in the moment. Didn’t need many toys - mostly used blocks and things of different colours and textures. And of course books. Hopefully at least some of these can be translated into crafts!

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I mostly have experience with others’ babies and kids, but here are some thoughts:

Hats made from fibers with some stretch are nice to have. I have splurged on super wash merino before for making hats for kiddos in my family, but I know that isn’t for everyone. For a lovey, soft cotton is good. I’ve never made or received socks, but I imagine they are good to have. Maybe little mittens for cold weather too? If you have skill to make clothing, a pullover sweater or something would probably be used as long as it is machine washable and a tight enough weave.

I am torn on baby blankets. Some people might have ways to use them safely, but because of sleep safety stuff I have planned more for sleep sacks and seen others mostly use sleep sacks for a good portion of time. Blankets have more use later but when the kid is big and in control of their body enough for the blanket not to be a suffocation risk.

Very little babies have very poor vision, and high contrast is going to be more interesting to them than low contrast. So if you wanted to do a lovey or a toy or something for the baby to look at, that is something to keep in mind.

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@EloiseT + @NameSearchAccount have given loads of ideas and have taken the majority of mine but wanted to share hand made items I’ve received for [name_f]Lilia[/name_f]

[name_f]My[/name_f] mum Made me a knitted blanket and my mums friend (photo below) they were amazing and still loved as comforters for [name_f]Lilia[/name_f] today
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[name_f]My[/name_f] daughter has curly Afro hair and I received a woolly hat which had silk inside so it’s woolly on the outside but the silk inside protects her hair and that’s an amazing hat my daughter has received

[name_f]Hope[/name_f] this post helps :two_hearts:

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L looks so adorable - I know it’s back in time but wish could pick her up for a (welcome) cuddle! Prompted me to scroll for a photo of W in her homemade gear - here at 9 months in a jumper/sweater my friend’s mum made her. She wore this and another couple of woollen cardigans a good amount! Should have added in original post, woollen play-mats are also useful, even to pop on top of a (weather proof) picnic blanket when in park for extra comfort for baby to lie/toddle on.

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The first thing that comes to mind is hats. Especially if they’ve got a lining inside, witch makes them less itchy. [name_m]Barnabas[/name_m], for example, would become extremely cranky when he had to wear anything made from wool (sensory issues), but my aunt made a wool hat for him with a silk lining, which was very useful.

Also baby mats / play mats, preferably soft and thick to put on the floor.

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Ahhh thank you so much @EloiseT so does your girl bless her soul they are so tiny and precious and grow up so quickly!!!

Handmade stuff are the best

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Only adding to what’s already been said, that in the onesie link in the original post, I would use the second, the gray one. It has no legs, so it wouldn’t have to be taken off entirely for diaper changes. Not sure if the green one the baby is wearing has legs or if he’s wearing little pants under it, but that arrangement looks less user-friendly.
Zippers are better than buttons or snaps, except in the onesie crotch, where a zipper wouldn’t really work.
The handmade items I’ve used the most have been little knitted pullovers, for layering.

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Thank you everyone! I’ll add lined hats and blankets to my mental list.

Neither of them has legs, he must be wearing pants underneath it. The issue with the one I made was actually the sleeves though, even though there are buttons on one side. So I’ve been wondering if buttons on both sides would be better, or if they simply should go further down.

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For us, knitted (or sewn/quilted) blankets, dresses and sun bonnets (we used sun bonnets a lot) were what we used the most from our handmade gifts. We also got a few ‘sets’ of matching dresses/bonnets/booties.

Also not really knitted but just handmade ideas, but we got a lot of handmade burp clothes which were much larger than what you get in the store, and those were amazing! We also got a handmade changing pad which we used till it fell apart
Like this one…

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So the onesie shoulders were too tight, trying to get arms into sleeves? I feel like buttons on both sides might solve that problem best.

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Hand knitted or crafted stuff is amazing to have for baby and definitely comes in handy if you live in a colder place, so 100% keep going with it! Honestly you are such a clever clogs for thinking about the washing in advance. We have bought soooo many knitted woollen things that are hand wash only :sweat_smile:

Our go-to for hand knitted items are hats, cardigans, blankets and loveys. Hats especially - my favourite is this one that a friend knitted for her, but they all get a lot of use, as do the blankets:

[name_m]Just[/name_m] be careful with blankets in terms of knowing which ones are safe for sleep - I think the advice varies from country to country but where we live you are only supposed to use sleep bags or lightweight cellular blankets in the crib :grin:

I think it depends a bit if you are making the item for a young baby or something more long-lasting/for an older baby. I don’t think even Houdini babies are able to undress themselves until 6+ or 9+ month territory! As for onesies, if you can make them with fastenings on the bottom or leg parts, I think absolutely you will get use out of them. But anything (vests, onesies, outfits) with buttons only on the back is my personal nemesis. Having to take something fully off to change the baby doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you are already late for your appointment and your baby decides to do a life changing bowel movement :sweat_smile:

If you did want to reduce the number of buttons or fastenings on something but still keep the manoeuvrability for changing, I would recommend kimono/wrap style jumpers, onesies, sleep bags etc. They are so easy to put on and undo without having to wrangle with baby’s head, which is sometimes the difficulty with hand knitted pieces that don’t have as many buttons! I can’t find a photo of it now, but [name_f]Alice[/name_f] had something similar to this (but a lot clunkier and less chic!):

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We received a lot of handmade things as a lot of our older relatives and their friends are very crafty.

One thing that was super special was the crocheted octopuses a friend of mine made for my premmie twins. They still have them and play with them as toys now they’re older. Similar to this: Crochet Octopus For Preemies
ETA: these were ok for my premmies as they were constantly supervised and monitored while in the hospital. I wouldn’t give them to full-term babies due to risk of suffocation etc.

The other handmade items that have had the most use in my house are the blankets my aunt made, one for each of my kids. She said her kids specifically asked to make bigger size blankets so they would fit older kids. (I’ll guess they’re about 1.3ish metres in length, so still fit my nearly 6 year olds). They’re made of fleece and then she crocheted around the edges. They have been much loved by all my kids.

A friend of my mother-in-law’s made flannelette swaddle blankets (crocheted around the edges) which I used for swaddling when my bubs were tiny - but as others have mentioned, safety concerns are constantly being updated so I’d be a bit wary of anything sleep-related.

I used any smaller baby-size woollen blankets we received as pram blankets. My girls use these now as blankets for their baby dolls and toys. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Another set of much-loved handmade items came from my parents’ neighbour. She made fabric baby books with embroidered pictures of animals and really simple text. My kids still love these! She also made a kind of memory game out of fabric squares (say, 6 pairs of matching pictures). So adorable and such a special keepsake.

And we also got the usual jumpers and hats - all woollen - I appreciate your thinking @Wandarine in using machine washable material. Woollen jumpers + messy kids meant they didn’t actually get that much use, unfortunately.

I have never seen a knitted onesie before! How sweet. I loved onesies for my babies. They all had snaps/studs at the crotch which made nappy changes super easy.

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I’ve had a friend of my mum who got a knitted/crocheted baby book for her baby. The inside has loads of texture and bright colors in it that her baby loved. It looks a lot like this one except with an ocean theme!

jZOIkpCrUYRRuMeUCmM_nq5hPQepNThs27FLGOLIDhM

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I’m afraid in my own experience I didn’t gravitate to any of the knitted or crochet items gifted to me except for one cardigan. [name_f]My[/name_f] son was born at the beginning of winter but I still didn’t use any of the crochet socks, beanie or blankets. I just used full body suits and sleep sacks.

I love the ideas of the baby book and memory cards. It makes me think of other educational toy ideas that could be made with fibres such as stacking blocks or discs and alphabet letters for sorting. I would’ve been thrilled to receive a gift like that. It would definitely get a lot of use especially since toys aren’t a size they grow out of but a stage of development.

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A hat [with earflaps & ties especially] came in handy for my little ones.

For my daughter I really like to pair a good sized cowl with what I think is a very wide adult knitted headband (so it basically has the effect of a wimple or hooded cowl.)

A dickey/popover & warm vests are always nice (with or without a hood.) Some of my favorite items for the kids!

I like to get the thicker muslin blankets (4-6 layers) and pair them with a homemade knitted or crocheted blanket (and/or a plaid wool in the wintertime.)

For my first son I used different soft cotton yarns (I like pima cotton especially) and knitted a color block garter stitch blanket then freestyle embroidered it (meaning I didn’t really know what I was doing haha!) then hand-sewed a cotton lining on (with my very rudimentary sewing skills) and whip stitched (I think) it for reinforcement.

For my daughter I have a crocheted blankie I made using an African flower granny square pattern which I thought was very pretty.

I really like lopapeysas for cold weather.

I have tons of hats that get used a lot (made using superwash wools and cottons but at this point I use non-superwash merino wool mostly and prefer it, especially because my children tend to have sensitive skin.)

Two things I haven’t knitted for them myself and often find we need now that we live where it snows are wool gloves and wool socks. If you learn how to care for them, wool items really are fantastic (and incomparable for wintertime, in my opinion!!)

Probably my favorite items are the layering vests and dickeys and pullovers, plus hats.

For my daughter, I really like to dress her in leggings/longies/base layer thermals with jumper/pinafore dresses on top (all wool).

I like to dress my kids in items that are a bit roomier so all of these work over multiple years:

Blankets:


One of my favorite hats:

Dickey:

Some of my favorite vests:

This green hooded short sleeve sweater vest has been great for layering:

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@ladyofthetower Thank you for the thorough response! Is the blankie with the sun and the llama the one you were describing above? It looks awesome! (I’m usually rather torn on garter stitch - it’s the fluffiest but I don’t like how it looks at all.)

@Chococat @kachenka @highhippogriff I’ll add baby books to my mental list as well, I already have some in mind :slight_smile:

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It is! [name_f]My[/name_f] son used it until he was about 5 along with a large thick muslin blanket. Now I’m storing it for him (I like to make little collections for when they’re older in case they have children of their own or just want to have their special handmade childhood items as keepsakes.)

I know exactly what you mean about garter, it took me many years to gain a deeper appreciation for the stitch haha!

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