Calling all knitters and crocheters! An initiative called “Little Hats, Big Hearts” is seeking volunteers to knit red newborn caps for babies born in the month of February.
The project is meant to raise awareness about congenital heart defects, which affect about 40,000 babies born in the United States each year (or eight out of every 1,000 newborns), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, congenital heart defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Many are simple and non-life threatening, but others require surgery or other intensive treatment. The red hats are also meant to raise awareness about heart health in general.
Why February? Well, because it’s American Heart Month. And red goes along with the whole heart theme that’s already happening for Valentine’s Day, too.
Started in Chicago in 2014, the project has since expanded nationwide. Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital shared this heartwarming collage of tiny babies looking adorable in the red hats.
Today, the project is in more than 40 states. They’ve come a long way from just 300 hats in the Chicagoland area three years ago!
Want to get involved? The American Heart Association is looking for knitters and crocheters, as well as donated skeins of red yarn. More information, as well as knitting and crocheting patterns, can be found on the AHA website. The hats are for both full-term and premature babies, and you can feel free to knit or crochet as many as you like.
Instagram users are sharing sweet photos of hats they’ve made for the special effort, and we can’t wait to see them on tiny baby heads come February.
It’s neat to see each crafter’s take on the red hat. With some adding other colors to the red base:
Others are adding special features like ears or pompoms.
Or getting creative with the pattern:
Some are making them specifically sized for premature babies:
One user, Mary Richmond, shared that she’s aiming to make 100 hats by January 12. What an awesome goal. Here’s her first one:
If there’s no program in your local area, you can contact the AHA to start one or find the closest hospital where you can send or drop off red hats.
Whether you’re nimble with a needle or not, now you’ll know why all the February babies on your Facebook feed are wearing red hats instead of the standard-issue pink-and-blue knit caps. Red represents healthy hearts for everyone at every age, from the NICU and beyond.