For me, choosing the right yarn is the most important part. Babies don't want scratchy, itchy yarn next to their delicate skin. That's why some yarn ranges have a dedicated 'baby' range. Here are some of my favourite yarns for knitting gifts for babies, suitable for varying budgets:
1. Debbie Bliss Cotton DK. I was first introduced to this yarn through the lovely knitting book The Knitted Nursery. I did some pattern testing for my friend Nancy and found that the cotton DK is a lovely yarn to work with. It's soft and creates great stitch definition, plus there's no shedding or scratchiness. I've knitted the Happy Bunny and the Junior Jumper for quite a few babies in the past and they've always gone down a treat. Plus they're easy to wash. This is a great pattern book for beginner knitters and for quick knits.
2. MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino. The pattern book Bright Young Things contains a couple of tried and tested patterns in bright colours - the Olle hat and the Teddy Blanket, which I'm currently working on. Like the Debbie Bliss yarn the merino is soft and squashy but holds itself together well when knitting. I love the bright colours in the range and the primary colours are perfect for both if you don't yet know the sex of the baby you are knitting for, or if you want to avoid the stereotypical pink for girls and blue for boys route.
3. Sirdar Snuggly. This is a yarn specially created for babies and feels as its name says. This sweater pattern that will fit babies up to children aged 7 is very similar to a couple I have knitted for twin boys. This yarn is priced at the cheaper end of the scale.
4. Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK. A more expensive choice, this yarn feels luxurious. I like to use it for smaller items such as a hat. It's machine washable and comes in a range of 26 muted, pastel-style colours. Rowan supports the yarn with number of patterns, my favourite being the Defoe hat to keep those little ears warm!
So it's back to the needles for me and I wish my five expectant mum friends every luck with their forthcoming births!