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Seeing red to help baby care

red hat AldenFirst it was memory mittens for patients with dementia. Then crocheted octopus for premature babies.

Now Poole Hospital’s latest knitting appeal is from the maternity team, who are encouraging keen knitters to get busy making special red hats for newly born babies.

The hats serve two purposes. Woollen hats are an effective way of keeping babies warm in the first few hours after birth when babies come from a warm womb into the world. New born babies are at an increased risk of hypothermia in the first 12 hours.

But some babies need a little extra attention, perhaps because they have a complication like a respiratory condition, jaundice or an abnormal blood glucose levels, and the red hats provide a visual prompt to all staff that the baby needs closer observation than is usually required.

It is hoped the hats will reduce the number of babies who are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit because they develop complications. Each year, around four per cent of babies born full term (after 37 weeks) are admitted to the unit, and around a quarter of these because the baby was cold or not maintaining blood sugar levels.

Christine Pearse, lead midwife for the hospital’s labour ward, introduced the idea to St Mary’s maternity hospital after hearing about its effectiveness in other hospitals.

“It’s well known that babies need to be kept warm immediately after birth,” she said.

“Thanks to kind donations from the public we have been able to give every new born baby a woollen hat, but now we’re encouraging knitters to get their red wool out and knit these special hats for our babies.

“They’re a simple but very effective way of ensuring all staff are aware that a baby may need a little bit more attention.”

Mum Tracy Tome-De-Brito, 38, said she found baby Alden’s red hat reassuring.

“It’s a good idea to make all the staff aware that a baby needs a bit more checking for things like blood sugar levels.

“It’s reassuring to know staff can easily see if a baby needs that extra attention by wearing a red hat.”

Knitting pattern

Use double knitting wool.

Using 3.1/4 m.m. (10) needles.

Cast on 71 sts and work 8cm (3ins) in rib finishing on 2nd row.

Change to 4m.m. (8) needles and work 12 rows in stocking stitch.

Shape crown.

1st row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 5 repeat from * to end.

2nd row and every alternate row, purl.

3rd row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 4 repeat from * to end.

5th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 3 repeat from * to end.

7th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 2 repeat from * to end.

9th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. knit 1 repeat from * to end.

11th row K1*sl.1, K1, p.s.s.o. repeat to the end.

Break off wool and thread wool through stitches, draw up tight and fasten off.

Sew hat up, folding rib in half.


Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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