Bonding with a new baby is one of the most important and desired things for families bringing a little one into the world. When it comes to having a baby that unfortunately has to spend time in the NICU, bonding can be difficult. Crochet Bonding Squares are a wonderful way to help new mothers bond with their babies through scent.
What are crochet bonding squares?
Crochet bonding squares are small squares that are crocheted in pairs, usually measuring about 5 inches by 5 inches. These squares usually have a simple pattern as the main focus isn’t the look, it’s the sharing of scent between mother and baby to help create a bond.
Using crochet bonding squares is simple. One square is given to the mother to place against her skin and the other is placed with the baby. The squares are then swapped after a bit of time so that the mother has the baby’s scent and the baby can learn the mother’s scent.
Because a sense of smell is one of the most developed senses of any baby, including premature babies, these crochet squares help to nourish the bond between mother and baby.
While you can make these squares for a momma you know, of course, you can also create these crochet bonding squares and donate them to your local NICU. By doing this, you can help families navigate the situation and show them support, love and care.
Before you donate: Make sure your local NICU center accepts donations and verify their specific needs.
If you prefer a premium, ad-free PDF version of this pattern, you can grab one on my Etsy shop by clicking the button below!
Simple Crochet Bonding Squares
When I designed these crochet bonding squares for Sunflower Cottage Crochet’s 2022 Preemie Crochet Challenge, I knew I wanted them to be quick and simple to create, fairly mindless and have a subtle texture.
First, I did a bit of research on the best yarn to use. Of course, I could pick up any “baby” branded yarn and call it good, but I decided to dig a little deeper. I found this guideline of how to donate crocheted items for both NICU and cancer patients from Knots of Love.
Under the Handmade Beanie and Blanket Maker Guidelines, there’s a link to a PDF of their tested and approved yarns. When I noticed that one of my favorite cotton blend yarns, Bernat Softee, was on the list, the search for yarn was over!
With the yarn choice settled, I set off designing. I wanted to create a crochet bonding square pattern that was accessible to crocheters of nearly any experience but still have a bit of personality and texture.
I ultimately decided on a simple ribbed square but with a fun, slightly different construction. These bonding squares are crocheted from a corner out, growing in size with each row crocheted. Aren’t they lovely?
These Bonding Squares are a part of the 2022 Preemie Crochet Challenge!
Every year, I look forward to participating in Helen’s annual Preemie Crochet Challenge. This event is charity focused and aims to help crocheters create items that can be donated to their local hospitals to help premature babies and their families bond while navigating all of the things they have to go through.
When you download a pattern from this event, we count the download as a pledge to crochet at least one of that item and donate it to a charity or family that will benefit from the gift.
If you’d like to get all of the patterns today instead of checking back each day for a new pattern, you can purchase the 2022 Preemie Crochet Challenge bundle.
This year, all proceeds from bundle purchases will be donated to two charities that help families with premature children. So not only do you get all of the patterns at once, you’ll also be donating to a charity!
Where to Get this Pattern
This crochet bonding squares pattern is free in this blog post. Scroll down to view the free version.
However, if you’d like a more robust pattern with a photo tutorial, the steps for the photo tutorial written out in full sentences and a printer friendly version of the PDF, I recommend you purchase the PDF pattern.
With the PDF pattern, you will receive a detailed photo tutorial for the first few starting rows which will set you up to create these crochet bonding squares with confidence and a photo tutorial for the border. The photos include highlighted stitches and details with arrows or dots, when necessary. You can purchase this pattern on Etsy!
Advanced Beginner- These crochet bonding squares use fairly basic stitches and techniques that most advanced beginner crocheters should know. You should know how to chain, single crochet, double crochet, work in the back loop only, create chain spaces and work into them, and understand how to put several stitches into one indicated stitch or space.
Light (3) weight Cotton or Cotton blend yarn. Cotton or cotton blend yarn that is soft to touch is great for babies.
Approximately 1.25 ounces/30 grams/40 yards for both.
Bernat Softee Baby Cotton in colorway Aqua Mist (60% Cotton, 40% Acrylic)
20 dc x 9 rows = Approximately 4 inches x 4 inches.
Gauge isn’t important as you can either stop crocheting when the square reaches size or continue crocheting rows until it reaches size.
Approximately 5 inches x 5 inches. Size is listed after blocking.
- Ch – Chain
- Sc – Single Crochet
- Dc – Double Crochet
- Sl st – Slip Stitch
- Blo – Back Loop Only
- Spc – Space
- Sts – Stitch(es)
- (…) – Indicates to work all stitches in the same space.
- (…) – Stitch counts are listed at end of row in ( ) and bold italics.
- This square is a mitered square, which means it is worked diagonally and grows in size with each row.
- You can alter the size of the square if you prefer by adding or removing rows from your work.
- Chain 1 and 2 at the beginning of rows never count as stitches. Always place the first stitch of your new row in the same stitch you chained out of.
- Most of the stitches in this square are worked in the Back Loop Only (BLO) to give the square a ribbed effect, with the exception of starting and ending stitches.
Special Stitch – Magic Circle
This pattern is written to use a magic circle. You can use the magic circle or you can chain 3 and slip stitch to the first chain made to create a circle to work into. Your choice!
If you don’t know how to work a magic circle but would like to learn, I do have a photo and video tutorial!
Crochet Bonding Squares Free Pattern
Pattern Instructions – Make 2 for the pair!
Row 1 – In magic circle, ch 2 (doesn’t count here or throughout) and place 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc. Pull tail tight. (4 dc, 1 ch 2 spc)
Row 2 – Ch 2, turn. 1 dc first st. 1 dc blo next st, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in ch 2 spc. 1 dc blo next st, 1 dc last st. (8 dc, 1 ch 2 spc)
Row 3 – Ch 2, turn. 1 dc first st. 1 dc blo next 3 sts, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in ch 2 spc. 1 dc blo 3 sts, 1 dc last st. (12 dc, 1 ch 2 spc)
Row 4 – Ch 2, turn. 1 dc first st. 1 dc blo in each st to ch 2 spc, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in ch 2 spc. 1 dc blo each st until 1 st remains. 1 dc last st. (16 dc, 1 ch 2 spc)
Rows 5 through 11 (OR until square reaches approximately 5 inches across) – Repeat Row 4.
Each row will add 4 stitches to your stitch count.
Border – Ch 1 and rotate to work along the raw edge of the square. Place 2 sc in the side of each dc until you reach the end (starting circle). In your starting circle, place 3 sc.
Continue working along the next raw edge, placing 2 sc in side of each dc. At the end, rotate to work along the top of stitches from your last row.
Place 3 sc in the first st, 1 sc in each st to the chain 2 spc and 3 sc in the ch 2 spc.
Then, place 1 sc in each st until 1 remains. Place 3 sc in the last st and sl st to your first st to close.
Finish off your yarn and weave in ends.
I would recommend blocking the square to shape and size, which will help straighten out the edges. You’re done!
A Few Ideas for the Squares…
Of course, the important thing when creating crochet bonding squares is that they are used for their intended purpose. I did have a few ideas while I was designing and crocheting these bonding squares, though, so I thought I would share them!
If you’re creating these crochet bonding squares for someone you know, you could continue crocheting squares while the original two are being used. Once both momma and baby are home safe and sound, you could seam the original two squares and the new squares together to create a baby blanket with a huge amount of love and meaning.
If the mother wanted to, she could pin these bonding squares into a shadow box that would be super lovely to hang in the baby’s nursery and kept safe as a cherished keepsake.
Or, if you just love the simplicity of this pattern but would prefer to make a baby blanket instead, you can continue crocheting rows and rows until the work is to your desired size. Easy!
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That’s it for this crochet bonding squares pattern! Aren’t they simple and lovely?
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