Parents Perspective

Knit a Little Red Hat to Raise Awareness About Congenital Heart Defects

Join the American Heart Association's Little Hats, Big Hearts project to raise awareness about congenital heart defects, the most common birth defect in the U.S.

baby in red knit hat with heart defect Courtesy American Heart Association
As a health editor for Parents, I'm always hearing about amazing campaigns to help sick or struggling children. While it's heartbreaking to hear these sad stories, it's also so inspiring to learn about the compassionate communities who are joining together to raise awareness and donations.

This month, I'm particularly moved by the American Heart Association's Little Hats, Big Hearts project. February is American Heart Month, and congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect in the United States. To raise awareness, volunteers all over the world are knitting red hats, which are then handed out to babies born in hospitals.

So far, over 93,000 hats have been made by volunteers this year—and we're not yet at the end of the month! They are then distributed at 420 hospitals in 30 states around the country. Last year, hats even came from faraway places such as Africa, Switzerland and Australia. The project is growing rapidly, too—when it first started in 2014, they collected just 300 hats. I have no doubt that this wonderful program will continue to expand every year.

Want to lend a hand? Bust out your knitting needles and check out the project's page, where you can figure out which participating hospital is near you. You can also contact your local office about starting a program if you don't see one nearby. And don't forget to raise awareness on social media, too! Use #LittleHatsBigHearts to show off your hard work.

Chrisanne Grise is the assistant health editor for Parents. Follow her on Twitter: @xanne.