Who knew that a crocheted octopus toy could have such a big impact?
Thanks to Poole Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), your favorite hobby can be put to good use by making these adorable sea creatures to help comfort premature babies. To raise awareness for World Prematurity Day, the hospital is calling upon avid crocheters to help create small octopuses for all premature babies born in the hospital. It makes sense for any baby let alone a premature baby in the NICU to want something soft to cradle as well as take comfort in, but why an octopus? It turns out that the eight-tentacled sea creatures make the babies feel more secure as the tentacles remind them most of their mother's umbilical cord. (Not to mention, octopi have three hearts so maybe they offer more love and affection than any other animal — even in crochet form.)
This inventive idea originally appeared in Demark where doctors observed premature babies with their crocheted toys. The babies that cradled their octopus had overall health improvements with their breathing, regular heartbeat, strong oxygen blood levels, and were less bothered by the various monitors and IVs. Overall, the prescence of the tiny crochet toy acted as a great calming effect on the babies.
Blogger Gosia of My Nomad Home is offering tips and patterns for anyone who is interested in helping the cause. "There is a fantastic group here in Denmark called spruttegruppen, which encourages crocheters to make little octopuses for premature babies," she says. "The group collects the octopuses for Denmark's 16 neonatal units, so all a person needs to do is to decide to which hospital they want to send the animal, contact the hospital's ambassador and send it to the given address."
Mothers of premature babies like Kat Smith who gave birth to twins at 28 weeks and four days old, commented on the hospital's unique efforts, saying, "One of the nurses brought in the octopus and explained about the idea. The girls absolutely love them. When they are asleep they hold onto the tentacles tightly. Normally they would be in the womb and would play with the umbilical cord so the octopuses make them feel grounded and safe." She went on to comment about the crochet toys, "They're really beautiful."
"It's incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better," said Daniel Lockyer, the neonatal services matron at Poole Hospital. "We're very grateful for all donations and we're sure the families who use our service will be too." If you're an avid crocheter and feel inspired to make an octopus for a baby in need the hospital would love your assistance as it's their goal to give every premature baby an octopus of their very own.
In fact, when the NICU staff presents each mother and baby with the toy, it comes in a gift bag along with a note of how the toy is supposed to promote comfort to the baby and so on. Learn more about this great cause and then download a crochet octopus pattern to make your own crocheted toy for a little one in need.
Feeling inspired? Watch this video to learn the crochet slip-stitch and get started: