Premature babies in the NICU at Poole Hospital in Dorset, England, are being given crochet octopuses to help them feel safe in their incubators. And these adorable creatures aren’t just cute, there’s a scientific reason they work.
It turns out, the crocheted tentacles remind infants of their umbilical cords and being inside mom’s womb, and that makes them feel safe. The idea is from Denmark, research there shows toy octopuses can calm babies, and squeezing their tentacles helped them breathe better, have more regular heartbeats, and higher levels of oxygen in their blood. Plus, it makes them less likely to pull on their tubes and monitors.
"When we heard about the difference cuddly octopi can make to tiny babies we were impressed and, after research, eager to introduce them to our little patients,” explains neonatal nurse Daniel Lockyer. “It's incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better."
You can make an octopus of your own with this pattern.