What can a crocheted octopus do for a premmie? Apparently a lot! Well, who would have thought!?
One UK hospital is using crochet octopus softies as a way to help premature newborns thrive. Yes, you read that right – a crocheted octopus. Not a new techy gadget or some modern medical marvel that some super-smarties developed in a lab. A simple, soft, cuddly octopus. And, not one that has a left-like feeling, heartbeat or anything else oddly electronic. This one is a perfectly plain plush toy that’s hand-crocheted (possibly making it the lowest tech device used in the hospital).
Nearly eight percent of babies in Australia are born prematurely each year. The chances for survival increase the further along the pregnancy is – with 90 percent of preemies who are born at 30 weeks gestation surviving. Preterm babies are cared for in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) until they are able to thrive without the help of machines, monitors and other medical assistance.
At Poole Hospital in Dorset, England premature babies are cuddling with these crocheted cuties. Why? It seems like they actually help preemies out. Researchers from Denmark found that when premature babies were given these sea creature lovies to cuddle with (the octopi are placed in the premmies’ incubators when in the NICU), they were less likely to pull out their IV’s and monitoring devices and had better breathing, increased blood oxygen levels and more regular heartbeats.
So, what’s the deal with these awesome octopi? Apparently (according to the research), the crocheted tentacles remind baby of the umbilical cord. This makes them feel like they’re back in the womb – comfy and cozy.
Poole Hospital’s plan is to give every premature baby in the neonatal unit an octopus to cuddle up with. The hospital noted, “Each octopus will be packed into a special gift bag complete with a card about the project and offered to parents.”
Daniel Lockyer, a neonatal service matron at Poole, said, “It’s incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help the feel better. We’re very grateful for all donations of crochet octopi and we’re sure the families who use our services will be too.”
If you’re wondering whether or not these supposedly amazing octopi actually work, they seem to. Kat Smith had her twin premmies at Poole. She told the Bournemouth Echo, “One of the nurses brought in the octopus and explained the idea. The girls absolutely love them. When they are asleep they hold onto the tentacles tightly.” She went on to say, “My miracle girls are now two weeks old and though they have a few conditions associated with premature birth, they are doing really well.” Go octopi!