Sweet Preemie Is Scared, Then NICU Nurse Hands Her A Tiny Crocheted Octopus

February 23, 2017

Having a baby is a stressful experience no matter how prepared you are.

When you go into labor weeks or even months before you’re due, though, the experience can be terrifying.

Not only are you not mentally prepared to give birth, you may also not have the items necessary to take a baby home. On top of that, you know that your child may not be fully developed, which can lead to serious health problems, as this mom of triplets knows.

When Kat Smith went into labor with her twin daughters, she knew they were premature. The babies, Jasmine and Amber, were both put into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Giving birth to a premature baby can cause lots of complications, especially if the baby comes months before the due date. These babies usually spend weeks or months in the NICU while they finish developing.

One hospital in the U.K. has found an interesting solution for making preemies more comfortable during their NICU stays: crocheted octopus toys.

Flickr / The Hudson Family

Being in the NICU is definitely not easy for babies — they’re hooked up to devices and monitors, and they often can’t have much human contact.

When they’re developing in the womb, babies are safe and comfortable, but when they’re in the NICU, they’re scared, vulnerable, and lonely.

Flickr / The Hudson Family

Babies in the NICU stay in incubators, which are clear plastic beds.

The incubators protect them from noise and germs, while also keeping them warm.

Incubators also cut the babies off from other people, which is necessary for their development, but hard for both the baby and the parent.

Poole Hospital

When doctors told Kat Smith they wanted to put crocheted octopus toys in the incubators with Amber and Jasmine, she was more than willing to try it.

“These octopi are linked to better health and wellbeing,” the hospital stated in a press release. “It is thought the tentacles remind babies of the umbilical cord, and being in their mother’s womb, making them feel safer.”

Flickr /

The benefits of the crocheted octopi don’t end with the babies’ comfort and emotional well-being. Doctors have seen positive effects on their physical health as well.

“The unique idea originates from a hospital in Denmark where they found the octopi comforted babies and calmed them,” the press release said.

“This promoted better breathing and more regular heartbeats as well as higher levels of oxygen in their blood. They also found that babies cuddling an octopus were less likely to try to pull out their monitors and tubes.”

Poole Hospital

When the hospital saw the positive benefits of the crocheted octopi, they put out a call for more — and the public has definitely delivered.

Daniel Lockyer, matron of neonatal services, said in another press release, “We’ve now received more than 200 octopi — a year’s supply — ready and waiting for our little patients, so we’re not looking for any more for the time being.”

Poole Hospital

“Parents are telling us their babies seem calmer with an octopi friend to keep them company so we’re looking forward to continuing with the project in the future.”

It’s inspiring that this incredibly simple addition to the babies’ incubators makes such a huge impact on their health.

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