PARENTS
02/06/2017 04:12 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2017

How This Crocheted Octopus Is Changing The Lives Of Preemies

The octopus' arms could remind babies of the umbilical cord and comfort them.

A hospital in England has changed the lives of its preemie patients with help from some crocheted octopus friends.

In November, Poole Hospital in Dorset, England, announced in a press release that its preemies were seeing beneficial effects from simply cuddling a crocheted octopus. Daniel Lockyer, matron of neonatal services at the hospital, said moms and dads are thrilled to see their preemies find comfort with the little aquatic pals.

“Parents are already 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,” Lockyer said.

Copyright Poole Hospital
Jasmine Smith and her octopus.

Rosie Ryves-Webb, Poole Hospital’s media and communications officer, told The Huffington Post the hospital decided to test the project after hearing about the effects other hospitals had seen with the crocheted design. The idea seems to have originated from “The Octo Project” in Denmark. 

According to Poole Hospital’s press release, the octopus’ arms remind preemies of the umbilical cord, which in turn reminds them of their mother’s womb, making them feel calm and comforted. Kat Smith, who welcomed her twins at the hospital at 28 weeks, seconded this sentiment and told the Bournemouth Daily Echo her girls “absolutely love” their octopus friends. 

“When they are asleep they hold onto the tentacles tightly,” she said. “Normally they would be in the womb and would play with the umbilical cord so the octopuses make them feel grounded and safe.”

Copyright Poole Hospital
Mom Kat Smith with her daughters, Jasmine and Amber, and their octopi.

When the hospital first announced it was using the crocheted toys, it shared the pattern for the octopus and requested donations for its preemies. They have since been overwhelmed with the response and have received more than 200 of the crocheted toys. The hospital is no longer looking for donations.

Lockyer said the hospital was eager to introduce the octopus toys and has been especially impressed with the impact they have made on the patients. 

“It’s incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better.”

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