A stuffed animal is the standard gift for a brand new babe – but these cuddly sea creatures are much more than just sentimental playthings.
New research reveals that premature babies adjusting to the physiological demands outside the womb can be helped by crocheted octopuses.
According to the Poole Hospital in Dorset, the incredible idea was birthed in Denmark, where researchers discovered the regulating, soothing effects of octopus ‘lovies’ on preemies: those babies that snuggled up alongside the soft companions inside their incubators had more regular heartbeats, better breathing, and higher levels of oxygen in their blood – they were also less likely to pull out their monitors and tubes.
So what is it about these 8-legged friends? The tentacles of the octopus apparently remind the babies of mum’s umbilical cord, and the soft knitted bodies mimic the cosiness of her womb.
Poole Hospital has since started an octopus gifting project; each preemie family in the hospital will receive a gift-wrapped octy, along with a special card explaining its use and care instructions.
“When we heard about the difference a cuddly octopus can make to our tiny babies we were impressed and, after research, eager to introduce them to our little patients,” Daniel Lockyer, a neonatal services matron at the hospital, says. “It’s incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better.”
The hospital is also accepting donations – see the crochet pattern here. Each octopus will be sterilised before handing them over to cuddle.
Crocheted octopuses can be delivered to the reception area of the hospital’s maternity unit.
None of the healthcare practitioners mentioned in this blog endorse Infacol or any other medicine.