New research from Denmark has inspired the Poole Hospital in Dorset, England to try something new in the fight to help premature babies thrive and grow. One of the main concerns was finding a way to help preemies feel safe, which allows them to gain strength quicker. It turns out that a small, crocheted octopus fills that need in a stunning way!
Kat Smith, a mother with two premature daughters, was the first to try out the program’s new method.
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,” said the neonatal services matron, Daniel Lockyer, at Poole Hospital.
Why does it work? The crocheted legs of the octopus are very similar to the umbilical cord that the infants remember from their mother’s womb. Babies sometimes “play” with their umbilical cord, and frequently grab onto the octopus’ legs since they are the same shape and size. The research found that babies experienced better breathing, steadier heartbeats, and higher levels in oxygen as a result of cuddling with the octopus tentacles. Babies were also less likely to pull at their tubs and monitors if they had the option of the soft tentacle.
When they are asleep they hold onto the tentacles tightly,” Kat said.
The hospital is looking for more crochet octopuses, and even have a preferred pattern.