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How to Help Preemies with Crochet and Tentacles

You’ll love this amazing way to help preemies with crochet: octopuses for preemies

octopi for preemies

When I first saw a photo of crocheted octopuses for preemies, I found it irresistible. I mean, take a look at that sweet, sleeping preemie cuddled up next to an octopus above. So precious, right?

Yet I wondered: although yarncrafted octopuses are absolutely adorable, are they honestly a good idea for preemies?

I really wanted a definitive answer before I could even think about recommending this project.

Researching Octopuses for Preemies

I entered “do octopuses really help preemies” into a search engine and began to read.

The first article I read came from a website called Babble. This article offered quotes from a mother of twin preemie girls. She said she could tell how much the crocheted octopuses she had received calmed her daughters.

The next article I read came from the website Always Ladies. It offered information about the research into benefits benefits of crocheted octopuses for preemies from Denmark.

To those that were given the octopuses improved breathing and cardiac patterns were observed and, as a result, increased 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.”

Finally, there’s this article from Essential Baby in Australia. Although it also repeats much of the same information, I loved seeing another preemie with his little octopus!

Why Are Octopuses for Preemies Beneficial?

After reading these articles, I feel pretty confident that these little crocheted octopuses do help preemies. That supposes that crocheted octopuses follow the proper guidelines. 

Obviously, a too-large octopus would be a problem, as would be too-thick tentacles.

One common thread ran throughout the articles I read: the reason these loveys are beneficial to preemies. Researchers theorize that the tentacles of an octopus resemble the umbilical cord babies grip in utero.

Being able to grip umbilical cord-like tentacles appears to produce a calming effect in preemies.

Ready to Create OCTOPUSES for Preemies?

One of the wonderful qualities of most any preemie knitting or crochet project is that you can create them so quickly. Octopuses are no exception!

You can find the crocheted octopus pattern either on the Danish Octo Project website or on the My Nomad Project website.

On the Danish Octo Project site, you can download a PDF for easy access wherever you are. On the other hand, on the My Nomad Project site, you can find a fantastic list of groups all over the world where you can submit your finished octopus!

These groups carefully inspect donated octopuses to ensure that they are safe for preemies. They then submit the octopuses to hospitals in need. Doing this helps ensure that hospitals have just one person to deal with. It also ensures that hospitals receive only safe octopuses.

octopi for preemies

More Information from Octopus for a Preemie – US

I exchanged e-mails with the moderator Jessica Holmes of the Octopus for a Preemie – US group to get more information. Here’s what Jessica told me:

There are specific guidelines. The yarn must be 100% cotton, and the filling must be a hypoallergenic fiber-fill that can be washed at high temperatures. (Poly-fill works great.)

We have a list of approved yarns. But that list is continually growing as people across the country test yarns from their local shops to see how they hold up to the standards.

We do request that the pattern listed in our files is followed, but some deviation is accepted.  We have fairly strict guidelines, regarding size and stitch size.  The stitches must be very tight so no fiber-fill can escape and no tiny fingers can get stuck inside.  The sizing guidelines are listed on the pattern as well.

The photo with multiple octopuses is from Kendra Thomas and the one with the baby is from crocheter Ashley Gee.  The mom is Lindsey Davis and the baby is Lilah Schlappi.  Baby is 26 weeks.

octopi for preemies

**Please note: Many knitters (including me!) have attempted to create a knitted octopus that meets the exacting standards of Octopus for a Preemie. For some reason, knitting just doesn’t seem to produce a tight enough fabric.

So knitters, I’m so sorry, but this project will likely remain crochet-only. Perhaps this project will be the motivation you need to perfect your crochet skills!

Knitters, you can still knit for preemies! Check here for an assortment of ways you can knit to benefit preemies.

You can join the US group here; remember that you can find groups all over the world here.

Two things I love about this project are that it helps to save the lives of tiny babies, and it’s available all over the world. So if you’re ready to help preemies, wherever you are, why not consider making octopuses for preemies?

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  1. Hello I have a great granddaughter we is 24 weeks and would like to try and crochet her a octopus and if it works for her I would like to make this my mission.

  2. This is a great idea. I am going to knit these though, knitting tends to be tighter I find. Whatever works though. B)

  3. Where is a link to get the 🐙 if you are having premies? I’m in the hospital with preeclampsia at 29w and my twins are coming any day now. I’d love my babies to benefit from this program!

    1. Hello Amanda! If you are in the US, once your twins arrive you can send a message to Sharon (the adminstrator of the Octopus for a Preemie US Facebook group) to put in a special request. You can reach her Facebook profile and send her a direct message here. Note that they ask that special requests be made only for babies in the NICU, not those in utero. Good luck with your lovely twins! ❤

    1. I would love a knitted version myself, but it’s really hard. I’ve tried to design one myself, and getting knitted fabric to have the characteristics required by the group is REALLY tough. Maybe some knitting design genius will be able to figure it out someday. I hope so!

  4. Hi, I just wanted to thank you for getting the word out. I hope loads of knitters and crocheters join a facebook group and make octopuses.
    By the way, the plural of the word is octopuses, even if it sounds weird.

    1. Hi Dolores! Thanks for commenting. I hope the Facebook groups have seen an upsurge in interest since this was published.

      I did not know that was the proper plural for octopus! Is octopi correct at all, or have I been using a made-up word all my life? lol

      1. Both Octopi and Octopuses are correct when talking of the plural for Octopus, according to both the Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary. So both of you are correct, I guess it just depends on where and when you learnt it at school.
        Whatever is used, just want to say thanks for the info, what a wonderful thing we can do for these little ones and their families.

  5. I live in Canada and want to make preemie baby clothes for babies that pass on. I am in BC. Do you know of any that will take these clothes, or is there an organization that I can make them for.

    1. Hi Lynn! I don’t know of any charity that specifically takes such items in Canada. However, you might want to check out this organization: The Compassionate Friends of Canada. It’s an organization specifically for bereaved parents. They may be able to point you in the right direction. Good luck!

  6. Or they could take it home with them when they go. That way only the one baby touches it.

    1. I believe in most of these hospitals the octopus does indeed go home with the baby after s/he leaves the hospital.

  7. Hi,
    What a great idea.
    I couldn’t crochet,to save my life, but I can knit.So where is the pattern please?
    Thank you. 🙂

    1. Iceni, if you are in the U.S. you can join the U.S. Facebook group I linked to above, and you can access the knitting pattern in their files.

      If you live elsewhere, click here http://mynomadhome.com/the-octopus-for-a-preemie-project-a-list-of-countries-and-their-websites/ and find the group for your country. When you join the group for your country, you’ll be very likely to find the knitting pattern.

      If that’s not the case — if you join a group and discover they don’t have a knitting pattern – please e-mail me at NHaschke(at)www.knittingforcharity.com . I’ll get you hooked up. 🙂

    2. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I am waiting for a reply from the other end of Canada, doesn’t seem to be a group on the Prairies.So will wait and see.
      Thanks so much.
      Keep up the great work.

      1. There are some hospitals in the prairies however Canada does not yet have an approved knitting pattern as the stitches are hard to get tight enough with knitting.

  8. My niece is a NICU (neo natel intensive Care) nurse. She said their hospital doesn’t allow any stuffed animals as they cannot be kept germ free. Perhaps each hospital is different

    1. Hi Lori, yes, I would imagine each hospital is different. As I understand it, each Octopus for a Preemie group works with a set number of hospitals, and they invite other hospitals to request octopi as well. I do know that each group has very stringent procedures to ensure that the octopi doesn’t risk the preemies’ health in any way. Thanks for commenting!