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Tentacles for tinies

Premature babies at Poole Hospital have a new best friend – a crochet octopus to cuddle up to in their incubators.

premature babies with octopus

While they may seem like an unlikely bedfellow for the babies on the neonatal unit these octopi are linked to better health and wellbeing. It is thought the tentacles remind babies of the umbilical cord, and being in their mother’s womb, making them feel safer.

Now the hospital is looking to catch more crochet octopi; enough for every baby on the unit to have one to snuggle and take home when they’re better. Each octopus will be packed into a special gift bag complete with a card about the project and offered to parents. They can be any colour and vary in size from small (for equally small babies) to large.

The unique idea originates from a hospital in Denmark where they found the octopi comforted babies and calmed them. 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.

Daniel Lockyer, neonatal services matron, said: “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.

"It’s incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better. We’re very grateful for all donations of crochet octopi and we’re sure the families who use our service will be too.”

Kat Smith, pictured above with daughters Jasmine and Amber, were among the first to benefit from the project.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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