10 Crochet Octopus Patterns to Make for Preemies

Colorful crochet octopuses with different hats and head accessories

My Nomad Home

Crochet octopus toys are the perfect plush item to comfort prematurely born babies who have to spend their first days of life in the NICU.

Not too many years ago, premature babies were placed in incubators and went without much human touch. Now we know that babies need the human touch to survive, thrive, and grow, especially in their earliest days of life. Failure to receive that all-important comfort can result in lifelong mental and physical health challenges. NICU rules have changed as a result. However, the babies there continue to need all of the comfort that they can get.

That's where the crochet octopus toys come in. In 2017, CNN reported on emerging research that preemie babies benefit from cuddling with these crochet toys in the NICU. The toys provide comfort to the babies, which is important not only for their mental health but also for their physical challenges. Preemie babies often struggle with issues related to breathing and feeding because their lungs and some other functions aren't fully developed, yet. Some research shows that babies cuddling crochet octopus toys saw improvement in breathing, as well as more regulated heartbeats, which improves oxygen levels and leads to overall better health.

You might ask why you can't just send any crochet toy to a preemie for cuddling. While certainly some cuddling is better than none, the crochet octopus has a feature that other toys don't have—tentacles. Doctors believe that the tentacles remind these young babies of the umbilical cord, which in turn reminds them of being in their mother's womb, creating a sense of safety. Babies holding these tentacles are not only calmer in general, but are also less likely to pull out their tubes and monitors.

If this warms your heart and you want to help, you'll find that many hospitals accept crochet octopus donations. You can check with your local hospital, or you may want to look into the Octopus for a Preemie organization. We've rounded up some of the best crochet octopus patterns to send to newborns. Remember to use baby-friendly yarn and safety eyes.