As any family who has had a premature baby will be painfully aware, the period of time in between baby being born and being strong enough to go home is one of the most difficult periods a parent can go through.
So you’ll try anything which promises to make your baby’s life better while they’re in hospital – and, apparently, a toy octopus can work wonders.
Hospitals in the UK have started gifting knitted sea creatures to babies born prematurely so they can snuggle up in their incubators – and it’s helping their fight to become strong and healthy.
The logic behind it is that the tentacles remind baby of the umbilical cord and therefore makes them feel safe, as though they are in their mother’s womb.
The groundbreaking idea was first tried out in a hospital in Denmark where, according to the NHS, they found the octopi “comforted babies and calmed them.”
Benefits of this were better breathing and more regular heartbeats, which helped promote higher levels of oxygen in their blood.
Medical staff at the Danish hospital also found that if the babies were cuddling the octopus, they were less likely to try to pull out their monitors and tubes.
Poole Hospital is one establishment joining in with the initiative, and say they hope to crochet enough octopi so that every patient in their neonatal unit has one to snuggle with.
Parents receive a special gift bag complete with an octopus – which vary in size and colour – to snuggle with while they get strong and healthy.
Families can also take the toys home when they’re better, which gives mum and dad a nice memento to treasure (and we imagine baby will be quite attached to their teddy by then).
Daniel Lockyer, neonatal services matron at the hospital, 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.”