According to the World Health Organisation , there are an estimated 15 million babies born ‘ preterm ’ each year . Many are severely affected due to complications from being born too early .
With premmies needing all the help they can get , specialists in Denmark discovered an exceedingly creative way to help newborns through the first tentative weeks of life .
The craft of crochet has enjoyed a return to popularity in recent years and one yarn animal in particular inspired the inception of the Danish Octo Project in 2013 . The crochet octopus has been found to calm and comfort newborns as they grasp the tentacles simulating the feeling of grasping the umbilical cord in utero . The added benefit is that it distracts them from grasping or pulling on any tubes or cords attached to monitors for crucial medical care .
The Danish Octo Project supplies crochet octopi to various neonatal departments in Denmark and Greenland . Since its inception it has also inspired volunteers in other countries to launch similar projects .
As well as the calm and comforting effect of the cuddly critters , premmie babies in neonatal departments using the technique have been found to have improved breathing and cardiac patterns , which in turn lead to increased levels of oxygen in the blood .
Whether you are old hat at crochet or it ’ s a craft you ’ ve been meaning to take up , the cuddly octopus is a great project to tackle . Even if you don ’ t have a premmie tot in mind , it could also make a great handmade , personalised gift for the baby shower of an expecting mum .
If you would like more information about the Danish Octo Project you can visit their website ( details below ) where you can find a free downloadable pattern to make your own crochet octopus .
The Danish Octo Project www . spruttegruppen . dk ( click on ‘ English ’ in the top right corner to read the English version of the site ) Kate Stitches Many thanks to Kate Stitches for the use of her photograph in this article . Please visit her blog where you can find the pattern to make your own crochet octopus . www . katestitches . com / octopus / Plain & Purl All the materials and tools you may need for this project can be found at Plain & Purl ( see their ad on page 20 )