Irish hospital appeals for knitted octopus toys for premature babies

Wool at the ready...

A hospital in Co Antrim has issued a public appeal for people who can knit or crochet to make special octopus toys for babies in its neonatal unit.

Unison Causeway branch are asking people to make the toys that will be donated to the unit at Antrim Hospital.

The octopus toy is believed to be of extra comfort to premature babies as the tentacles remind them of the umbilical cord and being inside the mother's womb.

It also helps to prevent the babies from touching or trying to pull out their tubes as they have something to keep their hands busy.

If you think you can help simply knit or crochet the toy following the pattern which can be found here.

International success

The initiative was also recently launched in Curitiba Maternity Hospital in Brazil. Nurses saw a marked improvement in babies following their introduction.

Neonatal care coordinator Ana Bruno Salles said: "We only just started trialling the idea of placing knitted octopuses into all our incubators with our preterms and we've already started to see the difference.

"The babies snuggle up to the octopus as if they are still in the womb and surrounded by water. In the incubator, this sensory mantel is lost.

"The crochet octopus gives them a form of physical contact which brings back comforting memories and distracts them."