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)
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.
Plain & Purl
All the materials and tools you may need for this project can be found at Plain & Purl at 6th Avenue Shopping Centre on the corner of Heugh Road and 6th Avenue in Walmer.