Octopus teddies aren’t just cute. They have a purpose for premature babies

The mum of a premature baby has explained why a seemingly innocuous soft toy is so much more than just a cute crib decoration.

Taking to the Tiny Hearts Education Instagram page, the mum shared a picture of a premature baby holding on to the tentacle of a crocheted green toy octopus.

“Octopus teddies aren’t just cute; they have a purpose,” the mum wrote.

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“And I wish I had known about these when (daughter) Nahla was taken to NICU straight after birth.

“Small octopuses and jellyfish are knitted by groups such as Octopuses for a Preemie in such a way that the tentacles feel like an umbilical cord.

“The octopuses are placed in incubators or cots with preterm bubs, allowing them to grab onto the tentacles.

“While (in utero), bubs grab their cord, which this teddy is designed to mimic.

“As a result, bubs will leave their cords, monitoring lines and wires alone because they’re too busy holding the tentacles.”

The mum went on to offer some advice for others who knew their babies would be born preterm.

“If you know your bub will be born preterm … you can ask for one of these teddies and pop it down your shirt,” she wrote.

“This is to make the teddy smell like you, which will then stay with bub after they’re born and go home with them after discharge.”

She said the hardest thing about having a premature baby was leaving her little girl in the hands of someone else.

A premature baby with a crocheted toy octopus. Credit: Instagram/Tiny Hearts Education

“My heart ached that I couldn’t be right beside her every second, singing to her and holding her hands,” she wrote.

“So having something like this that would’ve smelt like me and given her comfort would’ve improved my mama guilt dramatically by knowing that, even though we weren’t together, a little piece of me was still right there with her.

“Plus, it’s also a nice little keepsake to show them when they’re all grown up.”

From the Octopuses for a Preemie US site. Credit: Instagram/@octo4apreemieus

Followers loved the suggestion, with some thanking the writer for the advice and others sharing their own stories about the toy octopus.

“We had our twins go into NICU and I wish they had something like this,” one follower wrote.

“Aaaaw wish I known this when my son was born,” added another.

“My son received one in PICU after his open heart surgery, so precious, we have it away in his keepsake box ❤️💙,” one person wrote.

“’Blob Blob’ is still a treasured companion for my 3yo NICU babe. Very special,” noted another.

A baby with a toy octopus. Credit: Facebook/Octopus for a Preemie Australia

“My 29 weeker had one. It’s in his keepsake box, and will be forever treasured,” wrote a third.

“When I had my premmie daughter the hospital gave her one. I still have it,” wrote another.

One follower asked if the toy octopus could be a SIDS hazard.

Several others noted the toys were only recommended for NICU babies, who were monitored round the clock.

“These are for babies that are in NICU that are monitored 24/7 by ICU nurses and where vital sign monitoring at all times,” one person wrote.

“So are absolutely not a SIDS risk 🥰.”

File image of a premature baby in NICU. Credit: Nenov/Getty Images

One mum agreed that the toy octopus could be a comfort to both the baby and the parents.

“Mum of two micro premmies here and both of my boys loved their octopuses,” she wrote.

“And sometimes us NICU mums just need the comfort of them having something because you can’t be with them 24/7.”

“This is so beautiful, more people should know about it,” added another.

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