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How To Crochet An Octopus For A Preemie

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In this post, find out all you need to know about how to crochet an octopus for a preemie.

Recently I read about the wonderful people who are volunteering to crochet octopuses for preemies.

This is an ongoing project, where many more toys are needed across the globe.

More Volunteers are needed to crochet small octopuses for local Newborn Infant Care Units (NICU).

How-To-Crochet-An-Octopus-For-A-Preemie

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So, what do octopuses have to do with preemies?

“The purpose of the crocheted octopuses is to promote comfort and development for the pre-term babies while in the hospital.
The tentacles of the soft octos mimic the feel of the umbilical cord in their tiny hands and have been found to soothe the babies and help prevent them from pulling on wires and tubes.”
— Octopus for a Preemie-US Project Ambassador Randi Palm of Lonsdale

crochet octopus for a preemieImage via Poole Hospital.

This project has been popular in Europe since 2013, it has recently started to take fruition in the United States.

“Since this is so new we are in desperate need of people to crochet our little octopuses, all of them would stay local.”
— Octopus for a Preemie-US Project Ambassador Randi Palm of Lonsdale

How to crochet an octopus for a preemie

Additionally, Poole Hospital in Dorset, England, has read about the idea and started not only doing it but also spreading the news of the wonderful effect the octopuses have on preemies.

“It’s incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better. We’re very grateful for all donations and we’re sure the families who use our service will be too. ”
— Daniel Lockyer, the neonatal services matron at Poole Hospital.

premature-baby-octopus-stuffed-toyImage via Bournemouth Echo.

Crochet Octopus Donations

If you would like to get involved and receive more information on specifics for crocheting an Octopus for a Preemie, take a look at the Facebook pages below. 

Facebook pages have also been set up at Octopus for a Preemie – (US) / Octopus for a preemie (UK).

Please check that your octos will meet the requirements before you start crocheting.

octopus_for_premature_babyImage from cells4life.com

Crochet An Octopus Toy To Give Comfort To Premature Babies

This amazing idea of giving preemies a crochet octopus originally started in Denmark where doctors observed premature babies with their crocheted octos.

The babies that cuddled their octopus had overall health improvements with their breathing, regular heartbeat, strong oxygen blood levels, and were less bothered by the various monitors and IVs.

To most people’s surprise, the crochet octos had a calming effect on the babies.

premature babies with crochet octosImage via Poole Hospital.

Calling All Crocheters

One of the moms whose twin girls were given octos had this to say >

“One of the nurses brought in the octopus and explained the idea.
The girls absolutely love them. When they are asleep they hold onto the tentacles tightly.
Normally they would be in the womb and would play with the umbilical cord so the octopuses make them feel grounded and safe.”
— Kat Smith

Crochet octopus Image Source – Tiny Babies

Octopus Crochet Pattern (UK Terms)

This pattern is from the website Octopus For A Preemie UK where you will find many free octopus crochet patterns in both US and UK terms and information on how to donate your finished creations.

If you’re a crocheter and feel inspired to make an octopus for a baby in need the hospitals that are taking donations would love your assistance as it’s their goal to give every premature baby an octopus of their very own.

crochet octopus fo a preemie projectImage Source – Kidspot

Make A Crochet Octopus For Premature Babies

Please note >

**Please be aware that the octos featured in this post should meet the standards required by the people campaigning.**

For further information please visit >>

Facebook page at Octopus for a Preemie – (US) / Octopus for a preemie (UK).

Check out the requirements for donations and other information there.

octopus-for-a-preemieImage Source – My Nomad Home

**Do not make these to give to other babies or young children as the tentacles may pose as a choking hazard.

Please use common sense when making and giving these octos.**

The pattern is fairly straight forward and even if you are new to crochet, you will be able to make one.

The pattern will help you to crochet a circle, decrease and how to make the twirly octopus legs.

You may also like this Crochet Octopus Pattern.

crochet octopus for a preemie patternImage Source – BBC Radio 4

Yield: Crochet Octopus

How To Crochet An Octopus For A Preemie

How to crochet an octopus for a preemie

If you’re a crocheter and feel inspired to make an octopus for a baby in need the hospitals that are taking donations would love your assistance as it’s their goal to give every premature baby an octopus of their very own.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 3 hours
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy/beginner
Estimated Cost $10

Materials

  • Cotton yarn - it has to be 100% cotton!
  • 4ply cotton is recommended.

Tools

  • Crochet hook size 2mm (US 0) and 3mm (US C/2), use 3mm for tentacles (optional).
  • Stuffing: Fibre filling – has to be washable at 60 degrees Celsius, we recommend “supreme toy filling” which can be bought on eBay and Amazon.
  • Tapestry needle, to embroider the face, and to use it to sew on the bottom.

Instructions

Body >

Working in continuous rounds: Using a 2mm hook.

  1. 1 st round: 6 sc in a magic ring
  2. 2 nd round: 2 sc in each st (12 sts)
  3. 3 rd round: *1 sc, 1 inc* x 6 (18 sts)
  4. 4 th round: *2 sc, 1 inc* x 6 (24 sts)
  5. 5th round: *3 sc, 1 inc* x6 (30 sts)
  6. 6 th round: *4 sc, 1 inc* x 6 (36 sts)
  7. 7 th round : *5 sc, 1 inc* x 6 (42sts)
  8. 8 th – 16th round: 1 sc in each st (42 sts)
  9. 17th round: *5 sc, 1 dec* x 6 (36 sts)
  10. 18th – 19th round: 1 sc in each st (36 sts)
  11. 20th round: *4 sc, 1 dec* x 6 (30 sts)
  12. 21st – 22nd round: 1 sc in each st (30 sts)
  13. 23rd round: *3 sc, 1 dec* x 6 (24 sts)
  14. 24th – 25th round: 1 sc in each st (24 sts) Start stuffing the body, will fill it completely later.
  15. 26th round: *2 sc, 1 dec* x 6 (18 sts)
  16. 27th round: *7 sc, 1 dec* x 2 (16 sts)
  17. 28th round: 1 sc in each st (16 sts)

There are 3 ways to finish the Octopus >

1. The first way to finish the octopus > (recommended for beginners)

Fill Octopus firmly.

Make a bottom and attach the bottom using round 29 >

29th round: work 1dc in each st around (16sts) change to 3mm hook if wishing thicker tentacles, stay with 2mm if wanting slim ones.

This is where the tentacles start:

*1 sc, chain around 50 – chain until you have a 22cm long chain, turn, 2 sc in each chain, make sure to use the top loop for the tentacle to curl.

1 sc in the next st of the body.

1sc and then chain again.

2. The second way to finish the octopus >

On round 28 change to 3mm hook if wishing thicker tentacles, stay with 2mm if wanting slim ones.

This is where the tentacles start – to make tentacles use only the front loops of each of the stitches:

*1 sc, chain around 50 – chain until you have a 22cm long chain, turn, 2 sc in each chain, make sure to use the top loop for the tentacle to curl.

1 sc in the next st of the body.

1sc and then around 50 chains again.

Make bottom and sew to the body using the back loops stitches and the same yarn.

3. The third way to finish the octopus >

On round 28 change to a 3mm hook if wishing thicker tentacles, stay with 2mm if wanting slim ones.

This is where the tentacles start – to make tentacles use only the front loops of each of the stitches:

*1 sc, chain around 50 – chain until you have a 22cm long chain, turn, 2 sc in each chain, make sure to use the top loop for the tentacle to curl.

1 sc in the next st of the body.

1sc and then around 50 chains again.

29th round: close body using decrease.

Bottom >

  1. 1 st round: 5 sc in a magic ring.
  2. 2 nd round: 2 sc in each stitch (10 stitches).
  3. 3 rd round: *1sc, 1inc* x 5 (15 stitches) End with a sl st, cut the yarn but leave enough to sew on to the body.

Assembling the octo: Embroider eyes and mouth in your preferred design.

Notes

Abbreviations

sc – single crochet

st – stitch

sts – stitches

ch – chain

inc – 2 sc in 1 stitch to increase

sl st – slip stitch

dec – decrease by crocheting *…* – repeat the next 2 sc together

The size of the finished octopus > 

Head MUST have a min diameter of 3.5 cm and a length of 3.5 – 8cm from top to bottom when stuffed.

Tentacles: Head length 3.5 – 5cm: 10 – 16cm tentacles / Head length 5 – 8cm: 16 – 22cm tentacles.

Stuff the body firmly, but not solid.

Must have a little spring to it.

Please note >

**Please be aware that the octos featured in this post should meet the standards required by the people campaigning.**

**Do not make these to give to other babies or young children as the tentacles may pose as a choking hazard. Please use common sense when making and giving these octos.**

Here are some of the most FAQ from the Crochet Octopus For A Preemie Website - you can read more here.

  • What kind of yarn can I use for making the octopuses?

The hospitals only accept octopuses made with 100% cotton yarn (the best choice is 120-180 meters/50 gram) – if an octopus is made with acrylic yarn little fibres might appear which could get into the children’s eyes and mouth and cause harm.

  • Is my octopus too big or too small?

The octopuses should be smaller than we could think. Premature babies very often lie among different tubes and equipment in small incubators which is why the octopus comforters have to be so small.

The size of the octopus’s head should be 3.5-8cm long and have a minimum diameter of 3.5cm.

Tentacles should be 10-16cm long for octopuses with heads 3.5-5cm long and 16-22cm long for octopuses with heads 5-8cm long.

  • What type of filling should be used?

Synthetic filling (silicone ball) which can be washed in 60⁰C. Stuffing octopuses with cotton-wool or ends of yarn are not accepted (this type of filling forms lumps after washing).

Remember to stuff the octopus full so that it saves its shape after washing.

  • Is using safe eyes, buttons or beads safe?

We recommend crochet or embroidered eyes or leaving the faces blank.

Do not use any safe eyes or buttons etc.

Who is responsible for washing the octopuses?

Every mom gets the instruction of how the octopus should be washed (60⁰C using antiallergic washing liquid). The person making the octopus does not have to wash it.

  • What to do when tentacles are not twisted much?

It does not matter how much tentacles are twisted.

Moreover, it is better when tentacles are twisted only a little bit otherwise it can be too thick for little fingers to catch.

For the safety reasons, it is very important the stretched tentacles are not longer than 22cm.

  • Are there any colours which I should avoid?

We ask that you avoid making octopuses out of solid red or black colours, as red can be mistaken for blood or make it difficult for nurses to see whether babies are bleeding and black can overstimulate the babies.

  • Is my octopus crocheted too loose or too tightly?

It is very important not to crochet too loose not to lose the filling.

The stitch should not create any little holes especially after stuffing the octopus.

Every part of the octopus should be firmly sewn.

Any loose yarn ends should not be visible.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram


More Crochet Octopus Free Patterns

Below are free crochet patterns that will help to get you started!

1. A wonderful free octopus crochet pattern from mynomadhome.com.

octopus-for-a-preemie

2. The image below is from the Octopus For A Preemie US Facebook Page.

Crochet octopusAre you going to make one or more of these to send?

Let me know in the comments below.

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19 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to start making these and get in touch with where I can donate them. My best friend from Highschool delivered her daughter at 27 weeks and I spent some time with them in the NICU. It’s an unbelievable place that I would love to be able to give each and every baby a little love. If this is how I can do it, I’m ALL FOR IT!!!! Thank you for sharing this free pattern and the information!

  2. What a unique and wonderful idea. My grandkids (twins) were 32 week preemies. They get great care in the NICU.

  3. Hi my name is DeeDee and I would love to start making these. This is such a fantastic idea. How do I find out where the nearest place to donate these. I live in southern California

  4. Hello, my name isCarlene. My first grandson started his life in the NICU at Storment-Vail hospital in Topeka Kansas, I wish I would have known about this. I have begun crocheting these octopus and I would like to know where I can donate them. I live in Leavenworth, Ks. These are very easy and fun to make.

    1. Hello,

      If you would like to get involved and receive more information on specifics for crocheting an Octopus for a Preemie, contact Octopus for a Preemie-US Project Ambassador Randi Palm of Lonsdale by calling 612-232-0111 (in the US) or email her at randi56071@yahoo.com. Facebook pages have also been set up at Octopus for a Preemie – (US) / Octopus for a preemie (UK).

      There is also a list of hospitals in the US taking donations on this blog;
      https://abeautifulfriendship.blog/2017/03/01/octopus-for-a-premie-usa/

      Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

  5. Hi Louise,
    love the project and I did one , and try to do more while improving the technique.
    I love octopuses as I dive close to them in Maldives once, and the idea that they could also help
    prematures somehow it looks fantastic!
    I do not usually write comments, but my name is Thelma so I need to let you know that I am
    here in London, crocheting octopuses !
    thanks and best regards

    1. Hi there, Thelma! Thank you so much for your comment, I am really happy that you wanted to leave a note here. I too am trying to improve my crochet knowledge, I am a beginner really and looking to get better this year. I want to master that popcorn/bobble stitch next, as my sister in law uses it all of the time to make chic little evening bags. I hope that London is treating you well and thank you for reading and getting involved with the octos for preemies project πŸ™‚

  6. Hi I’m going to try crochet this. Haven’t followed a crochet pattern before. I’m very much the amature at this.

  7. Making one now for my new great nephew who was born at 32 weeks on Christmas Day! I recall reading somewhere about them being washed in hot water. Are they washed before giving them to them babies?

  8. These are very cute, and the idea is nice. My twins were born in week 32, so when we got home from the hospital I researched the opportunity to give something back to the hospital. I like to crochet, so this would have been great. But I was told that they don’t accept these because of hygiene and the risk of illness. Everything the children have needs to be washed daily, including toys, and they can’t help with that at the hospital. So if someone sends these anyways they save them in a box and give them to the children when they can go home instead. I live in Sweden.

    1. Hello, thank you for sharing your own experience and leaving a comment, I would advise anyone who is making an Octo to donate to check all the requirements from the people who are campaigning or call their local hospital to see if they accept the donations. Thanks for visiting the blog πŸ™‚

  9. Friends have twin girls. Lost one at 22 weeks and the second was born at 23 weeks 5 days. 1 lb 10 oz.. gabe them an octopus. It is a bit bigger than her at the moment. The nurses have pit it in the incubator but away from where she can get to it for the moment. Almost 2 weeks old (25 weeks 3.days gestation), She has now opened 1 eye and weighs 1lb 13ozs. So tiny they didn’t have a cap small enough so one of the nurses knit one for her. Have a couple more for them.