You might have seen premature and newborn babies holding a crochet octopus with their hands. These cuties help them feel safe in a world completely new to them. ¿Would you like to knit an octopus for babies? ¿Do you want to find out why is an octopus so important for a premature or newborn baby? This is for you.
Even if you are a complete beginner to knitting, there’s no reason to panic. You’ll be able to start making one yourself by the end of this post. You’ll read about the materials you need and the best video tutorials with step-by-step instructions. Lastly, you will have access to free patterns to knit an octopus for premature babies.
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Why an octopus and not a horse?
Babies grab the octopus tentacles as they used to grab the umbilical cord when they were in the womb. If the mother keeps the octopus close to her skin for some hours (and even a day or two), the octopus will smell like her. For this reason, it provides relaxation and a sense of security to the baby as he will remind the time in the womb. When the octopus smells like the other parent, it will help strengthen the bond between them too. This is especially important for babies that are hospitalised.
The original idea started in Denmark in February 2013. A group of volunteers started the Danish Octo Project creating colourful octopus for premature babies. These were donated to families with preemies in the neonatal departments of hospitals. Since then, the project has been well established all over the world, in countries like Norway, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Australia and the United States.
First things first: what do I need?
Before starting with the tutorials, let’s see what materials you will need to make an octopus for babies:
Cotton yarn (100% cotton only): use your creativity! You can make an octopus as colourful (or monochromatic) as you wish. This pack of 100% cotton assorted colours yarn has really lovely colours to combine as you wish.
Stuffing: fibre filling is the best option. It has to be washable at 60ºC. The octopus will need to be washed before use to reduce the risk of infections. This super soft high-quality polyester fill is washable up to 95 degrees.
Crochet hook: size 3 or 3,5 millimeter
You can get all the above crochet materials with a crochet set. This includes most knitting supplies you’ll probably need for the rest of your life. Seriously, these sets include so much stuff! You’ll find 53 pieces, including 16 different crochet hooks, a couple of line counters (really useful!), scissors, sewing needles, colour markers and much more. All kept tidy in the storage bag it comes with.
If you’ve got everything: let’s start!
How do I make an octopus for babies?
If you are new to crochet or amigurumis a visual guide is probably the best way to learn how to make a DIY octopus for babies. Also if you are a visual learner (like me), a video might be what you need to do a super cute octopus without too much trouble.
The following tutorial on Youtube by Bella Coco has two parts. It’s really detailed and easy to follows. It will show you exactly what you need to do step by step. You won’t be lost at all!
Where can I get a free pattern?
If you have crocheted or practised amigurumi before and/or you prefer written instructions, this section is for you.
There are many free octopus patterns available on the internet. I’ll tell you about two of the best ones – without subscriptions or a single penny required!
The creators of the Octo Project share the original pattern on their website. It is available in multiple languages, so if English isn’t your first language have a little look to find your preferred one. At the end of the pdf document you can find the patterns for adding accessories to your octopus, such as flowers or hats. Cuteness overload!
Another free octopus pattern is created by Bella Coco (yes, the same lovely octopus from the video tutorials!). Absolutely free and available on her website.
Octopus for babies in the UK: can I help?
Definitely! Little babies and their families will be forever grateful.
Octopus for a Preemie is a registered UK charity. You can support them by knitting octopuses, donating funds or materials, or sponsoring them. However, please note they only accept specific yarn and stuffing approved on their Facebook Group (you can find the list of items under ‘Files’).
Octopus for babies in Spain: can I help?
If you live in Spain and would like to help, read this article in Spanish to find out the main organisations you can support.