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Mom Shares The Emotional Significance Of Octopus Toys For NICU Infants
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Mom Shares The Emotional Significance Of Octopus Toys For NICU Infants

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Sometimes little babies get so excited to meet their parents that they come into this world way too early. Behind this beautiful tale hide fear, worries and countless prayers for a miracle from parents of a preemie baby. Watching your child fight for their life in a spaceship-like incubator is a terrifying experience, and that’s why a lot of people – doctors, nurses and even strangers – come together to help them as much as they can. For example, people who knit adorable octopus plushies – toys with a very important purpose.

More info: Instagram

NICU mom shared a meaning behind these adorable octopus plushies

Image credits: octo4apreemieus

Welcoming a child is an exciting time for any family – getting baby stuff, imagining important milestones, wondering who’s eyes they are going to inherit. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, little ones show up too early; instead of growing safely in mum’s belly, they must fight for their lives on this side. Many of them are too small for newborn clothes and too fragile to hold. A lot of preemies have to be intubated, have many wires sticking out of them – an experience painful and terrifying to an adult, let alone a tiny baby who weights the same as a coconut.

According to one source, around 13.4 million babies were born prematurely in 2020. That’s a lot of little fighters out there who need a lot of help. It is proven that skin-on-skin contact is essential for newborns – it helps them to bond with parents and for baby to feel safe being able to smell their mummy. However, preemies are too fragile for that – they are all alone in their incubators. To help them feel less lonely, they are given teddies or blankies that smell like their mom – it helps them calm down and feel safer while they grow and gain their strength.

Usually, children are given teddy bear plushies, so it would be natural to see one guarding their little one. But, as it turns out, adorable octopuses are kids’ best friends! One mom posted on Tiny Hearts Education Instagram a heartwarming meaning behind these octopi plushies. Crafted with love and positive thoughts – those definitely help – by various charities and groups such as Octopus for a Preemie, these toys emulate the feel of an umbilical cord through their soft tentacles.

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Image credits: teammemphiswilliam

Knitted with love and care by various organizations, these toys help newborns feel safer – their tentacles resemble an umbilical cord

Image credits: gomarshall0219

They prevent infants from pulling on cords and wires, preventing injuries

Image credits: octo4apreemieus

Octopuses are placed in the incubators within infants’ reach, allowing them to grasp onto the tentacles just like they would hold onto the umbilical cord in the womb. “This teddy is designed to mimic the experience of grabbing their cord while growing inside the mother’s womb,” the mom explained on Instagram. Not only does it remind them of a safe environment but also prevents babies from pulling on cords and wires, saving them from serious injuries and discomfort.

In her post that shows an adorable infant gripping tightly onto the tentacles, she emphasizes the importance of these plushies. The kind mom shared that parents who are expecting preterm births can request one. They can then hold it close so the octopus will smell like the baby’s parents, providing comfort and hopefully going home with the infant as a reminder that they made it.

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Image credits: Calvary Hobart – Maternity

Parents are encouraged to hold the plushie close to infuse it with their scent, which helps preemies feel safer

Image credits: octo4apreemieus

Image credits: octo4apreemieus

On top of all the worries and troubles that come with premature birth, a lot of moms feel horrible mama guilt. In the post, the NICU mama reflected on her own emotions that overflowed when she had to leave her child in the neonatal intensive care unit immediately after birth. She noted that plushies helped her to deal with this guilt and offered solace in the knowledge that a part of her was with her little one even when they were apart.

This sentiment resonated with many people in the comments who share their experience in NICU. It was hard to keep a dry eye reading about the trials and tribulations of such an ordeal. Fortunately, most of the stories had happy endings – some of the preemies are happy and rambunctious toddlers by now and some already have children of their own. Parents expressed their gratitude to those who provided their infants with plushies – a symbol of hope in the dark times.

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Image credits: octo4apreemieus

Octopus plushies are not just toys – they are a symbol of hope

Image credits: octo4apreemieus

Other commenters were asking for knitting patterns for such toys, showing interest in making them for their local NICU units. Many of the adults would happily take on all the troubles and pains of little babies and while they can’t do that, they would pour all their love into the toys. We can bet that there is no better feeling than hearing that the octopus you made is accompanying its new owner home.

It might seem a simple toy, but to those battling unfavorable odds it is way more than that. Octopus toys are held close to a worried mom’s heart and infused with her scent – she holds it close imagining the day she’ll be able to hold her preemie without fear. Tiny infants hold onto it tightly, proving just how much they are ready to fight for their lives. And those who make them share the best bits of humanity. It is not but a simple toy – it is a testament that being human is a wonderful and compassionate experience and there is so much more light in the world than there is darkness.

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Do you have any NICU stories to share?

People in the comments were sharing their heartwarming NICU stories

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Margo Butautaite

Margo Butautaite

Author, BoredPanda staff

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Sometimes the world can be a dark place but you just how to know where to look for some good news. Hint: take a garner at my profile. I write about happy things like dogs, good teachers and inspiring elderly people.

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Margo Butautaite

Margo Butautaite

Author, BoredPanda staff

Sometimes the world can be a dark place but you just how to know where to look for some good news. Hint: take a garner at my profile. I write about happy things like dogs, good teachers and inspiring elderly people.

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georgeduncan avatar
George D
Community Member
9 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Watching your child's little starfish hand grab and hold on to your finger has got to be one of the great experiences in life.

amylara avatar
wowbagger
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Small quibble: all the pictured ones are crocheted, not knitted. But still a lovely story.

jaden_stollenwerk avatar
Jaden Alexander
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Came to the comments to say that. One addition from me, learning to crochet is easier for most than learning to knit so people can make these themselves, either for their baby or to donate. Soft baby hats (which are so tiny for the little preemies) are also always appreciated.

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georgeduncan avatar
George D
Community Member
9 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Watching your child's little starfish hand grab and hold on to your finger has got to be one of the great experiences in life.

amylara avatar
wowbagger
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Small quibble: all the pictured ones are crocheted, not knitted. But still a lovely story.

jaden_stollenwerk avatar
Jaden Alexander
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Came to the comments to say that. One addition from me, learning to crochet is easier for most than learning to knit so people can make these themselves, either for their baby or to donate. Soft baby hats (which are so tiny for the little preemies) are also always appreciated.

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