Baby Octopus Saves Preemies


DALLAS, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) — About four million babies are born in the U.S. every year, and one in ten, or about 400,000 American babies will need neonatal intensive care. Premature babies often need feeding and breathing tubes, which they tend to pull out. Now there’s an innovative and simple way to deal with it.

Baby Anthony was born at 25 weeks, a micro-preemie weighing only one pound two ounces. Now, he’s up to two pounds seven ounces, thanks to good care in the NICU, and a special friend.

“Now, Anthony has something to grab onto,” father Anthony Flores explained.

Mother, Marissa Flores agreed, “Yeah, he wants to always pull the tubes out. So him being able to grab on the tentacles is just you know, comforting to him.”

“The natural instinct is for the baby to grasp something, and so when they’re grasping it, it makes them feel like they’re holding onto the umbilical cord. Instead of grabbing hold of their breathing tube and pulling, they can grab hold of the tentacle of the octopus and just kind of hold onto that.” Keri Spillman, BSN, RNC-NIC, Clinical Supervisor NICU at Medical City Alliance explained. (Read Full Interview)

“Octopus for a Preemie” started in Denmark and is spreading across the United States. Volunteers crochet the developmental tools to exact specifications to prevent choking and strangulation. A mother sleeps with the octopus first.

Marissa said, “I love it. I held him for the first time after 24 days yesterday and so he was able to you know smell my scent.”

Spillman continued, “So they can smell their mom, they feel the tentacle, they feel at peace and it helps them calm down. Because our babies are continuously monitored until the moment they go home, that’s why it’s okay for us to leave the octopus in the bed with the child, but we do not recommend they’re left in the bed once the child goes home.”

The Flores’ plan to keep it as a reminder and a keepsake for Anthony.

Marissa stated, “It’s his little friend, you know.”

Octopus for Preemies is a growing trend, worldwide. Parents should never allow their babies to handle the crocheted octopus without supervision. For more information log on to Facebook and search for the group page “Octopus for a Preemie, U.S.”

Contributors to this news report include: Don Wall, Field Producer; Mark Montgomery, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at:





REPORT:         MB #4343

BACKGROUND: Newborn babies who require immediate and intensive medical attention are sometimes admitted into a special area of the hospital known as the NICU or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. NICUs may also have intermediate or continuing care for those babies who are no longer as sick but do need specialized nursing and care. Most babies born before 37 weeks (referred to as premature), those with low birth weight (under 5.5 lbs), or have medical conditions are those that require NICU admission. There are many, many factors that can place a baby at high risk and increase chances of being admitted, some high-risk factors include maternal factors such as drug or alcohol exposure, hypertension, bleeding or sexually transmitted disease. Delivery factors include but are not limited to breech delivery position, nuchal cord, or cesarean delivery. Finally, baby factors may be seizures, hypoglycemia, birth defects, birth weight or birth at gestational age less than 37 weeks or more than 42 weeks.


TREATMENT: Ten to 15 percent of all newborn babies require NICU care. Depending on each patient’s needs, care is adjusted to fit them personally. They may need immediate drying and warming after delivery, so a heat lamp or over-bed warmer may be required. Other possibilities for treatment include an open bed with a radiant warmer, and even an incubator. They need proper nutrition and fluids, and may be placed on an IV. They might be gavage or tube fed if they cannot feed from the breast or bottle. Testing and lab work such as drawing blood or frequent exams and monitoring can help check progress and make sure they are improving. Medications and fluids are also often given through their veins or arteries, so they may be attached to intravenous lines or tubes, even possible an umbilical catheter.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: While in the NICU, some babies will move around and grab at their tubes, cords, and things that they are hooked up to because they feel unsafe. This can cause complications and possibly result in injury or worse. Now, a new product that started in Denmark and moved across Europe is making its way to NICUs in America. It is a crotcheted baby octopus that mimics a mother’s umbilical cord which the babies like to grab for security. They are crotcheted to exact size specifications to ensure they will not get tangled and become a choking hazard. The mother sleeps with it first so it picks up the mothers scent, and then it is placed with the baby so they can smell her and feel the tentacle and feel at peace, helping them calm down.

(Source: Keri Spillman, BSN, RNC-NIC)


Matthew Eiserloh

Facebook: Octopus For A Preemie – US

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Keri Spillman, BSN, RNC-NIC

Read the entire Q&A