Crochet Octopus for Preemie Babies

Learn everything you need to know on how to crochet an octopus for preemie babies. Crochet octopuses are cute, fun to make, and will offer so much comfort to preemies and their families.

Crochet Octopus for Preemies - Raffamusa Designs

Why Crochet an Octopus for a Preemie?

Crocheted octopuses first became a thing in Denmark in 2013 with the Octo Project and their use in neonatal units has since spread internationally.

The concept is simple. The tentacles of the octopus resemble the umbilical cord, and cuddling with the octopus seems to calm and comfort preemie babies who are thus less likely to interfere with monitoring equipment. At the same time, crocheted octopuses also seem to reduce pain in preemies (see paper HERE).

While the medical benefits of holding the crocheted octopus (such as improved heart rate or oxygen saturation) still need further investigation, the satisfaction of the beneficiary families is overwhelmingly positive since it helps parents create a bond with their baby and start actively taking care of him/her.

Where to Donate Your Crochet Octopuses

The Octo Project started in Denmark but it is now found in many countries all over the world.

  • If you live in the US, you can check the Facebook group Octopus for a Preemie US for all the info.
  • If you’re not in the US, check this comprehensive list of organizations divided by country HERE.
Crochet Octopus for Preemies - Raffamusa Designs

The Essentials of a Crochet Octopus

When you start gathering information for making your octopus, you’ll see that many hospitals have specific and unique standards for the yarn you use, the length of the tentacles, the stuffing materials, eyes or no eyes, etc.

So, before you start crocheting your octopus for premature babies, it is extremely important that you check the quality standard required by the specific NICU you’re donating to or by the organization that manages the project.

But if you cannot find any specific guidelines, here are a few basic rules to keep in mind:

  • YARN – Only use 100% cotton.

Your donated octopus will have to withstand several cycles of washes at high temperatures, sometimes even 90°C (194°F). So, give your octopus a chance to survive the washing by using cotton yarn, and for a candy on top, check this very useful list HERE compiled by Octopus for a Preemie New Zeland where they go into detail on the different brands and even colors!

For the same reason (the high-temp washing), weave in all your ends securely, and consider avoiding eyes of any kind, even the embroidered ones because they might always come loose after many cycles in the washing machine.

  • SIZE – The head should be between 3″-3.5″ (8-9 cm) long and at least 6″ (15 cm) in circumference. The tentacles should be somewhere between 4.7″ and 7″ (12-18 cm) in length but possibly not longer than 8″ (20 cm) when fully extended.
  • STUFFING – Only use new, clean stuffing that can be washed at high temperatures.
  • TENSION – Crochet tightly so that no stuffing will come through the stitches.
Octopus for Preemie Babies - Free Crochet Pattern - Raffamusa Designs

Find more Amigurumi and baby toy patterns here on the blog…

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Octopus for Preemie Babies - Free Crochet Pattern - Raffamusa Designs

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Preemie Crochet Challenge 2024

The pattern of this octopus is featured in the Preemie Crochet Challenge 2024 hosted by Helen of Sunflower Cottage Crochet. This year marks a special milestone since the preemie challenge reached its fifth edition!

Preemie Crochet Challenge 2024

If you already participated in the previous editions of the challenge, you already know how it works. But if you’re new, here’s the gist of it:

  • The challenge will run from June 1st to June 30th
  • Each day, there will be a new design that you can get for free.
  • All patterns are for something you can crochet for premature babies (blankets, beanies, wearables, etc) and donate to families, hospitals, or charities.
  • Patterns will be either free for one day, until the end of the event, or forever free. You’ll have to check for each one.
  • When you get your free pattern, you automatically pledge to crochet one item following the pattern and donate it!

Take a look at all the designs included on the main roundup page of the Preemie Crochet Challenge 2024 HERE.

Sunflower Cottage Crochet - Roundup Button

Get the octopus pattern HERE or by clicking on the button below.

Sunflower Cottage Crochet - Download Button

Materials

  • DK (3, Light) Yarn
  • 3.0 mm (11 UK) Crochet Hook
  • Tapestry Needle
  • Cotton Stuffing for Amigurumi

Yarn & Yardage

I used 138-161 yds (126-147 m, 60-70 g) of Hobbii Rainbow Cotton 8/6 (50 g, 115 yds / 105 m) in color Apricot (65).

ABBREVIATIONS (US TERMS)

SPECIAL STITCHES

Back Loop Only (BLO) & Front Loop Only (FLO)
Learn how to crochet in the BLO and FLO HERE.

Increase (Inc)
One increase consists of 2 sts worked in the same indicated st.

Invisible Decrease (Inv Dec) See the tutorial HERE.

Magic Circle (MC) See the tutorial HERE.

Gauge

7 rounds in sc in 2″ (5 cm).

Size

8″ (20 cm) including the tentacles.

PATTERN NOTES

  • If the pattern says “sc 2”, you need to sc 1 in each of the next 2 sts.
  • (…) – Repeat the instructions within parenthesis for the indicated number of times.
  • *… – Repeat the instructions from * for the indicated number of times.
  • […] – Crochet the instructions within brackets all in the same indicated stitch.
  • Crochet in the round in a continuous spiral.
Crochet Octopus for Preemie Babies - Raffamusa Designs

Crochet Octopus Pattern for Preemie Babies

Crochet in the round in a continuous spiral.

With A, make a MC.

Round 1. Sc 6 in MC. (6 sts)

Round 2. Sc inc 6. (12 sts)

Round 3. (Sc inc 1, sc 1) 6 times. (18 sts)

Round 4. Sc 1, (sc inc 1, sc 2) 5 times, sc inc 1, sc 1. (24 sts)

Round 5. (Sc inc 1, sc 3) 6 times. (30 sts)

Round 6. Sc 2, (sc inc 1, sc 4) 5 times, sc inc 1, sc 2. (36 sts)

Round 7. (Sc inc 1, sc 5) 6 times. (42 sts)

Round 8. Sc 3, (sc inc 1, sc 6) 5 times, sc inc 1, sc 3. (48 sts)

Round 9. (Sc inc 1, sc 7) 6 times. (54 sts)

Rounds 10-19 (10 rounds). Sc around. (54 sts)

Round 20. (Inv dec 1, sc 7) 6 times. (48 sts)

Round 21-22 (2 rounds). Sc around. (48 sts)

Round 23. Sc 3, (inv dec 1, sc 6) 5 times, inv dec 1, sc 3. (42 sts)

Rounds 24-25 (2 rounds). Sc around. (42 sts)

Round 26. (Inv dec 1, sc 5) 6 times. (36 sts)

Round 27. Sc around. (36 sts)

Round 28. Sc 2, (inv dec 1, sc 4) 5 times, inv dec 1, sc 2. (30 sts)

Round 29. (Inv dec 1, sc 3) 6 times. (24 sts)

Do not fasten off and move on to the tentacles.

Tentacles

Round 30. *FLO sl st 1, ch 65. [Sc 3] in the second ch from hook and in each remaining ch. Working on the sts from round 29, FLO sl st 2. Repeat from * 8 times. (8 tentacles, photo 1)

Do not fasten off and move on to the bottom.

Crochet Octopus for Preemies - Tentacles - Raffamusa Designs

Notice how the tentacles look pretty messy in this picture. That’s because I did not roll them so that all the curls went in a clockwise direction. However, when I was done crocheting the octopus, I did roll all the tentacles clockwise to give the octopus a tidier look.

Bottom

Turn your octopus in the same direction of work as for rounds 1-29 (photo 2).

Work next round in BLO of round 29 (one example is indicated by the white arrow in photo 2).

Round 31. BLO sc 1, (BLO inv dec 1, BLO sc 2) 5 times, BLO inv dec 1, BLO sc 1. (18 sts, photo 3)

Crochet Octopus for Preemies - Bottom - Raffamusa Designs

Stuff the head of your octopus.

Work the next rounds normally into both loops of sts.

Round 32. (Inv dec 1, sc 1) 6 times. (12 sts)

Round 33. Inv dec 6. (6 sts)

Fasten off leaving a long tail. Sew the last 6 sts closed and weave in your ends.

Crochet Octopus for Premature Babies - Raffamusa Designs

YOUR CROCHET Octopus IS READY!

I hope you enjoyed this free crochet pattern, and I’d love to see your octopuses for premies! Please, share a pic of your work on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #raffamusadesigns!

Find more Amigurumi patterns here on the blog…

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