Hospitals around the world are finding benefits in a simple crocheted toy.
The NICU, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, at Florida Hospital Memorial Center is looking a bit like Beatle Ringo Starr’s “Octopuses Garden” thanks to one crocheter who just wanted to help.
Trudy Rance, the crocheter behind the influx of the colorful sea creatures at the hospital, said she first saw the octopuses on Facebook and adjusted the pattern slightly to make hers “more squishy.” The larger octopuses take her about an hour and a half to make.
A Google search of two words -- “NICU octopus” -- generates pages of stories about these specially made stuffed animals being used in neonatal care units around the world.
Radley Dunlop was the first baby to receive one of the sea creatures. Born on July 30, the baby boy was born with a collapsed lung and admitted to the NICU at Florida Hospital Memorial with his mom Christine McCarthy.
At just one day old, baby Radley found comfort grabbing and clutching the soft tentacles.
When Rance proposed the idea to the hospital, Tracey Yoder, NICU manager, said they did some research.
“We found they were being used to comfort and calm the babies when they are awake in the NICU,” Yoder said. Yoder added that babies should always be supervised with any toy.
Rance’s octopus gift, will be a unique souvenir from his time in Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center’s NICU.
“We are so thankful for Trudy and this wonderful gift for our smallest patients,” Yoder said “Our babies like them. The octopus can help them feel safe and comforted, as the tentacles mimic the feeling of the umbilical cord in the mother's womb. This comfort can help stabilize their heart rate and calm them, helping them heal and grow so they can go home quickly to their families.”
An Orlando resident, Rance went looking for a hospital with a NICU and learned about the Florida Memorial Medical Center’s unit that opened one year ago.
Rance was excited when she got to see the babies at the hospital, but there is something she likes even more.
“I get more satisfaction out of seeing how much everyone appreciates and enjoys these.”