Premature babies at a neonatal intensive care unit in the UK are receiving unique companions to help them feel safe: crocheted octopuses.
Families at Poole Hospital in Dorset have been using the crocheted toys in the NICU. And they've asked for the community's help to make them, so no baby goes without.
The idea hails from Denmark, where the Danish Octo Project began in February 2013. Since then, the project has spread around the world - including Australia.
Why an octopus? The multi-tentacled creatures are said to remind the babies of the umbilical cord when they were in the womb.
Poole hospital's asking people who can crochet to help make an octopus for premature babies. Here's baby Noah with his. pic.twitter.com/EO5jZuhjaV— BBC Radio Solent (@BBCRadioSolent) November 9, 2016
"When we heard about the difference a cuddly octopus can make to our tiny babies we were impressed and, after research, eager to introduce them to our little patients," Daniel Lockyer, neonatal services matron at Poole Hospital, told the Bournemouth Echo.
"It's incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better."
Kat Smith, who gave birth to twin girls Jasmine and Amber at 28 weeks, said her babies "love" their crocheted companions.
"One of the nurses brought in the octopus and explained about the idea," she said. "The girls absolutely love them. When they are asleep they hold onto the tentacles tightly.
"Normally they would still be in the womb and would play with the umbilical cord, so the octopuses make them feel grounded and safe. They really are beautiful."
Poole Hospital told Prima.co.uk that for safety considerations, octopuses need to be made from 100 per cent cotton so that they can be washed at high temperatures. Tentacles should also be no longer than 22cm when extended.
"All octopuses are sterilised before they are given to babies," Poole Hospital said, "and regularly cleaned once the infant has come into contact with them."
You can find a pattern to make an octopus here.