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Crochet Octopus for NICU Babies and Preemies

Updated: Jan 12

In Loving Memory of Rowen 7/23/2020 - 9/12/2020

Crafting, knit, and crochet has the power to heal, comfort, and create a positive impact. One beautiful way to make a difference is by crocheting octopuses for preemies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These tiny, handmade treasures provide solace and warmth to our littlest fighters. In this blog post, we'll guide you through creating your very own crocheted octopus, explain the benefits of these comforting companions, and how to care for them. We'll also introduce you to the best yarn and materials for this special project. Plus, we invite you to join our community, "NICU Knits," to contribute and donate to NICUs across the United States.

What is a crocheted octopus for preemies and what are the benefits?

A crocheted octopus for preemies is a tightly stitched amigurumi style animal, specially designed with premature infants in mind. These are meant for preemies and babies in the NICU under 24/7 monitoring. The tentacles are carefully crafted to provide comfort to babies, mimicking the soothing sensation of the umbilical cord. These octopuses serve the dual purpose of preventing babies from unintentionally pulling out medical devices like IVs and cords, they can even improve oxygen levels! Additionally, they make adorable and meaningful milestone keepsakes for photos, capturing moments of hope and resilience during a preemie's journey.

Additional Benefits:

  1. Emotional Support: Preemies often face a challenging start to life. Crocheted octopuses serve as cuddly companions, offering a sense of security and emotional support during their NICU stay.

  2. Developmental Benefits: The tentacles of these octopuses simulate the feel of the umbilical cord, providing a soothing sensation that can help preemies self-soothe. This can lead to better sleep patterns and overall development.

  3. Personal Touch: Handmade octopuses have a unique, personal touch that mass-produced toys lack. They carry the love and care of their creators, making them extra special.

"Very sweet , makes the bed a little happier, and good for baby to grab on too." – Jennifer


For the best results consider using 100% cotton yarn. The pattern was designed and made with Hobby Lobby's "I Love This Cotton". It is a medium 4 weight yarn and is perfect for this project.

100% cotton yarn is a must for sanitation purposes. These friends should be washed frequently in HOT water and the cotton yarn holds up well under these conditions.

Some other alternatives are:

  1. Lion Brand 24/7 Cotton

  2. Red Heart Scrubby Smoothie Cotton Yarn

  3. Red Heart Creme de la Creme Yarn: Solids and Ombres

Additional Materials

  • “B/2.25mm” and “E/3.5mm” crochet hooks

  • 3 oz of worsted 4 weight cotton yarn

  • 12 in of black cotton yarn or embroidery thread

  • Scissors

  • Yarn Needle

  • Stitch Marker

  • Poly Fill stuffing

Abbreviations and Stitches Used

  • Ch: Chain

  • Flo: Front loop only

  • Blo: Back loop only

  • MC: Magic Circle

  • Inc: 2 Sc in the same st

  • Dec: Invisible decrease (single crochet 2 stitches together using the front loops only)

  • Sl St: Slip Stitch

  • SC: Single Crochet

  • F/O: Finish Off

  • Y/O: Yarn over

  • St: Stitch


Notes Written in US crochet terms Skill level is beginner Head is worked in continuous rounds.

If you prefer a written PDF pattern for a small fee which helps support this website and donations you can purchase it here:

Click the link to access the video tutorial

Rowen the NICU Octopus

Head w/ “B” 2.25 mm hook

Rnd 1: 8 sc in a MC (8).

Rnd 2: (Inc) 8 times (16).

Rnd 3: (Sc, Inc) 8 times (24).

Rnd 4: (Sc in 2, Inc) 8 times (32).

Rnd 5: (Sc in 3, Inc) 8 times ( 40).

Rnds 6-13: Sc in each st around (40).

Rnd 14: (Sc in 3, Dec) 8 times (32) *invisible decrease: insert hook into the flo of the next 2 sts, y/o pull through 2 loops, y/o pull through remaining 2 loops. Pause here and embroider the face taking care to secure the ends by tying them off inside of the head.

Rnd 15: Sc in each st around (32)

Rnd 16: (Sc in 2, Dec) 8 times (24)

Rnd 17: Sc in each st around (24)

Tentacles Change to “E”/3.5mm hook. Sc in the flo of the next st. (Ch 35, make 3 sc in the 2nd ch from the hook. Make 3 sc in each ch. Sc in the flo of the next 3 sts) repeat ( ) 8 times.

Note: After the eighth tentacle sc in the flo of the next 2 sts then join with a sl st to the 1st st of the rnd. Stuff FIRMLY with Poly Fill

Closing the Head W/ “B”2.25mm hook.

Dec around using the BLO from the previous rnd. Add more stuffing (it should be almost rock hard). Continue to Dec around using the Blo until you cannot comfortably insert your hook anymore. F/o leaving a long tail.

Thread needle and use the tail to make a running stitch to close the small opening. Knot off and thread tail through the head. Trim tail and it should fall into the head securing the bottom closed.

Final Thoughts

This Pattern is dedicated to Rowen: 7/23/2020 - 9/12/2020

You have permission to sell your finished products however, please do not use my photos as your own. Please do not copy, remake or distribute this pattern. Always check with your NICU first to be sure Octos are accepted. Do not leave baby unsupervised with an Octo outside of the NICU. Babies in the NICU are monitored 24/7 once baby is home baby should not sleep with the octo.

I hope you get all the warm fuzzies crocheting for preemies and fall in love with it like me! I’d love to see your finished Octos. Tag me on IG @ButFirstCrochet

Join NICU Knits Facebook Group

Would you like to donate to NICU's around the USA? Join our group of fabulous crocheters!

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