Octopus For A Preemie at Edward Hospital

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A nurse at Edward Hospital spends a big chunk of her free time making octopus toys for premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Back in 2017, I stumbled upon these octopuses on social media and said, ‘well this is a really cool idea. They’re supposed to help preemies,’” said Angela Stephenson, a registered staff nurse at the hospital.

A Labor of Love

Stephenson spends about a day on each of these crocheted octopuses, which are given to the preemie babies born at the hospital.

The practice started in Denmark when a father of a preemie baby noticed his child pulling on the tubes and cords helping to keep it alive.

“He came up with this idea that, ‘if I could just make her something,’ so he crocheted her an octopus,” said Stephenson. “And the doctors there and the nursing staff were just floored. All she had to do was just grab that and she would instantly fall asleep.”

Bringing the Idea Home

Now Angela and her fellow R.N. Cam Damore have brought the practice to Edward. But it’s a lot of work.

All the octopuses need to be made to a certain standard so as not to be a choking or strangulation hazard. Plus, they need to be thoroughly sanitized prior to being placed with the vulnerable child.

But all the work is worth it when they see the effect the octopus has.

“One doctor came to me and said, ‘and she still plays with that thing.’ So it’s kind of neat to see that she’ll still utilize the toy and that it’s lasted this long and that the labor of love that’s gone into it has withstood the test of time,” said Stephenson.

Stephenson keeps a book documenting all the octopuses she’s given away, which she estimates at around 200.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.