Although I am not a mother myself, I was a prematurely developed baby and so when I saw the work the Octopus for a Preemie charity is doing, I couldn't help but want to add to the publicity by adding a feature here on Crafty Bug.
If you are not familiar with this charity, its aim is to support premature babies through their first days and struggles by providing crocheted and knitted octopi to soothe the newborn and reassure the parents. The idea is that when parents aren't cuddling their babies, the octopi are there to comfort the newborns and give them something (the tentacles) to grip on to. As the charity's story on Facebook says" These little toys are to make babies and their parents feel calmer and more safe. Children can play with their tentacles in a similar way they played with the umbilical cord in the mother's womb. At the same time parents can have the little break they deserve, knowing their little precious ones are more safe and calm keeping tentacles in their little hands instead of pulling the tubes and cables out."
Every child gets its own little octopus or other knitted / crocheted creature which has been prepared with particular care. They then take it home with them when they are able to leave the hospital. As the charity says "We already helped many families but there still are many of them who need our support. Every day the nightmare of many families begins. Taking a part in this project is available to everyone who wants to help."
If you would like to put your woolen craft skills to use and would like to get involved with this extremely worthwhile project, may I suggest you take a look at either the charity's website or its Facebook page. They provide a coordinator service which not only checks out the crocheted creatures supplied by people to ensure they meet the correct safety standards (extremely important as they are for new born babies!), but also they organize the packing and arrange delivery to the hospitals supplied. According to the website, there are some 15 hospitals being supplied with these woolly friends for premature babies but with an increased supply of creatures, they can extend the list.
Ideally, you should join the group but you can certainly see the patterns for crocheting and knitting Octopus and friends (Howard the Alien, anyone?) on the Octopus for a Preemie website. There are also some useful videos on the charity's You Tube channel to help you with the making your creatures.
I really hope you kind hearted and generous crafters out there are able to help out with this excellent project and create and donate your own octopi for special babies.