This is the heartwarming reason why people are crocheting octopuses for premature babies

Premature babies in the United Kingdom now have unlikely companions to keep them company: Adorable, crocheted octupuses. 

All premature babies in the NICU at Poole Hospital in Dorset, England will receive an 8-legged, cuddly companion to keep them company while they work on getting strong enough to live and breathe on their own.

Research from Denmark claims that toy octopuses help premature babies, because squeezing their tentacles led to better breathing (which in turn leads to better oxygen levels and more regular heartbeats).

"One of the nurses brought in the octopus and explained about the idea. The girls absolutely love them. When they are asleep they hold onto the tentacles tightly," said Kat Smith, whose premature twins Jasmine and Amber are currently in the hospital.  "Normally they would be in the womb and would play with the umbilical cord so the octopuses make them feel grounded and safe. They really are beautiful."

If you want to help, you can make octopuses yourself to send to the newborn babies.

You can find the octopus pattern here. Just be sure the tentacles aren’t more than 8.6 inches long, and that they’re made from 100% cotton. Then you can send them to the maternity ward at Poole Hospital and help some beautiful babies.