Preemie Genius: Elva Senses’ Sensory Octopus Toy


Every NICU parent wants to soothe and stimulate her newborn while adhering to unit rules, bacteria concerns and little storage.  Enter the ELVA SENSES Octopus created in Paris, France.

With the handmade octopi craze, people everywhere are bringing these items into NICUs in the hopes of helping babies.  ELVA SENSES owner, Pernille Brostrup herself was fascinated and was in the middle of launching production on her sensory toy products when she learned of them and therein discovered some major drawbacks.

“I was so fascinated and in awe of the potential of these small sea creatures and read absolutely everything I could get my hands on about them and their proclaimed virtues. It was during this research that I found a study by Davis (2000) showing that 98% of cultures from toys in infants cots in an NICU were contaminated with bacteria that can be potentially pathogenic even to healthy infants.”

Brostrup, in citing this major issue also noted that these handmade octopi is that, “…they are knitted or crocheted and do not stand washing at 60° Celcius (140° Fahrenheit), which is the protocol for any NICU regarding any other material used in the incubator except this toy! The wool can come from mills that have treated it with bleach, toxic colors etc, all compounds  harmful to the fragile neonatal system. For all of the reasons above I decided to try to make an alternative to these, and it was not easy. It was actually so difficult to get it right that it took 6 different suppliers rejecting my request before I finally found a partner who was able to provide me with the perfect little specimen.”

With this in mind, Brostrup created a NICU-friendly and earth-friendly (each one is made from 99.5% discarded water bottles) sensory toy that holds up to the rules and regulations of every NICU out there – all while also maintaining a strong connection to the womb. The tentacles are not simple bits of string or yarn, but solid material that uniquely mimics the the umbilical cord.  The octopi are soft and lightweight – perfect for tiny hands to explore the various sensory-friendly bumps and and solidly sewn seams beyond the fun and friendly tentacles. This is a solid product and one that NICUs should include in their budget for the neonatal therapy team. Learn more at


We are giving away 10 octopi to a NICU pro who subscribes to either preemieFAMILY or preemiePRO during the month of February 2020.