A rise in hip dysplasia, a hip condition that affects babies, has called for a change to the way we wrap our babies. Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a condition that comes about when hip joint does not fit in to the usual position. This is due to lack of growth of the joint’s ball and socket and/or abnormal development.
DDH can result in months, and sometimes years, of medical treatment and if left undiagnosed it is a leading cause of early-onset hip arthritis; however, parents have little information about this important condition. The rise of DDH has led to orthopaedic surgeons and Healthy Hips Australia, a health promotion charity, calling for alternative ways to swaddle babies.
There are many benefits to swaddling babies in the early months of their lives but it is important not to wrap babies too tightly. Sarah Twomey, Founder of Healthy Hips Australia and International Advisor to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute explains that when swaddling a baby it is important to allow room around the hips for movement so the legs are free to move in to the natural frog position. Swaddling in this manner still offers the comfort and security that come from swaddling.
Healthy Hips Australia recommends the following technique to ensure safe swaddling for babies and hip health:
Wrap legs tight and straight down / pressed together. At this stage in life, the hip joint can be loosened in the straight-legged position.
Use sleep sacks and pouches that tighten around the thigh.