Safe swaddling for baby’s hips

Swaddling babies can help provide comfort, reduce crying and develop more settled sleep patterns. It is important to swaddle babies appropriately. Improper swaddling can lead to instability and dislocation of the hip, a condition known as hip dysplasia, says Le Bonheur Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon David Spence, MD.

To promote healthy hips, the baby should be wrapped so that the legs are able to bend up and out at the hips. This position allows for natural and proper development of the hip joints. Do not wrap the baby’s legs straight or pressed together.

There are several methods of swaddling that can be used safely. Spence recommends following guidelines from The International Hip Dysplasia Institute. The steps below provide one method for proper swaddling:

  1. If using a square cloth, fold back one corner creating a straight edge.
  2. Place the baby on the cloth so that the top of the fabric is at shoulder level. If using a rectangular cloth, the baby’s shoulders will be placed at the top of the long side.
  3. Bring the left arm down. Wrap the cloth over the arm and chest. Tuck under the right side of the baby.
  4. Bring the right arm down and wrap the cloth over the baby’s arm and chest.
  5. Tuck the cloth under the left side of the baby. The weight of the baby will hold the cloth firmly in place.
  6. Twist or fold the bottom end of the cloth and tuck behind the baby, ensuring that both legs are bent up and out.

To see these steps in action, watch this video.

Photo courtesy of the The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI).

baby, sleep, newborn