Swaddling banned? No, just be hip wise.
We learn on the job as we go; parenting has been my toughest 'job' that's for sure. We try our best, rely on gut instinct, but most of us also like to know what the ‘experts’ are saying. It's really frustrating then, when the experts keep changing the rules.
Warnings periodically circulate calling into question swaddling, due to the increased risk of hip dysplasia, but we aren't saying stop swaddling; just avoid swaddling over the hips and legs.
Personally I loved swaddling both my girls; yes both had hip dysplasia, not due to swaddling but being breech and having a family history. Many a night, swaddling soothed my girls (and I).
Swaddling provides security, comfort, aids settling and helps establish sleep patterns. It’s also proven to aid in the reduction of the risk of sudden infant death (SIDS) syndrome.
Research has shown, for some time, that some swaddling methods can leave fabric too tight around babies’ legs, which increases the risk of hip dysplasia.
So what's the fuss about hip dysplasia?
It's when the ball and socket of the hip don't fit together in their normal position. The causes aren’t fully known, it is developmental so it is not always present at birth. Add to the mix that it is hard to detect and referred to as a silent condition, as there may be no obvious signs and symptoms, and it’s no wonder many still say, “I thought only dogs got that”.A safe swaddling education program in Japan, in 1975, saw the reported incidence of infant hip dislocation drop from 3.5% to less than 0.2% following the initiative. A simple change made a massive difference.
Could your child suffer from a more serious condition? Yes. Is DDH life threatening? No, but it can certainly be life changing.
Our kids are resilient. Most close the chapter on this condition and go onto lead unaffected lives but, please, listen to the expert advice. Avoid tight swaddling over the hips and legs. Hip dysplasia is the most common cause hip arthritis in adults and left untreated, leads to a life limited by pain and the potential need for a hip replacement.
Remember too that when advice changes, the experts are only human too, and many are parents as well; their advise is based on what is best practice now, but what is ‘best’ changes through research and learning.
Sarah (HHA Founder)
For more information about hip dysplasia and safe swaddling; including links to recommendations from other organisations about this subject:
Written: April 2016. Updated April 2017.
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. Every effort is made to ensure this information is up to date, accurate and easy to understand. Healthy Hips Australia accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading. This can be reproduce with acknowledgement to Healthy Hips Australia. Handouts are available to download free of charge at www.healthyhipsaustralia.org.au