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How to Practice Safe Swaddling to Protect Baby's Hips

It's important to practice hip-healthy swaddling
How to Practice Safe Swaddling to Protect Baby's Hips
Credit: Abriah Wofford
By Juliet Spurrier, MD ⋅ Mom-in-Chief
Wednesday October 14, 2015
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Many babies take comfort in being swaddled in a blanket. However, swaddling the wrong way can cause hip issues. Read on to learn about hip-healthy swaddling.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Keep Hips Loose


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports safe swaddling as long as the baby's hips and legs are free to move. In other words, your baby's legs should be able to bend up and out. Studies have found that babies who are swaddled too tightly may develop a problem with their hips, such as hip dislocation or hip dysplasia, which is an abnormal hip joint formation where the top of the thigh bone is not held firmly in the hip's socket.

Important
The AAP suggests discontinuing swaddling when an infant is 8 weeks of age and transitioning to a sleep sack. Around this age, babies begin to roll, and if they're swaddled, the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation increases.

How to Swaddle


When swaddling a baby, use the following techniques from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute:

  • Use a Square Blanket — Place the baby's head above the middle of one edge, tuck the right arm down, and fold the right side of the blanket over the baby between the left arm and under the left side. Then tuck the left arm down and fold the left edge of the blanket over the baby and under the right side. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket up and loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby.
  • Diamond Shape Technique — Fold one corner of a square blanket down and place the baby with its head in the center above the folded corner. Straighten the right arm and fold the right corner of the blanket over the baby between the left arm and under the left side. Then tuck the left arm down and fold the left corner of the blanket over the baby and under the right side. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under the baby.
  • Swaddle — When using a commercial swaddling blanket, make sure it's loose around the baby's hips and legs.



Remember
To reduce the chance of SIDS, parents should always place babies on their backs to sleep and keep loose bedding and soft objects out of the crib.

Resource Sources

  1. Healthychildren.org - Swaddling: Is it Safe?
  1. International Hip Dysplasia Institute - Are you swaddling your baby properly?


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