How to Practice Safe Swaddling to Protect Baby's Hips

Article By:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
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 dislocation.

The cozy feeling of a blanket snugly wrapped around the baby's body resembles the mother's womb. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports safe swaddling of infants that leaves the hips and legs free to move. Studies have found that straightening and tightly swaddling a baby's legs can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip joint where the top of the thigh bone is not held firmly in the socket of the hip.

It is advised to discontinue swaddling when an infant is 8 weeks of age and replace this with a sleep sack. SIDS deaths have occurred with infants of 2-2.5 months who have rolled onto their stomachs while swaddled and then suffocated.

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

Swaddle the baby on 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.

Image from the how-to video above demonstating the Diamond swaddle.
Image from the how-to video above demonstating the Diamond swaddle.
Swaddle a baby using the 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 one side of the baby.

Legs should be able to bend up and out. When using a commercial swaddling blanket, make sure it is loose around the baby's hips and legs.

To reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome, parents should place babies on their backs to sleep and keep loose bedding and soft objects out of the crib. As mentioned above, swaddling should be discontinued at 8 weeks of age and replaced with the use of an infant sleep sack.

The above information is taken from the American Academy of Pediatrics' September 2011 and 2013 editions of AAP News.

For more information visit:

International Hip Dysplasia Institute @
http://www.hipdysplasia.org/default.aspx

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons @
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00347

Dr. Juliet Spurrier is founder and Mom-in-Chief at BabyGearLab
Juliet Spurrier, MD
About the Author
Dr. Juliet Baciocco Spurrier is a board certified pediatrician, mother of two, and founder of BabyGearLab. Juliet earned her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Anthropology and Italian Literature from the University of California at Berkeley and her Medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington DC. She completed her pediatric residency at the Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR, and subsequently practiced pediatrics in both the Pacific Northwest and Silicon Valley. Juliet serves as Mom-in-Chief at BabyGearLab, where she oversees all baby product review activity, assuring that each review delivers on our commitment to quality.

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