Listening to our babies cry for hours on end can be pretty trying for any new parent, but luckily swaddling does seem to help calm them down a bit, providing some much needed relief (for all parties involved). However, now there is new research suggesting that swaddling your baby may actually cause him to have hip problems. So you may stop him from being colicky, but he may have to eventually have surgery to correct the damage done by swaddling him. Well isn't that just great?
Supposedly some doctors are seeing a rise in the number of cases of hip dysplasia, which they attribute to more and more parents swaddling their babies too tightly. Babies' ligaments are relaxed so they are flexible during birth, and they strengthen and heal naturally after the baby is born. But swaddling causes their legs to be forcefully straightened, which puts a damper on allowing their joints to fix themselves.
But wait a minute, isn't getting your baby all nice and tight and bundled up so they feel safe and secure kind of the whole point of swaddling? I thought it was supposed to make them feel like they were still in the womb, which in turn helps them be less fussy and stop the incessant bouts of crying. Isn't a happy baby a good thing?
Just look at my little guy's face in the photo above, for example. Doesn't he look totally content all wrapped up like a tiny burrito? OMG. We swaddled him a L-O-T as a newborn. My husband actually used to brag about his amazing swaddling skills like he was some sort of baby whisperer. Luckily, it looks like we are in the clear as far as hip dysplasia goes, but I would've felt terrible if he'd had a problem simply because we wrapped him up because we were trying to stop him from crying.
This sounds like yet another situation where parents simply can't win; however, doctors still see swaddling as safe and harmless -- as long as the baby isn't wrapped too tightly and can still freely move his legs under the blanket. If you do plan on swaddling, a good rule of thumb is to make sure that your little one can still bend his legs. If he can't, then odds are good that the swaddle is too tight, and you should unwrap him and start over. Better safe than sorry, right?
The swaddling demonstration in the video clip below is a good one -- notice how the baby is still able to kick her feet even though she is swaddled.
Do you find that swaddling your baby helps calm him/her down?
Image via Mary Fischer