If You're Not 'Hip Healthy' Swaddling, You're Doing It Wrong (VIDEO)

Is it just me, or does it seem like the longer you're a parent, the more studies come out informing you that everything you've done up until now has been HORRIBLY DANGEROUS AND WRONG? I know it makes me sound like I should have a cane handy for yelling at all these gol-dang newfangled parenting techniques to get off my lawn, but I swear I hear about a new baby-wrangling recommendation every other week and it makes me wonder how my own children managed to survive my stunning ineptitude.

I mean, I didn't know deli meat was forbidden during pregnancy! I couldn't wait for that one-year milestone to turn my babies' carseats around! I dosed my kids with over the counter medication at the first sign of a fever! My god, I fed my babies from a SPOON instead of spitting it into their mouths!

And now that I've learned about "hip healthy swaddling," I realize that the way I often wrapped up my babies in those early months was practically begging for hip dysplasia. GAH!

Hip dysplasia is the medical term for looseness of the hip joint, a condition that ranges from mild instability to complete dislocation. One out of every 20 full-term babies have some hip instability, and 2-3 out of every 1,000 infants will require treatment. Not only that, but it's something that can affect a person later in life—almost one third of hip joint replacements before the age of 50 are because of unrecognized hip dysplasia.

While many babies are born with loose hip joints, the natural process is for everything to tighten up on its own, allowing the hips to grow normally. In most cases, this is exactly what happens, but sometimes the correction doesn't happen thanks to genetics ... and overly tight swaddling.

Studies have found that regularly swaddling a baby too tightly may lead to an abnormal development of the hip joint, which can eventually cause the ball of the hip to dislocate from the hip socket. According to the president of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America,

Many cultures, and a growing number of Americans, practice traditional swaddling -- the tight wrapping of infants with their legs together and fully extended. Unfortunately, this practice places infants at a high risk for dysplasia. Instead, the infant’s arms and torso should be snugly wrapped, while the legs are wrapped loosely, ensuring the legs are bent up and out. The legs should be free to move, and most importantly, the legs should never be wrapped in a ‘straight down’ position.

Here's a video on how swaddling should be done:

It seems like I tried all sorts of different swaddles over the years, depending on my baby's age and temperament at the time (you know how sometimes they seem to want to be immobilized, and sometimes they just plain hate it?), but I definitely didn't know to always keep their legs loose. "Hip healthy" information isn't brand new, but I hadn't personally heard of it until recently ... so, I guess I can add "swaddling" to the ever-growing list of stuff I totally biffed back in the day.

Luckily, my kids' hips seem okay today, no thanks to my ignorant wrapping technique, but I'm more than a little paranoid about what I'm going to learn next. Sippy cups: LINKED TO MALFORMED JAWS. Onesies: RESTRICT ARM FLEXIBILITY. Teddy bears: FILLED WITH DEADLY TOXINS.

Did you know about 'hip healthy' swaddling?

Image via YouTube



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While I will be careful to not swaddle the bottom too tight so babies can move their legs, the way that lady just wadded up the blanket at the bottom is just stupid.

It seems like she's using a receiving blanket, not a true swaddle blanket that'd give you more fabric at the bottom to tuck tuck up at the top.

I didn't know about the possibility of HD-- and I like you, author, am amazed that every day a new study comes out that says it's a miracle my kid survived.

LKRachel LKRachel

I didn't know about the hip displasia risk and my husband is an orthopaedic surgeon, so don't feel too bad about not knowing! Lol we had one of those halo blankets that had the swaddle attachment on just the top so we inadvertently did a hip healthy swaddle I guess?

Anast... Anastazia975

None of mine could stand to be swaddled so I guess I dodged that bullet! But I totally agree with you that there si indeed a new study all the time, essentially telling us that we're doing it wrong and its a wonder our kids survived us! Lol.

NatAndCo NatAndCo

I'm waiting for the story "Doctors Discover All Parents Fail At Life and Irreparably Damage Offspring". Seems like its only a matter of time.


After the hospital my kids legs were rarely included when I would swaddle them. They didn't like their legs swaddled.

Eques... EquestrianMom

These studies I usually add to the list of "Oh, and everything you touch will cause cancer" things. It is amazing any of us ever survived anything, isn't it? 

Laurlev Laurlev

I think research has shown that I've failed at everything relating to parenting since the moment of conception.

nonmember avatar emma

Well then I guess it's shocking that there was not an epidemic of crippled Native Americans, seeing as how my ancestors kept their babies swaddled on cradle boards for the first year of their life. And pretty much every culture swaddled at some point. Good Lord, how did the human race make it this far? Pretty much every parenting move that was standard for hundreds of years is suddenly hazardous to your child's health and wellbeing! (Heavy sarcasm)

nonmember avatar Havva

My parents and pediatrician told me about hip healthy swaddling (maybe not in those exact words) after the pediatrician picked up a click in my daughter's hip. My dad was sort of excited about this. He is a doctor who occasionally backs up the pediatricians in town. But he had never examined a baby with hip dysplasia before. Well, My husband and I changed swaddling technique immediately. So by the time Dr. Grandpa got to see his granddaughter, the click was gone. So he still hasn't seen a case. At DD's next appointment I asked the pediatrician to check again, and she couldn't find it either.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

I seriously have no idea how my mother kept me alive. I probably sat in the front seat with no carseat. Lol!

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