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Swaddle Me Safely

What’s all the fuss about swaddling?

There is nothing more comforting for a newborn baby than to be swaddled up snuggly in a blanket and held in Mommy or Daddy’s arms. But, the question of safety of this age-old comfort method has been on the minds of mommies lately.

What’s all the fuss about?

As newborn infants, our hips are immature. As our skeletons mature from cartilage to bone, our hip sockets grow. The formation of proper deep, round, hip sockets depends on the proper placement of the thigh-bone (femur) in the developing socket (acetabulum).

Certain methods of swaddling place baby’s hip in a risky position, increasing the chance of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH). Dysplasia simply means malfomation – in this case, of the acetabulum. With, DDH the head of the femur may be partially or fully dislocated from the malformed, shallow acetabulum.

Untreated DDH leads to hip pain and early arthritis of the hips. Some babies are born with the condition due to constraint in the uterus while developing, while others acquire the condition after birth. The good news is the condition is almost always treatable if caught early with simple, non- invasive measures.

According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI), babies should be swaddled with a slight bend at the hip and knee and slight separation of the legs, somewhat like a frog’s legs. Freedom of motion of the legs is another factor that reduces risk of DDH. The IHDI also recommends avoiding ‘papoose’ style swaddling. This style of swaddle binds straight legs together tightly. Cultures that use papooses to carry infants have higher rates of DDH, whereas cultures that carry babies ‘straddle’ or ‘jockey’ style, have lower rates. Salter RB Can Med Assoc J 1968;98:933-945

Visit this link to the IDHI for a wonderful animation of how leg position affects the hip:

This video, by the IHDI demonstrates three safe swaddling methods.

Although all newborns are checked at birth for DDH, it should be re-assessed periodically during infancy since it can develop after birth.

If you would like more information about your swaddling techniques or have questions about chiropractic care, please call the Health Centre of Milton at 905-878-8131 to book a complimentary consultation today.

DrBeckyWritten by Dr. Rebecca Patterson B.A. (Hons.), D.C.

Dr. Patterson has recently welcomed her first child to the world and has experienced first hand the benefits of chiropractic care for the pre and postnatal period for both mom and baby. She takes special interest in the treatment of pregnancy and pediatrics. She is committed to providing high quality care to her patients, improving their physical well-being and improving their capacity to participate fully in life.

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