As all new moms know, swaddling newborns by wrapping them tightly in a blanket can be a lifesaver.
Not only does it allow the babies to get extended periods of sleep by keeping them warm and comfortable, but it also means exhausted new mothers can get some rest as well.
Swaddling can stop crying and restlessness, develop motor skill growth, and help an infant fall (and stay) asleep because it gives them the safe feeling of security they felt in the womb.
However, experts are now saying that if an improper swaddling technique is used, babies can develop hip dysplasia or dislocation.
Hip dysplasia is when the ball of the hip is not correctly in the hip socket. It can cause a myriad of problems if left untreated such as problems walking and pain in the hip. It can make the leg, hip, or buttocks to appear abnormal.
It can be caused by parents swaddling their baby too tightly with the hips and knees extended. This is especially detrimental in the first three months of life.
Doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading children's hospitals in the country, are encouraging parents, childcare professionals, and their own doctors and staff to learn about and use the new and improved form of swaddling.
They are now advising everyone to leave room at the bottom of the blanket so the baby's hips and legs can move freely but yet are still covered and somewhat secure. Many babies are born with some form of looseness in their hips and improper swaddling can make this condition worse.
To allow for healthy hip development, babies should be able to bend their legs when swaddled. They should also be able to open their legs at their hips. This looser form of swaddling allows for the natural development of the hip joints.
Keeping their hips and knees in an extended position, as in the typical swaddle, is what can cause hip problems.
Parents do not have to avoid swaddling their children though. The first few months of new parenthood is hard enough and without the respite swaddling can bring, it could be overwhelming.
If done correctly, swaddling can improve the overall quality of life for both parents and babies. The improved sleep patterns can result in longer periods of sleep and less restlessness, and maybe even allow a new mom to take a shower.