A too-tight swaddle can be harmful to your baby’s hip development. Here are tips for swaddling your baby safely
Wrapping your wee one like a tiny burrito can soothe cries and help induce sleep, but it may not be the safest solution. Why? Because it’s actually quite common for newborns to have hip instability (thanks to mom’s hormones that relax ligaments). Tight swaddling around the hips can exacerbate the condition or even lead to hip dysplasia, where the hips are no longer centered in the socket.
“Hip dysplasia is actually the most common abnormality in newborns,” says Charles Price M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and director of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. “Babies have tight muscles around the hips thanks to being cross-legged in the womb for so long, so it takes time for them to naturally stretch out.” When a baby’s legs are stretched straight and pressed together with a tight swaddle it can force hips to move out of the socket, preventing proper development of the hip joint. “The best way to wrap a baby is to make sure there is plenty of room for the legs to move freely,” Dr. Price says.
Learn how to wrap safely at hipdysplasia.org (click “Hip-Healthy Swaddling” for a how-to video). Ready-to-wrap products, like the Halo SleepSack Swaddle ($22; babiesrus.com), are also a good choice.