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The Secret To Hip Healthy Swaddling

Affiliate Disclosure | in Motherhood | by | with 110 Comments

  According to a recent study, improper swaddling techniques can cause serious problems, like HIP DYSPLASIA and even dislocated hips. Here's how to get all the benefits of swaddling - better sleep and less crying - while promoting healthy hip development.

Should Baby Burritos Be Banned? 

In some daycares that’s exactly what’s happened thanks to growing evidence that incorrect swaddling may cause hip dysplasia. (source) Other objections – such as workers placing swaddled babies on their stomachs to sleep – seem easy enough to correct, but is there merit to the idea that swaddling may cause harm?

Yes, says a study conducted at the University of Southampton.

While there is evidence to support the idea that swaddled babies sleep better and cry less, some wrapping techniques may interfere with proper hip development.  Dr. Anthony Scaduto, chief of pediatric orthopedics at the Orthopedic Institute for Children at the University of California, “has noticed that an increasing percentage of the patients referred to him because of suspected hip dysplasia have been swaddled.” (source)

What NOT To DO

Papoose-Style Swaddling

Papoose-Style Swaddling

According Dr. Charles T. Price, director of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, incorrect swaddling techniques are nothing new: 

“Studies from Japan, Turkey, and from American Indians have shown that tight swaddling in the papoose position can cause hip dysplasia and can even cause babies hips to dislocate.” (source, emphasis mine) 

According to Dr. Price, looseness “of the hips is the most common abnormality in newborn infants, so proper swaddling is important to keep the hips healthy. ” (source)

So how do we keep our babies happy and snug while promoting healthy hip development? It’s easy!

Is Swaddling Healthy (Even When Done Correctly?)

In this article, lactation consultant Nancy Mohrbacher suggests that we need to rethink swaddling completely. She explains that, according to several studies, newborns who are swaddled have a weaker suckling reflex, lose more weight, and are colder than babies who receive skin-to-skin care.

So should we ditch the practice completely? I can’t say what is right for anyone else, but with my last baby I practiced near constant skin-to-skin for the first weeks of life, then began swaddling as the startle reflex kicked in. I found that it was helpful in preventing him from waking himself up as he flailed his arms around, and of course I made sure to keep the room cool and use proper technique to keep him safe.

The Secret To Hip Healthy Swaddling

Here’s a demonstration of proper swaddling technique:


Houdini’s that they are, my little potami usually escaped from a plain blanket swaddle pretty easily. I ended up using this special wrap instead – it’s very easy to swaddle in a hip-healthy way and it works really well!

Also, please note: Most swaddle blanket manufacturers recommend weaning from the swaddle when baby can roll over.

Other Ways To Promote Healthy Hip Development

Baby Carriers

As the International Hip Dysplasia Institute illustrates, certain baby carriers do not support babies hips properly. (photo source) You can find more on the biomechanics of baby wearing here.


Which Carrier Should I Use?

There are many good ones out there, but here are the two I personally use and love:
For younger babies, I love the Boba wrap. It comes with instructions for using the “frog position,” which is considered hip friendly.For older babies and toddlers, I love the  Boba Carrier. I’ve also heard fabulous things about the Ergo and many others.
If anyone has another ergonomically correct carrier that they’d like to recommend please do!

Other Items

The National Hip Dysplasia Institute also mentions “car seats, exercisers, rockers, jumpers, swings, bouncers and walkers, and molded seating items” as products of possible concern.


If you have these in your house it may be worth researching the risks/benefits of your particular model.

Photo credits: Geoffrey Wisemantstadler





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110 Responses to The Secret To Hip Healthy Swaddling

  1. Aussie Kidlets says:

    I love the pictures that you have provided to support your evidence. You should only swaddle your child if you are certain that you know how to swaddle correctly.

    I like to call the position in the carrier the “frog leg” position. The pictures you have provided shows why I like to call it this position.

    Thanks for the great post.

  2. Jecissa says:

    Was it driving anyone else crazy that the baby at the end was laying there crying??? Pick up that baby and give him to his mommy!!

  3. 7 Causes of Diaper Rash and How to Treat Them NaturallyThe Mommypotamus | says:

    […] perfecting the art of hip healthy swaddling […]

  4. Trista says:

    I think every baby is just different. My son was a preemie (32 weeks) and the nurses at the hospital kept swaddling him, and he’d keep getting his arms out. A few weeks later, when he was able to come home, I didn’t worry about swaddling so much just because it didn’t seem to bother him to have his arms moving around.
    Same thing happened with the pacifier. Around 4 months of age, he would get screaming mad if we gave him the pacifier. He was happier just being at the breast. So I think it’s just different for each child.

  5. Alisha says:

    I highly recommend the ‘Pouch Pack’ from Natures Sway. It’s a super convenient, soft-structured ergonomic baby carrier and is made from organic natural fibres (hemp/cotton) and wool – so it’s breathable and washable. I LOVE mine, and so does my six-week old son! And it’s easy to take on/off. They’re made in NZ but can be shipped worldwide.

  6. Danna Krasner says:

    Has anyone tried the Zipadee-Zip from Sleeping Baby? My LO loves sleeping in it because he feels the comfort and security of a swaddle but has enough mobility to freely move around.

  7. atxmom1985 says:

    good info and advice! Our LO loved her Zipadee-zip and it was more safe for hip dysplasia bc it gave her room and didn’t restrict her hips. She sleeps great in it!

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