During my pregnancy with Erin I read plenty on how to establish good sleeping from the start. Chloe had been a really poor sleeper, as soon as she was dropping off she would twitch and wake herself back up. There is lots of research to say that swaddling helps babies feel settled and helps aid better sleep. Swaddling is practised the world over and I was determined to try this approach with Erin and guess what – I had a baby that slept and slept. Erin was swaddled for the first few months and slept through the night from a very young age. Fast forward 18 months and I discover that Erin has developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Once the initial shock had dimmed I was on the internet researching causes, treatment etc and during my reading, I discovered there is a link between swaddling and DDH. The baby’s leg should not be tightly swaddled together, it is really important that the legs and hips can move otherwise the hip socket can become damaged. Experts have seen that in afro caribbean culture where woman wear their babies straddled across their back the number of DDH cases is much lower this is due to opening the hips and legs allowing the cup and ball joint to grow unrestricted.
Obviously this caused me guilt, and raised questions BUT I now understand that modern swaddling carried out safely is perfectly safe providing you know how to wrap your baby. The International hip dysplasia institute has produced an excellent video to teach healthy swaddling.
I believe that swaddling does help settle babies and aid better sleep but I want to ensure that parents are taught how to swaddle to promote healthy hips too. DDH is the most common birth defect, yet the health professionals I have come across know very little of the signs. Therefore if you are swaddling make sure you watch this video.