Swaddling of babies is causing hip dislocation

baby sleep

I’ve never been a fan of overtight swaddling and I’m most definitely not a ninja in the swaddling department.

I’ve often felt my swaddling skills were most definitely quite amateur and  I feel most pleased they were and are.

Tight swaddling of the hip area of a baby has been linked to dysplasia and potential dislocation of the hips. Eeeekkkk.

The stats are quite startling.


Babies are swaddled to manage the startle reflex which disappears by 3 – 4 months of age. Reducing the startle reflex helps restful sleep in babies. 

You may recall when I first arrived in OZ I was new to wrapping/swaddling babies.

I’d swaddled babies as a midwife in the UK where I’d trained but we’d stopped this practice when SIDS recommendations said to only tuck baby in with bedclothes (sheets and blankies) at shoulder height. The wrap was out of vogue.


Since I’ve worked in OZ (15 years) I’m a convert to wrapping/swaddling. But those of you who know me will recall my wraps being loose around the hip area. And I’m so glad they have been and are.

These were my exact words in my blogpost on 3rd March, 2012.

“It is important, not to swaddle too tightly, as constriction of a babies chest can increase the risk of respiratory illness and if the bottom half of the baby is wrapped too tight it can lead to hip dysplasia. So a happy medium is called for!” 


“Many babies sleep better when swaddled but this can be achieved by focusing on the top half of the body,” Dr Clarke wrote  in the Archives of Disease in Childhood published by the British Medical Journal.

Australian paediatrician Dr Harriet Hiscock of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute agrees. “Parents who are going to wrap need to learn to do it in a safe way. The baby must be able to fully stretch out their legs. The wrap should be tight at the top and looser at the bottom.”

In Japan there has been a huge push to stop parents swaddling their babies and as a result, hip dislocation in babies has halved. Even baby clothing manufacturers make sure that store-bought swaddling clothes have a loose pouch or sack for the baby’s legs and feet, allowing for plenty of hip movement and flexing these days.

Maybe the love to dream suit and other similar ones need a rethink and to be a bit roomier in the bottom half of the suit.

Here’s a little blogpost on congenital dislocation of the hip and the Pavlik’s harness. This little baby in the photo below is called Frankie. Her hips were a congenital dislocation i.e. born with and not created by tight swaddling.


Hopefully by writing this blogpost I’ve saved a few babies from dislocated hips by over wrapping. 

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Nurture Parenting's Karen Faulkner is a baby sleep and toddler expert who brings calm and sleep into families and gives parents their confidence back. Cerris Pty Ltd trading as Nurture Parenting - ABN 42 623 216 384 - Sydney, Australia

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