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Safe Swaddling

How to swaddle your baby to avoid hip dysplasia

If you’ve got an infant, you’ve heard a lot about swaddling over the past months. The burrito-like blanket-wrapping has long been believed to comfort a baby by replicating the warm security of a mother’s womb. Recent reports, however, have raised concerns that improper swaddling increases a baby’s risk of hip dysplasia, a misalignment of the hip socket.

Concerns are so high, the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education urges child care providers to avoid swaddling their charges. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of three states that have banned the practice outright in child care centers.

To balance a parent’s desire to swaddle a baby for comfort with the health worries in the news, the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and the American Academy of Pediatrics are now promoting “hip-healthy swaddling,” a wrapping method that allows the baby’s legs to bend. Here’s how to do it correctly.

  1. Spread the blanket out flat, with one corner folded down.
  2. Lay the baby face-up on the blanket, with her head above the folded corner.
  3. Straighten her left arm and wrap the left corner of the blanket over her body, then tuck it between her right arm and the right side of her body.
  4. Tuck the right arm down and fold the right corner of the blanket over her body and under her left side.
  5. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby. Make sure her hips can move and that the blanket is not too tight.

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