Infants and Gross Motor skills

“Baby equipment should not forcibly push your baby’s legs together or keep them in an extended position since this can impede hip development and lead to abnormal hip growth,” says Rachel Goldstein, MD, Director of the Hip Preservation Program in the Jackie and Gene Autry Orthopedic Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “It’s especially important to remember that baby equipment supports infant development; it does not advance it. So, it’s critical to always use age-appropriate items and use them the recommended way based on the manufacturer’s instructions.”

Hip dysplasia, which is the abnormal development of the hips, is not uncommon. In fact, about 1 in 1,000 babies will develop this condition. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly so that the femur bone cannot fit into the hip socket accurately. This can cause a wide range of symptoms later in life – from a small limp or partial dislocation to complete dislocation of the hip or early onset arthritis. Females, first born babies, and babies who were in the frank breech position in utero are all at a higher risk for developing this condition. Certain infant carriers and devices can leave your baby at an increased risk for developing hip dysplasia as well.

Choosing the right type of infant products can help you avoid these potential outcomes and luckily these risks can be caught at your regular well child visits.

Here are some infant items or practices that can contribute to developmental hip dysplasia, and what you can do to avoid or modify it:

    Swaddling. While swaddling may be a way to decrease a baby's arousal, so that it's harder for them to wake up, it can contribute to hip dysplasia because traditional swaddling keeps the legs close together and straight. If you choose to swaddle, keep the blanket loose around the legs so that the knees are able to be spread apart and the hips can move freely. Here is a short video in which the International Hip Dysplasia Institute demonstrates how to do just that: How to Hip-Healthy Swaddle your Baby.

    Baby carriers. Look for types of carriers that keep the hips safe. The carrier should allow the legs to open around the adult where the thighs are supported underneath.

    Baby slings. Some slings keep baby’s legs together and scrunched. This does not allow for the hips and knees to be open and move freely. Look for a baby sling that is wrapped around in a way that allows for baby’s legs to hang down, opened out, and thighs supported.

    Sleep gowns. Like swaddling, some baby sleep gowns can be too tight around the legs. This keeps the legs straight and does not allow the hips room to move freely. Choose one that is loose enough for your baby’s knees to spread outward and the hips are able move freely.

Remember that you should not use certain baby equipment if your child is not developmentally ready. For example, if your baby cannot sit up by themselves then they should not be in a device such as a floor seat or a baby jumper. Once they are developmentally ready, you should still limit the time in which they use this equipment as developing skills such as sitting, standing and walking should be accomplished when the body is physically ready.

If you ever have any questions regarding these devices and when would be the appropriate time to introduce them to your child, please ask our office staff for advice prior to purchase.


Resource: https://www.chla.org;  https://blog.cincinnatichildrens.org

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