Bringing up babies and nurturing them is a massive task that requires utmost responsibility and awareness about children’s health. In the name of convenience and luxury, many brands offer a vast variety of baby products to best help the parents in their upbringing process. But it’s the responsibility of the parents to gather knowledge first and carefully choose which baby products to buy that are helpful and do not cause a potential risk to baby’s health. Baby carriers are one of these baby products which require attention while buying and using because improper way of carrying a baby especially for longer span of time can interfere with their normal growth patterns and can lead to hip dysplasia in babies. Parents need to realize the significant impact such baby products have over time on the development and growth of babies.
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What is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia or hip dislocation is a condition in babies where the hip socket gets loose and deformed or the get dislocated by prolonged pressure or strain in the wrong direction. When babies are born, their bones are soft and flexible and it takes some time for their hip joint to strengthen enough and develop properly to bear the weight of the baby's legs and body. In the meantime, it is crucial for the parents to know how to hold and carry a baby properly so that the development of the hip joint takes place normally. Wearing a baby in a baby carrier in the wrong or careless position can lead to hip dysplasia in babies and that is why parents need to understand and be aware of the best baby carrying positions.
Baby Carrying Positions
In the womb, the babies are tucked tightly with their hips and knees bent for long time in a fetal position. Their spine is curved in the form of C and their knees are bent above their hips positon. After they are born, their body needs to be carried in the same position because their bones will take time to strengthen and grow out of that fetal position. So when a baby is stretched or carried in a position that doesn’t match or is opposite of that fetal position, it is deemed unhealthy for their growth. One such unhealthy position is legs stretched below in extension of the baby's hips with straight knees. Carrying a baby in such an unhealthy position for a long period of time can lead to development of hip dysplasia. So doctors recommend healthy hip positioning that avoids the development of this condition and encourage healthy growth of hip joints.
Baby carriers are available in so many shapes and sizes with different added features that are meant for the ease and comfort of both the baby and the carrier. Some features are more crucial to consider when it comes to babies especially newborns because the risk of developing hip dysplasia lies in the first six months of their age. After that their bones and joint have gained enough strength to maintain themselves. So while choosing baby carriers for a newborn, parents need to consider the following essential points in baby carriers.
- Baby carriers with wider base that supports baby’s thighs up to their knees with their hips being stable and less pressured are most suitable for healthy growth of the babies. This creates the best carrying positon which is denoted as M position where the knees are pushed slightly higher than the baby's hips with legs spread far apart while the thighs are entirely supported by the baby carrier’s wide base.
- Avoid buying those baby carriers with a narrow base in which the baby’s thighs are not supported fully and the baby's legs are stretched straight hence dangling downwards. What is wrong in this position is that all the weight of the legs falls on the hip joint of the baby. This position is extremely harmful and can contribute in increasing the condition of hip dysplasia as the downward force can loosen or completely dislocate the hip joint.
- According to International Hip Dysplasia Institute, Slings that cause the baby to position in a way that their legs are held straight and together are also harmful for their health. This is called the cradle position and parents find it easier but it is not a healthy position. The best position is when the thighs are supported and the legs are spread apart so that a stable positon of the hips is maintained.
- If you have already bought a baby carrier with a narrow base you can still help to reduce the chance of developing this condition in your baby. The trick is to add an extra layer with a scarf around his knees so that his thighs are well supported and his hips are not strained with the weight of his legs. You can look for a YouTube tutorial to find out how to best tie a scarf to support baby’s thighs while carrying it in a narrow based baby carrier.
- Always buy a baby carrier or a sling that promotes the healthy M position of the knees and the C curve of the spine instead of forcing the spine to be straight.
- It is important to understand that this care is vital in the initial years of infancy. When the baby begins to walk it means their muscles and joints are strong enough to manage the weight of their own legs. So in toddler years you don’t have to worry about supporting their thighs fully while wearing them in a baby carrier as tall babies or babies with long legs might not be able to get full thigh and knee-to-knee support even in a wider based baby carrier.
- Lastly it is crucial to understand how to make the best use of the baby carrier that you finally choose to bring home. Even with a baby carrier that is best for hip dysplasia you need to be aware and careful at all times that your baby is sitting comfortably with their legs and spine well supported.