Can my baby carrier hurt my new baby’s hips?

February 08, 2013 12:00 AM

While it is well known that wearing baby in a front carrier helps improve the baby’s emotional development by strengthening the infant-parent bond, some new parents worry whether their baby is physically developing properly. Parents who wear their baby in a baby carrier may wonder, “Is this position good for my baby’s physical development?” Here are answers to some questions I’ve heard from babywearing parents:

What are the risk factors for Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip?

There are several risk factors for Development Dysplasia of the Hip—females are more susceptible as are those with a family history of Development Dysplasia. Additional risk factors include breech birth, Oligohydramnios, Cesarean section birth, large birth weight, first pregnancy, swaddling with hips tightly in extension and other musculoskeletal abnormalities.

How does hip/spine development relate to baby carriers?

No evidence or reported cases have indicated that front carriers can cause hip dysplasia.  In order to best support baby, parents should look for a baby carrier that positions baby with infant’s hips abducted (legs spread).

Additionally, no evidence suggests that infant carriers are harmful to spine development.  Please note that a child should never be held in any one position all day, including being held in a baby carrier.

Should a baby in a baby carrier face in or out?

As an infant, baby should face inward to keep her head and neck stabilized and to protect her airway.  If the child faces in, parents can feel her breath and know where her head is positioned at all times.  If her head position needs to change a parent can easily adjust the head and neck.

Once baby can hold her head up you can allow her to face out toward the world.  At four months old, babies are becoming interested in what’s going on around them and may prefer to face out.

— Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD

 

Dr. Kelly is a board certified pediatrician on staff at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Kelly is an expert in infant musculoskeletal health & wellness, a mother and an experienced baby wearer.

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