Doctors warn swaddling could harm your baby

Baby swaddling is on the rise but it could be harming your baby.

April 24 2017

Doctors warn that babies who aren’t swaddled correctly have a higher risk of hip dysplasia.

Swaddling is the art of snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket for warmth and security. 

Nicole Williams, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, told The Sydney Morning Herald that risk factors for hip dysplasiainclude: “having a family history, female babies, first born, breech presentation, large babies.”

She added: "Babies who are wrapped up or swaddled with their legs held tightly together and out straight also have a higher risk of [hip dysplasia] and this should be avoided."

In 2016, an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia, expressed concern after finding an increase of developmental dysplasia of the hip in Australia.

"There is abundant epidemiological evidence for the negative effects on hip development of wrapping, swaddling or carrying susceptible babies with hips tightly adducted and extended,” the paper says.

“There is growing concern among the orthopaedic fraternity in North America, the UK and Australia that a resurgence in the popularity of swaddling, including the increased use of “swaddling cocoons” (which force the lower limbs into extension), places children at risk of late diagnosed DDH.”

Currently, up to 1 in every 50 babies are being treated for hip dysplasia in Australia.

Healthy Hips Australia says there are many benefits to swaddling your baby - if done correctly. They have offered the following tips below. 


  • Position your baby with their hips bent and knees apart; a bit like a frog.
  • Allow room around the hips for movement.
  • Wrap the upper body firmly, but not tightly. Consider swaddling the arms only.
  • Follow SIDS and Kids guidelines.
  • Stop swaddling once your baby is rolling, back to tummy and onto back again, during playtime, as it may prevent your baby from returning to their back during sleep (around 4-6months of age).


  • Wrap legs tight and straight down / pressed together. At this stage in life, the hip joint can be loosened in the straight-legged position.
  • Use sleep sacks and pouches that tighten around the thigh.

 For more information, visit the Healthy Hips Australia website.