Sunday 10 December 2017

Is swaddling a good thing?

Swaddling, which involves tightly wrapping a blanket around a baby, may be about to make a comeback after the way in which Prince George appeared to be enfolded leaving hospital.

But Professor Nicholas Clarke, an orthopaedic surgeon from Southampton University Hospital, says swaddling may damage the normal development of youngsters' hips.

He says that swaddling forces the hips into a straightened position where the legs are pressed together, which may lead to a condition called hip dysplasia.

The condition is not always painful, but can cause joint abnormalities and result in long-term complications, such as osteoarthritis, if left untreated.

Severe cases may eventually require hip replacement.

If a parent does choose to swaddle their baby, tight swaddling that does not allow the baby's hips and knees to move freely is generally not recommended. Care should also be taken to make sure that the baby does not get too hot.

His advice comes in an opinion piece in the journal 'Archives of Disease and Childhood'.

Swaddling typically involves binding or bundling a baby in cloth or blankets with the lower limbs extended (straightened) and the arms restrained. According to Professor Clarke, swaddling is commonplace in some cultures, and approximately 90pc of infants in North America are swaddled in the first few months of life.

It is thought that the feeling of being held tightly within the cloth or blanket helps babies feel settled and aids sleep by recreating the restricted space of the mother's womb.

The author reports there has been a recent return of swaddling because of its perceived effect on promoting sleep and the management of colic (the medical term for excessive and frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy).

There are also unproven claims in the media that swaddling has become fashionable as it is apparently being used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for Prince George, as well as by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Irish Independent

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