Babywearing Research Confirms Hip Healthy Position in Wide-Base Carriers Leave a comment

An April 20, 2023, research study in the Journal of Orthopedic Research confirms that wide-base carriers hold an infant’s hips in a position similar to the Pavlik harness that is used to treat hip dysplasia. [] Researchers led by Erin Mannen, PhD, at Boise State University used ultrasound to study infant hips while the infants were in wide-base carriers [thighs supported to the knees] and in narrow-base carriers [narrow support in groin area]. Ten full-term infants with healthy hips and three full-term infants with mild hip dysplasia were studied in both types of carriers. The authors determined that the hips were more fully in the socket with the wide-base carriers compared to the narrow-base carriers. The differences in hip position in the two types of carriers were more noticeable for the babies with hip dysplasia.

This study supports the “Hip Healthy” position for infant carrying that is promoted by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Infants with hip dysplasia are known to benefit from the Pavlik harness. This research study shows that the optimum position of the hip in the socket is maintained when infants are carried in an appropriately wide-base carrier. Although there is no evidence that narrow-base carriers cause hip dysplasia, the narrow-base carriers may not promote natural improvement. This is especially important during the first six months of life when the hips are developing rapidly as they prepare for crawling and walking. This study also provides a scientific basis for the observation that cultures have a low incidence of hip dysplasia when infants are commonly carried by the mothers with the hips spread around the mothers’ torso by using a wrap or sling. In contrast, the incidence of hip dysplasia is high in cultures that bind infants’ legs together with tight swaddling during the first few months of life.

In summary, this research provides further support to the advice of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute for parents to use wide-base carriers when carrying infants prior to the age of six months. This advice is similar to recommending healthy nutrition, proper sleep, hydration and exercise to promote optimum health. When choosing between a narrow-base carrier or a carrier that fully supports the thighs around the parent’s torso, the wide-base carrier is more likely to promote healthy hip development. More comprehensive information about Babywearing and infant carriers can be found here []

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