Developmental dysplasia of the hip: Tips, tricks and messages from caregivers

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Read about some of the tips, tricks and messages other caregivers have for parents and caregivers who are new to managing developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH).

Key points

  • Use baby gear that will accommodate your child’s harness or brace, such as a lay-flat bassinet stroller, an ergonomic floor/booster seat, and sleep sacks.
  • Buy adaptive clothing made for babies with hip dysplasia, or dress your child in clothing that is 1-2 sizes larger.
  • Keep your child and their harness/brace clean and dry by sponge bathing and spot-cleaning.
  • If breastfeeding, use the koala hold.
  • Try not to miss appointments, ask lots of questions, and follow through with the health-care team’s treatment and protocols.

Learning to manage your child’s developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) often happens at a time when there is already a lot of change happening in your life. It may feel overwhelming to make the changes necessary to treat and manage your child’s condition day to day. Read about some of the tips, tricks and messages other caregivers have for parents and caregivers who are new to managing DDH.

Tips and tricks

Baby gear

Families recommend:

  • A stroller that allows a baby to lay flat (bassinet stroller).
  • An ergonomic floor and booster seat.
  • Sleep sacks/bags.
  • A changing table where the baby can lay with their head away from, and their feet pointing toward, the caregiver. This will make diaper changing with the harness straps easier than if the baby is lying sideways with their head either to the left or right of the caregiver.

"The first day and night are the hardest. Have help for the first two days, if you can. It will be difficult at first, but you get used to it."

"It’s scary at first. Be sad. Let the tears happen. But, remember, its 100% worse for you than the baby."


  • Buy adaptive clothing, protective garments and sleepwear made for babies with a harness for hip dysplasia. You can find different brands of clothing by searching for “hip dysplasia clothes” on the internet.
  • Dress baby in larger clothes to accommodate the harness. Wear 1-2 sizes up in clothing and one size up for diapers.
  • Dress baby in dresses, and bottoms with buttons.
  • Use a collared shirt under the harness to help prevent redness in the neck area.

"Don't get discouraged, it comes off faster than you think, and babies can still do a lot of things, even with the harness."

"Don’t worry; your baby is not in pain."



  • Bathing daily is important. Sponge baths are recommended.
  • Make bath time fun. Love, talk, cuddle and play.
  • Avoid moisture in baby’s creases: wipe baby’s creases with a damp rag.
  • Bibs are helpful to protect the neck area from spit-up.
  • For diaper changes, first put a clean diaper under the dirty diaper, lift baby’s bum up and then remove dirty diaper.
  • Use a pair of toddler or adult socks to help keep the harness booties clean during messy diaper changes.

"Hang in there – this is much more annoying for you than for the baby."

"You are doing what is best for your baby, and they will be thankful when they are older."


  • Spot clean the harness with soap and water when it is dirty.
  • When your baby is allowed time out of the harness by your health-care team, take the opportunity to wash the harness by hand or in the washing machine on a delicate setting, and make sure to dry it on a low/cool setting.
  • Put the harness in a laundry bag when washing so it does not stick to the other things you wash with it.
  • Clean the harness in piecemeal (e.g., shoulders today, booties tomorrow). It makes it easier to dry within a short time frame.

"When you start the process of the Pavlik Harness you are going to feel overwhelmed and really scared for your baby, but it was the best decision we made to have them get it done ASAP. The baby will not even know they are in a harness and before you know it, it will be over."

"For the first few days of the Pavlik harness, the baby will be more fussy, and you might get less sleep – but don't be discouraged. The harness doesn't hurt the baby at all, and things will improve a lot afterwards."

Daily care

  • For breastfeeding mothers, use the koala hold for nursing—baby will be straddling your thigh with their body facing you.
  • Once baby can come out of their harness for an hour a day, tap their feet during bath time to get lots of movement in their legs.

"Everything is temporary, it will be ok. Your baby will adapt—they are so resilient."

"The fact that they found this now, only means baby will be okay later."


  • Try not to miss appointments.
  • Buy a discount multi-use hospital parking pass.
  • Try to ask lots of questions at your appointments.
  • If you can, bring grandparents or friends to help on long hospital days.
  • Make sure to follow through with the treatment and follow the health-care team’s protocols.
  • Give your baby a soother dipped in sugar water or milk during ultrasounds to distract them and keep them calm.
  • Participate in research and study opportunities, if you feel comfortable.

"It is a big adjustment for first time, new parents. Try to have low expectations and understand that this process is harder for parents than it is for your baby. The sooner/earlier you get treatment for your baby, the easier it will be for you and them."

"Be patient with the treatment—all ends well. SickKids did an awesome job. I really appreciate all their efforts."

Other messages

"Sometimes it is hard to get comments from strangers, but do not be ashamed."

"Don't disable your baby with a negative attitude. Normalize your baby's life—modify and adapt."

"Join a hip dysplasia Facebook group. People provide very good advice and great emotional support. It is nice to see other people going through the same thing, and to know that you are not alone."

Last updated: October 24th 2023