Preventing developmental dysplasia of the hip

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While DDH cannot always be prevented, there are hip healthy practices that may reduce the risk of developing DDH. Read about the practices and equipment that may help.

Key points

  • Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) cannot always be prevented.
  • Hip healthy practices can help reduce the risk of developing DDH.

Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) cannot always be prevented. However, there are some things that can be done to help reduce the risk of your child developing DDH.


Healthy hip positioning is recommended for all babies to encourage normal hip development. A healthy hip position is when a baby’s legs fall out to the side with the knees bent naturally in a "frog position", allowing them to move freely.

The least healthy position is when the hips are stretched down together with the knees straight and held in this position, such as when a baby is tightly swaddled. During the first few months of life, a baby’s hips are quite flexible. The socket of the hip joint (the acetabulum) is lined with soft cartilage. If a baby is swaddled such that the hips are forced into a stretched down position too early, the edge of the acetabulum may become damaged leading to DDH. As this is not a painful position for babies, it may not be detected.

Baby carriers, seats and other equipment

Some baby carriers do not allow for hip healthy positioning. If the hips are placed in a position in which they are extended downward together and held in this position for a long period, this may pose a risk to the hips. It is important to consider the size of the baby in relation to the device they are being held in to ensure that there is enough room for their hips to be in a healthy position.

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute, a not-for-profit effort to improve the health and quality of those affected by hip dysplasia, has a list of hip healthy products for the first six months of life on their website: Hip-Healthy Products.

Hip-healthy swaddling

If you choose to swaddle your baby, it is important to learn how to how to do it properly to protect the hips. Hip-healthy swaddling involves leaving enough room for the legs to bend up and out at the hips and have freedom of movement. This allows the hips to stay in a neutral position in which the hips can develop naturally.

Watch the video below to learn hip-healthy methods of swaddling your baby.


Sleep sacks

Sleep sacks are often used by parents as an alternative to swaddling. These products are designed for swaddling instead of using a blanket. It is important that when using these products, the legs can spread apart and bend up, allowing plenty of hip movement.

Here is a list of some of the sleeper systems that are deemed "hip healthy" by The International Hip Dysplasia Institute: Hip-Healthy Swaddling.

Last updated: October 17th 2022