Hip Dysplasia Guide

Developmental Dysplasia of the hip (DDH), or ‘hip dysplasia’ as it’s more commonly known, is when the ball of a baby’s hip doesn’t sit properly in the hip socket.

This can cause the hip to become unstable. Whilst common and treatable, it can cause problems later in life if left undiagnosed.

Hip instability is the most common musculoskeletal birth anomaly in the world and affects 1 in 6 newborns.*

Hip Dysplasia Guide

How does DDH affect sleep?

A child wearing a brace will need to keep the brace on during sleep.

  • Follow their regular bedtime routine as much as possible
  • Use a specially designed swaddle or sleeping bag to fit comfortably over their brace, such as our Hip Harness Cocoon Swaddle Bag or Hip Harness Jersey Sleeping Bag
  • Put your child to sleep on their back in a safe-sleep space suitable for their age, size and developmental stage
  • To make them more comfortable, try rolling up the end of the sleeping bag and propping it under their legs/brace.

How does DDH affect sleep?

Diagnosis and treatment

In Australia, your healthcare professional should check your baby’s hips at birth, 1-4 weeks, 6-8 weeks and 12 months (or every MCHN appointment up to 12 months). If you notice symptoms that are going undetected at check-ups, please alert your GP or Maternal Child Health Nurse.

If your healthcare professional suspects DDH, your baby may be sent for further testing. This could be an x-ray, ultrasound, or you may be referred to a paediatric orthopaedic specialist for a second opinion.  

For mild and moderate DDH, children generally wear a hip brace (orthosis) for three months, 23 hours of the day. For more severe DDH, babies wear braces for six months or longer. Babies with more severe DDH may require surgery.

Diagnosis and treatment
What are the symptoms of DDH?
  • One of your baby’s legs looks shorter
  • Your baby’s legs are tight when you try to open them to change his nappy
  • Your baby has uneven thigh or buttock creases
  • Your child limps, avoids weight-bearing or walks on tippy-toes as she gets older
  • Your baby holds their weight off to one side when sitting
  • A popping or clicking sound or feel when hip joint is moved
What are the symptoms of DDH?
Advice from a physio

“Being in the harness may affect physical development right now, but once they are out of the harness, they will have time to develop these skills. 

Whilst in the harness, take time to focus on your child’s emotional wellbeing, engage with your child. Feeding may feel different, tummy time can be tricky, and cuddles may feel different, talk with your physiotherapist or other healthcare professionals to get more ideas of how to engage with your child and how to make them feel most comfortable.”

Jessica Shanahan, Physiotherapist

Advice from a physio

Did you know...?

A quick summary of DDH

Meet the Hip Harness

Cocoon Swaddle Bag

Essentials for a swaddled babe

From womb to world, ergoPouch has everything you need for safe, warm and uncomplicated newborn sleeping.

Meet the Hip Harness

Jersey Sleeping Bag

Essentials for an arms-out sleeper

Providing a safe, consistent sleep environment will go a long way to helping you and your mini navigate the infant stages of sleep in their brace. Our TOG-rated baby sleepwear will go a long way to faster settling and gentle soothing.

Essentials for when the brace comes off

As your baby settles into their new braceless sleep routine they may want more freedom to move in their sleepwear.
Helpful Resources:

Raising Children website

Healthy Hips Australia website

Hip Sleepers website

IDHI website

Facebook Group

Speak to your GP, MCHN, Paediatrician or paediatric specialist if you have concerns about your child's hips.

Helpful Resources: