The bulk of a Cloth Nappy (although modern cloth nappies can certainly be slim in 2022!) often brings up this question, and whilst your baby might have to practice rolling with a little more of a cushioned bottom, it certainly won't stop them, plus it provides a soft landing for when baby starts toddling! Here's all the info.
Let's start with how Babies hips should develop..
Babies Hip Growth
The Hip joint is called the ball and socket. The top of the thigh bone is ball-shaped and fits into the socket on the side of the pelvis, allowing the leg to move both side to side and up and down.
For normal hip development the top of the thigh bone (ball) needs to be inside the socket on the pelvis. It is held in place by ligaments, muscles and a joint capsule. When babies are very young their hips are made of soft cartilage which changes into bone over the first few years of life. For the Hip to grow properly the ball and socket joint have to be held in the right place.
Hip Development and Baby Carrying
The way infants are positioned in the womb and in the first few months of life can effect babies hip development. Breech positioned babies are more prone to hip dysplasia or babies whose legs are 'forced' (wrapped up) straight by swaddling also have an increased risk of hip dysplasia. In the UK the NHS reccomend 'hip-healthy swaddling' to avoid risk to babies hip development as their hips are more flexible for a short while after birth. Hip healthy swaddling involves the legs holding the froggy M position.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
The hip is a joint that is held together by ligaments. Hip dysplasia has a wide range of severity. In some children, the ligaments around the hip joint are loose allowing the hip to partially dislocate. This is when the ball is no longer centered in the socket. Other times the ball is slightly or completely dislocated from the socket.
The NHS Website at current reassures parents that DDH (Developmental dysplasia of the hip) cannot be 100% prevented.
When a baby wears a cloth nappy, rather than hold the babies position from birth into a straight leg position, it would push babies legs further apart due to the added bulk and width between babies legs that cloth nappies give. This is part of the healthy-hip recommendation from The International Hip Dysplasia Institute for carriers, to hold the M position. This position encourages the ball joint to sit inside the socket!
The added bulk of cloth nappies is due to the cloth absorbent materials, rather than the polymer absorbent crystals typically found in single-use nappies. A huge benefit to cloth is the materials avoid chemicals against your little one's sensitive skin. Read more about the benefits in our 'Benefits of Cloth' Blog.
Treatment of Hip Dysplasia
One of the treatments to help babies with Hip Dysplasia in prevention to needing surgery to correct the hip is to wear a Pavlik Harness to help place babies hips in the optimal healthy hip position. Here's an illustration of a Pavlik Harness (International Hip Dysplasia Institute).
As you can see from the photo below, our Reusable Nappies encourage a similar position (although not as wide) to the Pavlik Harness where the legs are further spread apart. Pavlik harnesses are generally used when hip dysplasia is noticed early enough, as the Harness holding babies hips in position can correct their development therefore avoiding surgical intervention.
Using Cloth Nappies with A Pavlik Harness
Below is the account of Kirsty Mum to a little one with Mild Hip Dysplasia and her experience with Cherrybottoms Cloth Nappies with a Pavlik Harness (as photographed above):
"I can confirm they are no harder to take off around the Harness than what a disposable would be. They are so soft on Skylah's skin. The designs are beautiful. We love how adjustable they are, they ensure the best fit for your baby. The nappies don't interfere with her Harness at all and aren't tight around her hips. They still however, ensure good protection from leakage. Sky seems to love them when they are on and her little bum looks super cute in them!".
Plus Kirsty's personal testimonial for our Bamboo Cotton Pocket Inserts:
"I had one of the Cherrybottoms Pocket Nappies on all night the other night and no leaks. Last night I had a leak from a different brand. The liners seem to be amazing".
Skylah has now had her Pavlik Harness removed and Kirsty and Skylah are still succesfully using their cloth nappies!
So, the answer?
Based on research from the sources provided whether you decide to use cloth nappies or not, you are not hindering your babies hip development!
References: www.NHS.uk, https://hipdysplasia.org/hip-healthy-swaddling/, https://hipdysplasia.org/pavlik-harness/pavlik-harness-tips-for-parents/, Charity Steps.
Up to date from 22.04.2022.
If you have experience of your baby wearing a Pavlik Harness and Cherrybottoms Nappies being used that you'd love us to share do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org - We aim to keep sharing and updating!