Sunday, December 9, 2012

Crotch Danglers read right.  I said Crotch Danglers.  A term I never in my life thought I'd be uttering much less researching and worrying about but alas I am now well educated about the perils of overuse of crotch danglers with babies.

"What is a crotch dangler?" you might ask...well it's one of the millions of baby carriers, car seats, exersaucers, jumpers, walkers, etc that we modern day moms trust our children for hours on end every day.  Did you know that there is an International Hip Dysplasia Institute?  Me neither...but now we both know.  Here is what they have to say about proper hip positioning for babies...

Education Statement:
 The IHDI recommends healthy hip positioning for all babies to encourage normal hip development. Within the womb, a baby spends a long time tucked in the fetal position, in which both hips and knees are bent or flexed.
Baby in a normal womb position.
Baby in normal (fetal) womb position.
After birth, it takes several months for the joints to stretch out naturally. Babies that have been in the breech (bottom first) position may need even more time to stretch out naturally. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. During the first few months of life the ball is more likely to be loose within the socket because babies are naturally flexible and because the edges of the socket are made of soft cartilage like the cartilage in the ear. If the hips are forced into a stretched-out position too early, the ball is at risk of permanently deforming the edges of the cup shaped socket (hip dysplasia) or gradually slipping out of the socket altogether (hip dislocation). Hip dysplasia or dislocation in babies is not painful so this may go undetected until walking age and may also result in painful arthritis during adulthood. The risk of hip dysplasia or dislocation is greatest in the first few months of life. By six months of age, most babies have nearly doubled in size, the hips are more developed and the ligaments are stronger, so are less susceptible to developing hip dysplasia.
The most unhealthy position for the hips during infancy is when the legs are held in extension with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together, which is the opposite of the fetal position. The risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained for a long time. Healthy hip positioning avoids positions that may cause or contribute to development of hip dysplasia or dislocation. The healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development.
Some types of baby carriers and other equipment may interfere with healthy hip positioning. Such devices include but are not limited to baby carriers, slings, wraps, pouches, car seats, exercisers, rockers, jumpers, swings, bouncers and walkers, and molded seating items. These devices could inadvertently place hips in an unhealthy position, especially when used for extended periods of time. Any device that restrains a baby’s legs in an unhealthy position should be considered a potential risk for abnormal hip development. It is also important to assess the size of the baby and match the device and carrier to the size of the child so that the hips can be in a healthy position during transport. Parents are advised to research the general safety and risks of any device they wish to use. When in doubt, we recommend involving your primary health-care provider in any further decision-making that may be medically relevant.
These series of drawings demonstrate typical devices that allow healthier hip positioning in comparison to those which do not.

Car Seat Positioning

Not Recommended:
Tight car seats may contribute to causing hip dysplasia.
Tight car seats prevent legs from spreading apart.
Better:Car seats with leg room to help prevent hip dysplasia.
Wider car seats provide room for legs to be apart, putting the hips in a better position.

Baby Harnesses

Not Recommended:
Dangling legs in baby carriers may contribute to hip dysplasia.
Hip joint forces promote hip dysplasia in dangling leg style baby carriers.Thigh NOT supported to the knee joint. The resulting forces on the hip joint may contribute to hip dysplasia.
Baby carrier should support the entire thigh to the knee joint.
Forces on the hip joint with thigh-supporting baby harness.
Thigh is supported to the knee joint. The forces on the hip joint are minimal because the legs are spread, supported, and the hip is in a more stable position.

Baby Slings

Not Recommended:
Tightly wrapped baby carriers may contribute to hip dysplasia.

Baby carriers that force the baby’s legs to stay together may contribute to hip dysplasia.
Baby carriers should support the thigh and allow the legs to spread to prevent hip dysplasia.
Baby carriers should support the thigh and allow the legs to spread to keep the hip in a stable position

Regarding Baby Carriers: When I was registering for baby gifts I am embarrassed to admit that I had NO clue that there were any options for baby carriers other than the Baby Bjorn.  They had a trusted name and all sorts of medical testaments on their website so I thought I was good to go.   I never realized how often I would like using the carrier so didn't put as much thought into it as other items on our registry.  Hindsight as they say is 20/20.  I love to put N in the carrier and beebop in the kitchen, do some light cleaning, go for walks, etc, etc, etc.  And she LOVES it!  She's my little monkey, always hanging on me in some form or fashion.  Now that I've done more research I've swapped out my Bjorn for a more ergonomically friendly Boba 3g (yes, they give these things names like cars...totally bizarre - our stroller is the BOB Revolution SE, that's sports edition :) ).  I digress...There are 2 main differences between the Boba and the Bjorn...

  1. The Boba has support at the waist, the Bjorn puts all of the support on your upper back so it does hurt your back after a while or as your baby gets heavier.  
  2. The Boba supports the babies thighs all the way to the knee keeping her hips stable.  The Bjorn does not so you'll notice that your baby's legs will dangle pretty much straight down (hence the term "crotch dangler").   

Before having Nicolette I would have had no idea where to begin as far as researching baby carriers.  Luckily I'm blessed to be a part of an amazing support group of July Mommies on Facebook and someone in the group introduced me to a website to help compare many of the baby carriers.  I HIGHLY recommend that anyone with a little one (or expecting a little one soon) to check out this website HERE to help pick out your baby carrier. (I also highly recommend that any mommy-to-bes hook up with a similar online support group with tons of Baby Mamas during your baby's expected birth month...I've had many a question at 2am and was able to easily send it out into cyberspace to my 250+member mommy group and know that at least 1 person (and usually 50 or more mommies) was also awake and had faced the same situation at some other point in time and was ready and willing to offer advice, support and encouragement.)

Sadly, the exersaucers (and jumparoos for those who have them) are also considered "crotch danglers").  This is sad because Nicolette LOVES and I mean LOVES her exersaucer!!!!  I'm not going to take this joy away from her, but I'm also not going to use it as a babysitter.  I keep an eye on her and if she starts to get lazy or tired and start sitting in it rather than standing I take her out and we move on to something else.  This little girl LOVES to stand and has had legs strong enough to push to a standing position ever since she was a wee six weeks old.  So the crotch dangling exersaucer will remain :)

I hope someone finds this information helpful.  I know I would have appreciated knowing all this stuff before our little bambino arrived.  

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