When my daughter Sarah was born, two weeks late – I might add – I never believed I could love another baby as much as I loved my son, Joey…but here she was! Our little sunshine!
When babies are still tiny, the doctor will lie them down on their backs and bend the baby’s knees up in to their chest and roll their little legs around a little bit. What they are checking for is a “clicking” feeling coming from the hips. If a baby has that “clicking” feeling from one side or the other, or in our case, both, then your pediatrician will refer you to an orthopedic doctor.
Well, at Sarah’s 6 week well visit, the doctor could feel that clicking sensation. So, we were on a little journey to learn about what was called Hip Dysplasia.
After a sonogram of each of the hips, we found out that (in laymen’s terms) the hip socket had not fully developed around the top of her leg bones. What we learned was this…all that flipping and kicking, pushing and movement that babies do while still in the womb…it’s all actually very necessary! So, be happy when you feel those kicks to the ribs! While their soft little bones are developing, the movement of the leg bone in that socket actually “teaches” the hip socket exactly how far to form and grow for proper hip development…which of course will be necessary for gross motor skills later in their lives! Everything from crawling and sitting all the way to running down the court in a basketball game, those hip sockets have to hold on properly to that leg bone!
In Sarah’s case, she didn’t move much in the womb. Just like her personality today, she was perfectly happy to sit on the left side of my belly and just be content in her “spot”. Since she didn’t move around much, her hip sockets did not develop fully around the leg bone, which was picked up with that clicking feeling at her well visit.
So, now what to do! She was fitted with a little harness that literally went from her shoulders to her feet and it pulled those chubby little knees up in to a frog position. Other than bathing and changing her diaper, she pretty much needed to wear it all the time. By being in that froggy position (knees pulled up and open) her hips would get the message to develop the socket more fully around the top of the leg bone. Lucky for us, it was summer, so I broke out my bedazzler and made it cute! She would wear an onesie at home with her harness, and a little dress worked nicely over it as well. There was no reason to worry about the cold! I realize that style was really not the issue, but hey! I had to make it cute…couldn’t help myself.
Her harness was made of fabric, and the doctor helped us to determine the fit after regular sonograms on the hips and rechecks. She was quite pleasant throughout! It is extremely important to catch this early on while their bones are still soft and growing. The older a child is, the harder their bones become, thus making it more difficult to treat.
An early intervention physical therapist would be a great resource if you are experiencing this with your child! They will be able to help you figure out ways to get that necessary tummy time and work towards sitting and crawling while using that harness. What a great help that would be!
Share your story with us. Have you or someone you know experienced hip dysplasia with their baby? In Sarah’s case, she was harness free and no more clicking by six months old. What was your experience? Comment on the blog to share!