After all, cloth nappies might be beneficial for your baby’s hips!
Nobody can argue that cloth nappies are bulkier than disposable nappies as the absorbency of cloth nappies is achieved by the use of fabrics that contain your baby’s pee, while disposable nappies contain chemicals that trap liquids. I am going to leave the chemical bit to one side for the time being (I will come back to it, as this was my main motivation for not using disposables with my daughter in the first place).
Some parent are repeatedly told that their babies bulky cloth bums will cause hip problems to their little ones. However the following reason show us clearly how the bulkiness of cloth nappies do not cause hip dysplasia, on the contrary they might be beneficial for your baby’s hips, as they contribute to the prevention of hip dysplasia! Let start presenting some arguments to support our opinion.
The position of new-born legs is well apart from each other. This posture is commonly known as “frog position” or “M”. It is the natural posture (if you look at tiny baby without clothes, it is the one that naturally adopts). It is also the position that must be taken when carrying them, for instance in a sling.
This position does not force the hip to adopt an unnatural position or angle . There are people who mistakenly believe that using cloth nappies forced open their hips making movements difficult, preventing crawling or delaying walking.
Quite the opposite! The use of disposable nappies is a relatively modern invention and they are becoming thinner and thinner. Prior to the 60’s babies wear bulky cloth nappies (way bulkier than modern cloth nappies) and the vast majority of babies did not had trouble walking, or did not end up with open legs forever.
On the contrary more and more paediatricians around the world recommend cloth nappies, because they help to adopt the correct position of the hip, without forcing the union of the femur to the hip. In other words using of cloth nappies means that we keep the baby’s legs apart, which may help reduce the risk of dislocation or hip dysplasia. There is clear evidences that cultures that encourage their babies to adopt a legs open, M position, such as African mums, have a much lower incidence of these problems. You can read more about it in here
Baby’s hips and the use of cloth nappies
When doctors notice that there is mild hip dysplasia, one of the recommended treatments is to put a cloth nappy, to put two disposable nappies or to carry the baby in an ergonomic carrier, aiming to adopt the correct posture of the hip. When the problems is more severe babies are prescribed to wear harness to keep their legs in the frog/M position for at least 6 weeks; some babies have to wear a harness for longer.
The fact that cloth nappies encourage babies to adopt this position is an added bonus to their already, well documented, benefits. As it can be seen in this pictures, the use of disposable nappies makes it easier for the baby’s legs to become stretched in a dangerous position.
On the other hand, the use of the cloth nappies favours the correct position for a natural hip development. As parents we will always have doubts about the health and upbringing of our children, and we all try to make the decisions we think are right, but sometimes the lack of information unable us to make the right decisions.
Although cloth nappies do not correct the existing problem, they encourage the correction of a mild or unnoticed case and instead of damaging the hips cloth nappies prevent these problem form manifesting clinical signs in babies.
With the right information it is easier to make the right decision! And with all the above information we can confidentially say that cloth nappies are beneficial for your baby. You can learn about other benefits when using cloth nappies on your baby. Benefits for him, for his world and for your wallet! Read more here