Hip Dysplasia and Car Seats

Posted by Julie Monson on


Julie Monson
Occupational Therapist and Car Seat Technician

What is a healthy hip position for babies?

There are many swaddles and carriers available that position a baby’s hips in the most unhealthy position. This is when the legs are held out straight with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together. This is the exact opposite of the foetal position. The risk of developing hip dysplasia increases when this unhealthy position is maintained for prolonged periods. 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 naturally fall or spread apart to the sides, like an “M” or frog position, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development.


Healthy hip position for babies

Image credit: International Hip Dysplasia Institute

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is the medical term for general instability, or looseness, of the hip joint. This allows the hip joint to become partially or completely dislocated. Babies can be born with hip dysplasia, or incorrect positioning can cause the hips to become dislocated.

Doctors check babies for hip dysplasia at birth and at check ups. You may notice your baby’s hip/s clicking while you change them, or one hip may feel less flexible that the other. It may be more noticeable around the time they start learning to walk, and a limp may develop. If you are concerned about your baby’s hips, consult with your Paediatrician who will assess further. If your baby is diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia, he/she may require a brace to ensure the hips are kept in a better position for hip joint development.

Hip Dysplasia and Car Seats


While your baby has to use the brace, it can be very difficult to position and strap your baby into a regular car seat. Regular car seats do not provide the flexibility, comfort and safety that a baby with hip dysplasia needs. But the Maxi Cosi Opal HD does.

Maxi Cosi have more than 30 years experience in research, development and crash testing of car seats. They have their own laboratories where the check, examine and test new materials.

The Opal H.D was especially designed with the support of Paediatricians to give extra back support and space for the hips to fall into the M-position that children with hip dysplasia require. The Opal HD adjusts from sitting to sleeping for your baby’s comfort. It is used in rear facing, which is safest, until 13kg/approximately 15-18 months. Then Opal HD must then be turned to face forward until 18kg.

The Opal HD isn’t for sale. Instead, the you may rent the car seat through Precious Cargo, while your child is receiving treatment.  Please note that this service is only available in South Africa.



The Opal H.D car seat was especially designed with support of paediatricians and gives extra back support and space for the hips that's so vital for children with hip dysplasia. 

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  • How can I get one of these in the United States? I need one for three months.

    Serena on
  • Hi Jackie. Are you in South Africa?

    Precious Cargo on
  • Hello my 18 month old granddaughter has a late diagnosis. We need to hire a car seat/buy.
    We also need to know about beds.
    Anyhelp would be greatly received.
    She is to have an emergency op in the next 2 weeks. :(

    Jackie on

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