14/08/2014 16:55 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Professor Warns Against Swaddling Babies

A leading orthopaedic surgeon has said mums and dads are risking their babies' health by swaddling them.

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Professor Nicholas Clarke of Southampton University said that the surge in the popularity of swaddling could lead to an increase in the number of babies with damaged hips.

The swaddling technique involves wrapping babies in blankets or a shawl, keeping their limbs imobile. It is thought to help calm them, and replicate the snugness of the womb.

Professor Clarke argues that swaddling restricts a child's movement by holding the legs out straight and can alter the development of the hip joints.

He said that there is 'no health benefit but a risk for adverse consequences of the growing and often immature hips' and that it should not be done.

"There has been a recent resurgence of swaddling because of its perceived palliative effect on excessive crying, colic and promoting sleep," he wrote. "In order to allow for healthy hip development, legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips. This position allows for natural development of the hip joints."

"The babies' legs should not be tightly wrapped in extension and pressed together."

Jane Munro from the Royal College of Midwives agreed, telling the BBC that although swaddling was a 'seemingly innocuous' thing to do, it posed 'significant problems' for the baby:

"We advise parents to avoid swaddling, but it is also crucial that we take into account each mother's cultural background, and to provide individualised advice to ensure she knows how to keep her baby safe, able to move and not get overheated," she said.