Hip Dysplasia

Tips for the Pavlik Harness

Here are our tips to make the Pavlik Harness a little easier

It’s no lie that having a baby in a Pavlik Harness isn’t very fun. It adds a whole new layer of complications to consider while caring for your baby, and raising tiny humans is hard work on the best of days!

I’ve compiled a list of some things that we did while Maddison was in her Pavlik Harness for DDH (Hip Dysplasia). These things, which by trial and error, made our life a little easier.

I didn’t know we would be starting a blog during the time she was in the Pavlik so I apologize for the lack of proper images. In addition, this post contains affiliate links to products we used that are available for purchase from Amazon.

Read Maddison’s Pavlik Harness story.

Diaper changes in the Pavlik

The first thing that comes to mind when your baby is in a Pavlik is how to deal with diapering. It is pretty similar to how to diaper without the harness, you just have to navigate the diaper under the harness straps. Remember these three main points when changing a diaper:

  • Do not lift your baby by the legs to slip the diaper underneath. Instead, slide your hand under their backside and lift, then slip the diaper under
  • Keeping the diaper tabs folded in when feeding them under the harness straps will avoid them being snagged on the harness itself. This works for putting a new diaper on and taking an old diaper off
  • If and when you are allowed to remove the Pavlik for diaper changes, in no way should you adjust the vertical leg straps. Those have been put in a specific location by the doctor and should not be adjusted at home

Washing the Pavlik

Poop happens! No matter how hard you try, the Pavlik Harness will most likely end up with poop on it at some point. Don’t stress, it happens to everyone. In the first couple weeks you may not be allowed to remove the harness to wash it, so what do you do? Use a damp microfibre cloth, like the Norwex Enviro cloth to remove the mess. Norwex cloths contain silver in the threads, so it is a natural and safe antibacterial cloth.  Then use a blow dryer on the cool setting to help dry the material.

Once you’re allowed to remove the Pavlik, a mesh laundry bag(Canadian Amazon) (USA Amazon) is essential. The Velcro straps will ruin everything in the wash if the harness is not contained in a bag! The Velcro may also ruin the laundry bag over time, but better the bag than your favourite knitted blanket (as we learnt the hard way…). We washed our Pavlik with our regular laundry detergent and stain remover from Norwex and tossed it in the washer on the express setting. When you only get an hour out of the Pavlik you will want it washed quickly. Then toss it in the dryer on medium and you’re good to go!

*We are not sponsored by Norwex, and this recommendation has received no compensation.

Crop tops and onesie extenders make things more comfortable.


Baby can still wear most clothes over top the Pavlik, excluding pants. They don’t recommend sleepers, but we managed to fit a larger size over Maddison – but we left the crotch/leg snaps undone so it wouldn’t pull on her legs. We found going up a size for a onesie shirt works well over top the harness. And once you can remove the harness, you can put a onesie on underneath. However this didn’t work well with Maddison’s feeding tube, so we cut a onesie into a little crop-top so we would have access to her Mic-key and it worked great!

It was winter during Maddison’s time in the Pavlik so we would cover her feet with socks or little booties. Dresses, tutus and leg warmers would easily hide the view of the straps on the legs. I had seen on someone’s blog the recommendation of onesie extenders to protect the shoulders (unfortunately I can no longer find the blog to give the blogger proper credit). This was brilliant, and well worth the purchase! You can see Maddison has them on in the picture below. I highly recommend purchasing your own onesie extenders, you can thank me later.

Leaving the snaps undone stops from pulling the legs together.

Bathing baby in the Pavlik

While baby is in the harness, sponge baths are your only option. Try your best to avoid getting the harness wet. If there is moisture between the skin and the harness it may cause skin irritation.

Once baby is allowed out of the Pavlik for baths, you can bath your baby normally. You can also ask your partner to assist you in getting in a warm (not hot) bath with your baby. You’ll hit two birds with one stone: skin-to-skin and a bath, win!

Maddison snuggled in the wrap during Remembrance Day.

Baby wearing in the Pavlik

The biggest thing to be cautious with while carrying the baby is making sure their legs aren’t being pulled together. So wraps, and front carriers get a big thumbs up, but slings get a thumbs down. Unfortunately a sling isn’t a good option as it squeezes their legs together. So keep baby’s hips happy by keeping the legs out like a frog. You can always check with your orthopaedic doctor to ensure the fit of the carrier is holding baby’s hips in the right place.

Swaddling can also fall under this category. It’s important that the swaddle doesn’t pull the legs together. We used the Hip Dysplasia Institute approved HALO SleepSack Swaddles, and didn’t have to worry about her hips at all.

I’ve saved the best for last: bonding and skin-to-skin

This is by far the hardest adjustment to make with the Pavlik. Once there is a barrier in-between you and your baby it can be devastating. For us, I was so concerned that I was missing out on the opportunity to help Maddison after her brain injury.
I’ll be blunt: things aren’t going to be the same, but it shouldn’t stop you from snuggling your little one into your chest, even with the harness on. Bonding took some creativity until we were given approval to take Maddison out of the Pavlik for proper skin-to-skin time.

We chose to include positive touch massages into our daily routine. It isn’t so much as a cuddle, but it is still skin touching skin contact which is positive.

We laid Maddison down comfortably in just her diaper and the Pavlik. Without removing any of the straps, I would gently rub and touch every part of exposed skin. I would then run my finger slowly under the straps, gently touching the skin beneath. I’d pray over every part of her body, thinking positive thoughts while giving the positive touch. I would give kisses on her tummy, or play “This Little Piggy” on her toes. All of the touch was positive and healing for both myself and my baby.

Tummy time as per usual in the Pavlik.

For myself, the entire time Maddison was in the Pavlik was a mental game. I tried really hard to look past the Velcro while trying to maintain a positive state mentally. Some days were harder than others; there was a feeling that her infancy was being stolen from me. But I didn’t want to spoil my days with a negative attitude so I tried to enjoy what I could. Hopefully us sharing out experiences can make things a little easier for others. If  you think I’ve missed anything, comment below to share your own experiences!

Sadly, the Pavlik didn’t work for Maddison, so the next step is a Spica Cast. Stay tuned, we’ll be sharing our experience with the Spica Cast soon!

1 thought on “Tips for the Pavlik Harness”

Leave a Reply