Pavlik Harness

What is a Pavlik harness?

A Pavlik harness is an orthosis (harness) that your baby needs to wear to treat developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). It consists of a chest piece attached to two shoulder straps and two booties.

How to attach the harness:

  • Lay the harness out and undo the chest strap, two shoulder straps and open up the booties
  • Lie your baby on top of the harness and start by doing up the chest strap – leave a few fingers space between the harness and baby for comfort
  • Next, do the shoulder straps up to the line the orthotist has marked
  • Put one foot at a time into the booties and do up the straps.
  • The harness should now be secured on the bay and the six straps that the orthotist has marked will now be in the correct spot.


Nappy changes The Pavlik harness should be left on whilst changing your baby’s nappy. Ensure that you feed the tabs of the nappy through the straps at the back of the legs so that the harness IS NOT inside the nappy. Clothes Clothes can be worn on top of the Pavlik harness – this maximises the amount of time your baby is in the harness as you will not need to remove the harness and clothes to change the nappy. It is okay to leave a singlet underneath the harness as long as you only change the singlet once a day when you remove the brace for a bath. Car seats and prams Some prams and car seats are quite narrow and you may have trouble fitting your baby in comfortably when they are wearing the harness. You may need to use a wider car seat. Holding/positioning/feeding/swaddling
  • Ensure your baby’s knees are kept out to the sides at all times to ensure the hips stay in the correct position
  • Do not push the knees inwards against the harness – you may need to reposition your baby whilst holding and feeding them for the duration of treatment
  • Ensure the blanket is wrapped loosely over the knees when swaddling your baby, so that it does not pull the knees inwards.
Bathing You may remove the Pavlik harness to bath your baby only if you have been instructed to do so. If your baby is required to wear the harness 24 hours per day, you will need to sponge bath them around the harness. Cleaning the brace If necessary, you can clean the harness with cold, mild soapy water. Ensure the brace is completely dry afterwards to avoid irritating the skin. Tummy time Tummy time can be continued while your baby is wearing the harness if you monitor them closely. Most babies don’t appear to be uncomfortable on their tummy in this type of harness but if you are worried about this then prop a thin pillow underneath your baby’s chest to help with positioning. Getting used to the Pavlik harness It will take you and your baby a little while to adjust to wearing the Pavlik harness. Each baby reacts differently to the harness – some don’t notice they are wearing it and others become quite unsettled for days, this is normal. The harness is not causing your baby any pain, it is just frustrating as they cannot kick their legs freely while wearing the harness. Follow up appointments The orthopaedic surgeon or paediatrician will regularly review your baby every 4 to 6 weeks throughout the length of treatment. The Pavlik harness will be reviewed by us every two weeks Please remember:
  • The Pavlik harness is not causing your baby pain – they may cry until they are used to wearing the harness, this is normal. Please persist with the Pavlik harness treatment!
  • Do not adjust the harness yourself. Should you feel it requires an adjustment or review please contact us.
  • You have my mobile number.
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