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What is the much-named M position?

👉🏻 Also known as the ′′ spread squat position ′′ or jockey position, it's the one where the baby stands with his legs spread and his hips bent, so the knees are slightly higher than the glutes.

👉🏻 It's simply the position babies naturally take when they're in their arms.

The hip joint (or coxo-femoral) is very important because it allows us to support the weight of the body in the upright position and to bear forces even greater than the body weight, such as those determined by movements such as running or jumping . It is formed by the head of the femur and the acetabulum, held in place by ligaments; to get an idea, let's simply think of a sphere (the "femoral head") which rotates and is housed inside a cup-shaped cavity (the "acetabulum", which is also spherical in shape.

For genetic or environmental causes, this joint can be afflicted by some pathologies; among the best known are hip dysplasia and dislocation, which manifest themselves in deformations of the acetabulum or in the upward leakage of the joint cavity of the femoral head, which no longer finds support inside the cup. The characteristic symptoms of these pathologies are delay in walking and claudication.

Some mild hip instabilities are very common among newborns; cases of dysplasia that require treatment because they are serious are instead found in 2-3 boys out of 1000 and mainly in girls (the ratio is 1:4). We try to understand, reporting information from the website of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI)3, what can happen and how it can be prevented where it is not genetic.

When the baby is in the mother's tummy, it stays in these positions for a long time, with the legs folded up and crossed:


After birth, as you can imagine, it takes some time (even more for breech patients) for the baby to naturally stretch the joints. 

If the legs are forced to assume a stretched position too soon, the hips (not yet mature and in soft cartilage) are forced and there is the risk of causing the malformations described above.

To be clearer, here is a drawing:


It is important to know that children, who are much more articulated and flexible than adults, may not feel pain when the posture is forced. For this reason, the symptoms of any pathologies are often recognized late, when the child starts walking.

As with the spine, attention must therefore be paid to the hips especially in the first months of life: the IHDI specifies that, starting from the sixth, they are more developed and the ligaments stronger, therefore the risks decrease. The most harmful position to avoid, swaddling or even carrying the baby, is the one in which the legs are joined and forced into extension with straight hips and knees, i.e. opposite to the fetal position (as in the figure on the right). The risk to the hips is greater the longer the position is held. It is correct, however, when the hips are naturally apart, with the thighs supported by the support and the knees bent.


In this position, called "M" or "folded spread" (often defined by the English term Spread Squatting Position), the child's weight is well discharged without generating pressure on the hips.

According to the IHDI, positions in which free movement of the hips is ensured without forcing promote healthy development of these joints. In fact, it has been observed that in cultures in which babies are traditionally held in an unnatural position (for transport, for example, in supports called papoose, where the baby is swaddled tightly and loaded on the back) there are far more cases of hip dysplasia than in cultures where babies are carried with hips apart. For this reason, when swaddling a child (swaddling, a habit that is becoming very fashionable in the United States), it is necessary to ensure that the little legs are left free to move and not forced.


The IHDI has observed that often not only baby carriers, but also some models of car seats and other commonly used objects, such as elastic swings and bouncers, do not guarantee the correct position for the child's joints. In the illustrations below you can see specifically what is specifically recommended for baby carriers. For example, two commonly used supports are taken, the baby carrier and a sling model (Pouch) and shown how to position the child in such a way that gravity and mass do not force on delicate points.

In the illustration referring to the sling, a child is represented above, forced with his legs closed. In addition to being able to cause hip problems, this positioning carries the risk of airway obstruction and suffocation.

 Below, however, we see an example of a child correctly positioned in M, where the hips (and airways) are safe.




Source: International Hip dysplasia institute, "Let yourself be embraced!" (ed. Trevisini)

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