Pavlik Harness Care

The Pavlik Harness is a brace that is most commonly used for babies who have hip dysplasia, a hip disorder. Sometimes, it is also used for babies with a femur fracture. The purpose of the harness is to keep the hips and knees bent (flexed) and thighs spread apart (abducted). This position helps allow the hips to grow.  

The Pavlik Harness will be put on your baby by the doctor who will position the straps at the proper place. This position helps the ball of the hips and the socket to grow, as best as possible. The extra length of the straps will be folded and taped down. The straps will be marked at the Velcro level to make sure the strap length stays the same. The doctor will make adjustments during follow-up visits.

Do not remove the harness unless instructed to do so by your doctor. You will have to bathe your baby by giving him a sponge bath. Take special care to check all skin folds, especially behind the knees and in the diaper area. Keep these areas clean and dry.

You should dress your baby in loose clothing. Be sure that the clothing or blankets do not bring your baby's knees together. Do not swaddle your baby in the traditional manner.

The nurse can show you how to put a T-shirt on under the harness without loosening the straps. Putting the shirt on takes a little time, but it will help keep your baby's skin from becoming red and sore.

Booties or socks can be put on your baby's feet by loosening the Velcro bands of the foot stirrups one foot at a time. Place the sock on the foot, replace the foot in the stirrup and fasten the Velcro bands.  Moleskin may be provided to pad the straps to minimize skin irritation.

When diapering, be sure that the diaper is fastened under the straps. If the harness straps become soiled, use a gentle soap on a wash cloth and rub the dirty spot. The strap will air dry.

After your baby has been fed, the strap across the chest can appear to be tight. Only loosen the Velcro chest band while your baby's stomach is full. Snug up the Velcro strap after your baby is more comfortable. You should be able to place two fingers easily between the chest and the chest strap.

When your baby is ready to turn over or crawl, the harness should not hold him or her back.

It is not necessary for your baby to be limited from any activities, as long as the harness is in place and your baby's thigh's stay apart.

Your baby will be monitored with regular clinic visits and imaging studies. Your doctor will tell you when you may start removing the harness and exactly how many hours each day the harness must be in place. It is important to follow the instructions the doctor gives you.

Please call the orthopedic office if you have any concerns. Follow-up adjustments occur every one to two weeks. 

  • Child is unable to actively kick legs.
  • Your baby's feet are swollen or puffy even after the Velcro straps have been loosened.
  • The harness appears to be too small.
  • Areas of his skin become raw or a rash develops.
  • You're having problems adjusting to your child being in the harness and you would like to talk about it. 

If you need to reach the orthopaedic nurse between 8 am-4 pm Monday through Friday, call 513-636-4567. After 4 pm and during weekends and holidays, call 513-636-4200 and ask for the orthopaedic resident on call.


Last Updated 08/2013