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What's A Pelvic Tuck?

April 23, 2020

The babywearing community is talking a lot about the pelvic tuck, the “froggy position”, the J-shape and M-shape. What does it all mean? Let's dive in ...

First let’s take a look at our babies’ amazing anatomy!

Our spine is not perfectly straight, even though it may appear so from the front or back. When you look at a grown person from the side, four slight curves are visible, forming an elongated “S” shape. These curves help keep us flexible and balanced and absorb stresses placed on our bodies through daily activities that impact our spine like walking, running and jumping.

At birth, human babies are in a state of flexion, curled up, with their spine in a natural long C-shaped (convex) curve or a rounded J-shape, so their natural ergonomic position, when they are relaxed, is with their knees drawn up in a comfortable position that resembles the letter M. This position is sometimes also called the “frog” position or the fetal tuck and it’s the most calming and adaptive.

Even when small babies are laid flat on their backs, their thighs would rise up to their chest and would be almost impossible to straighten, so when babies are properly positioned upright on a broad base (supported from knee pit to knee pit and facing their parents) they are optimally supported against the parents’ body even when carried in arms.

The gentle J curve of the lower spine will prop the upper spine so the baby is unable to slump, tilt their head backward or forwards (even newborns) and therefore prevents restricting airways.

The instinctual flexed widespread legs that an infant maintains when picked up, together with the palmar-plantar reflex that helps an infant to cling to his mother, suggests that infants little bodies are adapted to be carried upright and oriented toward their mothers.

This “spread squat” positioning also helps to encourage healthy hip development!

International hip dysplasia institute’s Dr. Charles Price guidelines state that the healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development.

So, what is a pelvic tuck?

The pelvic tuck technique is a maneuver of encouraging a baby to assume an ergonomic position that creates a “J shape” from the side or an “M shape” from the front, which is the most supportive, adaptive and comfortable positioning and most respectful of baby’s anatomy.

How do we perform a pelvic tuck?

The aim is to have our baby in a carrier in a safe ergonomic position with their hips below knee level and their pelvis tilted in a gentle J shape. Not only is this position respectful of the baby’s anatomy, but it also enables our babies to actively contribute to being worn and ensures better weight distribution thus contributing to a safer and more comfortable babywearing experience for both you and your baby!

Hold your baby’s legs under their knee pits and gently scoop them towards your body in an upwards motion. Make sure your baby is supported with the wrap or carrier from knee pit to knee pit and across their back up to their necks!

When wearing your baby in a Boba Wrap make sure you spread both rails of the wrap equally from knee to knee and the horizontal pass all the way up baby’s back and under their bottoms to get a great comfortable deep seat. You can find more information on wearing the Boba Wrap here!