This is little Eliana in her hip braces. She was diagnosed a few weeks ago with partial hip dysplasia. It's not uncommon with breech babies, as Eliana famously was. A routine screening showed that she has a relatively mild case and the prescribed course of action is this harness. The success rate with this treatment is quite high. Many babies resolve the condition without intervention, but left untreated there can be serious hip complications throughout a person's life. It can lead to early onset arthritis and even require hip replacement surgery.
Eliana's case is considered mild and it basically means that the hip socket isn't fully formed around the ball at the top of her femur. As a result, her femur can move around in the hip socket (though her hips don't fully dislocate). Wearing the brace keeps her legs pulled up and out and should stress the hips enough to cause more bone to grow around the femur, ultimately alleviating the condition. She is required to wear the brace 24 hours a day, but hopefully she'll be out of it in a month or two.
When they put her in the brace for the first time, knowing she had to wear it at all times, my heart wrenched. She was only a couple of weeks old and it was hard to accept that her precious new life need consist of anything more than nursing, napping and being loved to death by her family.
But then it made me thankful, too. A few velcro leg straps is nothing compared to the challenges that other two week olds often face. I cannot comprehend what a more serious condition does to the hearts of the parents of those children. It must take all their strength just to keep breathing.