My baby's legs turn outward, is there something wrong?

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Physiotherapist, Shane Hodges, answers: 

There is nothing wrong with your baby. In fact, it’s quite normal. Up to the age of three, children may have physiologic bowing of their legs or pigeon toes. The primary features of this condition are symmetrical and painless bowing, with associated in-toeing and frequent tripping over feet. The majority of children outgrow this without any intervention.

Bowlegs are common because of babies being cramped in the womb, spending a lot of time on someone else’s back and wearing bulky nappies. As toddlers progress through their phases of development they usually outgrow this. However, if the bowing and in-toeing persist after three years or if are visibly getting worse, speak to your paediatrician. Follow these guidelines to decide whether this is necessary:

  • DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES: Your child is falling behind on her milestones, and has bowlegs and in-toeing.
  • ASYMMETRY AND PAIN: If the bowing is visibly more curved one leg than it is on the other it may indicate Blount’s Disease. This can be treated with a brace. Also consider assessment by a paed if your child complains of any pain in her back or leg joints.
  • FLEXIBILITY: When your child is lying on her back, can you move the foot into a neutral position with minimal difficulty? If so, it is likely that you have nothing to worry about. If you find the foot is stiff and doesn’t move easily, there may be a problem.

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