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Delayed Walking and Other Foot and Leg Problems in Babies

Most babies can pull themselves up to stand and begin taking their first steps somewhere between the ages of 8 months and 12 months. Soon after their first birthday, they can usually take a few steps alone, but prior to this will have started to 'cruise' -- walking along the edge of a couch or table, using furniture or outstretched hands for support. But what if your baby shows signs of delayed walking? And what if you notice your baby has bowed legs or is walking on tiptoes -- should you worry?

There is a wide variation from one baby to the next in learning to walk. Timing of first steps can also vary between babies of different ethnic backgrounds. One baby may not walk until three or four months after another baby has walked. That doesn't necessarily signal a problem or delayed walking. Both children are likely to be equally healthy and able to run and play as they get older.

Are Baby's Bowed Legs a Concern?

Bowed legs are a common concern of new parents who may not realize that nearly every baby has bowed legs at birth. This outward curve of the leg bones usually resolves itself by age 2. Toddlers usually sway from side to side rather than move forward, at first, making their bowed legs look even more exaggerated. Bowed legs don't cause delayed walking or affect your baby's ability to learn to walk.

In a few rare cases, when bowed legs don't resolve naturally by age 2, your baby's knees can be turned outward by the curve of the leg bones. This can cause knee problems. If bowed legs appear suddenly or persist beyond the age of 2, see your baby's doctor.

Rarely, bowlegs are a sign of rickets. That's a condition caused by, among other things, a lack of vitamin D and calcium in your baby's diet that inhibits bone growth. Bowlegs can also be caused by a relatively rare condition called Blount's disease, which causes abnormal bone growth in the tibia, or lower leg bone. This condition is more commonly seen in African-American children and is thought to be associated with being overweight.

Are Pigeon Toes a Problem for Babies?

Many babies have a slight intoeing, also called pigeon toes, when they're born. This usually disappears during the toddler years.

Pigeon toes may be caused by problems with any of three areas in the leg and foot. There may be deviation of the foot also known as metatarsus adductus. The other source may be problems at the head of the thigh bone at the hip. Finally, this could be due to problems in the tibia or lower leg bone -- internal tibial torsion -- discussed below.

Can intoeing, or 'pigeon toes', cause a delay in a baby learning to walk? 

WebMD Medical Reference

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