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Delayed Walking and Other Foot and Leg Problems in Babies

Are Pigeon Toes a Problem for Babies? continued...

Metatarsus adductus is the most common cause in the early months of a baby’s life whereas the others effect older children. This is a curve in the foot itself, usually created by the baby's position in the womb before birth although there are other possible factors. You can see metatarsus adductus when you look at the soles of your baby's feet. They'll curve towards each other like two half-moons.

Doctors disagree about whether to put foot braces on a child with severe pigeon toes. Some doctors advise bracing or casting if the feet are still severely curved when a child is 4 to 6 months old. The brace or cast is usually removed when a baby starts to walk. Other doctors don't feel that bracing helps pigeon toes or speeds up the development of the feet and legs toward a more true alignment.

If your baby's knees point straight ahead with intoeing, he may have internal tibial torsion which is more commonly seen at the ages of one to three years. This condition is caused by an inward turning of the tibia (lower leg bone). It usually resolves itself as a baby learns to walk. If it doesn't, see your doctor for possible treatment.

If your baby's knees point inward with intoeing, he may have a condition called excess femoral anteversion. This condition is caused by an inward turning of the femur (upper leg bone) and is often seen in children who sit with their lower legs behind them in a W shape. Again, it usually resolves on its own -- typically by age 8 or so.

In all these conditions, spontaneous resolution is the most common outcome with little or no intervention. However, in all cases where the situation is persistent or worsening you should consult your child’s doctor.

When Baby Walks on Tiptoes

Toe walking is common for most babies as they take their first steps. Walking on tiptoes should disappear by the time a child is 2 to 3 years old. Many babies practice walking on tiptoe as they are first learning to walk. Only later, after 6 to 12 months or so of practice, will they learn to walk with a mature heel-to-toe gait.

Usually walking on tiptoes is not a problem. But if toe walking persists beyond the age of 2 or is done constantly, see your child's doctor for advice. Persistent toe walking, or toe walking on only one foot, can be a sign of a central nervous system problem and should be evaluated.

Can Flat Feet Delay Walking?

Just about every baby has flat feet at birth. It takes time for the foot's natural arch to develop. Flat feet rarely cause any problem with walking and often disappear by the age of 2 or 3. Extremely flat feet can make your baby's ankles appear to bend inward as he or she walks. This happens if the arches don't fully develop to realign the foot and ankle. Treatment is rarely needed except in the most severe cases, and is not generally considered until a child grows past the early infant years. A tendency to flat feet can run in families.

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