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Health & Baby

Delayed Walking and Other Foot and Leg Problems in Babies

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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.

How Serious Is Hip Dysplasia in a Baby?

During the first year of life, a condition called developmental hip dysplasia may appear. This condition causes a baby's hips to develop in the wrong location because of overly relaxed ligaments and joints. Hip dysplasia can lead to delayed walking or other walking problems. That's because a dislocated hip can cause pain that's made worse during weight-bearing. Developmental hip dysplasia is a general term for any number of problems with a baby's hips. This can be found in about five of every thousand newborns. Only about one in 1,000, though, actually has a hip dislocation. At birth the hips and ligaments may be initially unstable on examination but most quickly resolve in the first weeks.

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