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Your infant's feet and legs

Those fat, pudgy feet that seem so cute can be a source of concern to many parents, not because they are fat and pudgy, but because they may appear misshapen and unable to perform the tasks for which they were designed. The reason for this "deformed" appearance is because of the child's cramped position in the womb, which causes the bones in the feet to bend. Fortunately, in most cases, your baby's feet and legs will be fine once he/she begins to walk.

If you have concerns, it cannot hurt to consult your orthopaedist or physiotherapist; however here are some things you need not be concerned about:

Flat feet: Babies normally have flat feet, meaning there is no visible arch. This is because of fat pads under the bottom of the child's feet, which go away around 2 years of age, when the arch becomes visible.

Feet that turn in (in- toeing) or out (out-toeing): This is also due to the baby's position in the womb. As the child begins to walk, the feet should face forward.

Bowlegs and knock knees: This is another common occurrence in babies. They start out bowlegged and end up knock kneed around three years of age. Bowlegs usually straighten out by age four, with normal alignment occurring around nine to twelve years of age.

What should you be concerned about?

  • Flat feet that are stiff, painful and have tight heel cords.
  • Out-toeing or in-toeing which appears AFTER infancy. This should be evaluated by a physiotherapist or paediatric orthopaedist as the condition may interfere with the child's ability to play or take part in sports later on. Fortunately, in most cases, it goes away by itself.
  • Bowlegs and knock knees that differ on each side, or extreme curvature of the leg.
  • Your child's shoes: They should be soft, flexible, breathable and should be shaped like the child's foot. They should have 1-1½ cm between the end of the toe and the shoe.

Children learn by exploring their environment, and if they are unable to do this, their development can be stunted. Therefore, it is important to look after your child's feet and legs during infancy. If you notice anything that causes you concern, it won't hurt to consult your physiotherapist. We are here to help.


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