This is very normal, and entirely understandable. When the baby is folded up tightly in the womb, the leg bones become a little curved. Those bones are still soft and growing while the baby is inside the womb. Even when a baby is first born, those little legs are still rather soft as the bones finish setting into their strong and healthy form. They remain a little curved throughout the infant weeks, but when they begin to walk and bear weight on their legs, the legs naturally straighten.
When a child first begins to walk, he or she might look like a bow-legged baby, even if they aren’t. That’s because when a child first learns to walk, they are very careful about where they place their feet. They have to keep their balance, and that’s hard to do. Therefore, they bend their knees to help them balance and support their body weight. This can make them appear bow-legged when they walk. Don’t worry about this at all, as it is perfectly normal.
Only get worried if the bones seem to be curved unequally, or if the curves are extreme, or if the curving seems to get worse over time. If your baby seems to be in pain when he or she tries to walk, or refuses to try to walk at all, then that might make you wonder if a bow-legged baby is actually experiencing more trouble than you thought.
How Long Does It Last?
A bow-legged baby might look that way for several months after they begin to walk. Over time, the legs will straighten and the baby will walk with a more erect posture. The bones will appear to lengthen and straighten as this happens. For some babies this takes only a few months, and for others it might take up to a year or more. As long as your baby is walking normally and doesn’t seem to be in pain, things are probably fine.
What might happen next is just the opposite–a problem called knock-knees. When a child has knock-knees, it means their knees touch when they walk or run. Their lower legs angle out. This is usually noticed between three and six years of age. But just as with bow-legged problems, the knock-knees tend to go away as the child gets older.
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When To See A Doctor
In most cases, your child is probably completely normal, and the problem with being bow-legged will sort itself out in short order. If you are worried about it, take your child to the doctor and let the physician watch the baby walk across the room. If there is any cause for concern, the doctor will spot it.
These are the time when you should call your healthcare provider about your child’s legs:
As always, if you are worried about the way your baby is walking, check with the doctor!
Article adapted from New Kids Center
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