Bow Legged Baby- Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

6 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Bow legged baby - Symptoms,causes and treatment

Pulling up to stand is an important turning point on the way to the baby’s first steps. It requires coordination of all the muscles, including the muscles of the arms, legs, back, feet, etc., and that too all at once. It is quite often seen that, when babies start to stand up on their own legs, their parents notice something, which they feel to be rather abnormal. Here we discuss an issue that bothers parents from the moment they see it (irrespective of how old the baby is) – bow Legged baby /genu varum.

Bowed legs can be observed either on one or both of the legs of the baby. This, even though appears abnormal raising their concerns, rarely gets serious turns and usually resolves its own as the baby achieves more control over its muscle coordination. Read on to find out more about this condition, its treatment, etc.

In This Article

Is Bowed Legged Normal For A Newborn?

Is bowed legged normal for a new born_

Newborn babies are used to bending their legs. It is the consequence of the posture they take over when they are inside the uterus. There is no sufficient room in the womb for the baby to stretch its legs. This makes the leg bones (which are fairly soft) turn somewhat bent. The legs of the baby can stretch out only after the birth, that too only after a few weeks. Therefore, almost all newborns have some degree of bow-leggedness, which is normal.

Is Bow-Legged Common When A Baby Starts To Walk?

New walkers tend to look particularly bowlegged. That is owing to the fact that, when a youngster first figures out how to walk, they are incredibly watchful before taking each step. Therefore, they bend their knees to properly balance themselves. This bending of the knees is not “bowed leg” and is normal, especially for babies starting to walk unaccompanied.

How Long Does it Remain Looking bow Legged baby?

How long does it remain looking bow legged baby_

Babies will look bow-legged for around a year(obviously varies with babies), till they no longer need to bow their legs for balancing themselves. Finally, the leg straightens as the baby starts to stroll with a more erect stance. This will take, from a few months to a little more than a year, depending on several factors. At any rate, by age three, most babies no longer appear bowed-legged.

When Should I Become Concerned About bow Legged baby?

Though the bowed leg is common among babies, your baby will be really experiencing issues that are more significant if:

  • The bones seem to be bent unequally
  • The bends are extreme
  • The bending seems to get intensifies over time
  • The baby seems to experience pain when he tries to walk
  • The baby declines to attempt to stroll by any means

When Should I See A Doctor About My Baby’s Bowed Legs?

If your child still shows any of the following symptoms, you ought to take your kid to see your pediatrician:

  • Even after the child’s third birthday, his bow-leggedness is prominent and noticeable, it’s worth taking the doctor a look.
  • If the problem affects only one leg and appears to increase over time instead of showing signs of improvement.
  • When the child is experiencing knee or hip pain without any grounds for an injury.
  • If your child is short for his age, if he has issues with walking (pain or a limp), or has problems with standing up straight.

Moreover, if you are worried about your baby, irrespective of his age, it’s worth mentioning to the doctor. Never brush off a mother’s instinct. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry.

How Are Bowed Legs Diagnosed?

How are bowed legged legs diagnosed_

Your pediatrician can usually diagnose bowlegs just by simply observing and examining your child. Different tests your doctor may prescribe to diagnose bowlegs include:

  • Measuring the separation between the knees while the baby is lying down on his back
  • Noting how the child strolls to decide the intensity of variations from the norm
  • Conducting blood tests to check for a vitamin D or calcium insufficiency
  • Taking x-rays to check for any issues with leg bone development or to note any signs of Blount’s disease

What Are The Causes That Can Lead To Bowed Legs In Children?

How the baby inhabited the womb can affect the shape of their legs in the formative years, or even after that. Apart from this reason bowed legs in babies can result from:


Rickets is said to happen when the child’s body is not getting enough vitamin D, or it is not capable of absorbing or metabolizing vitamin D properly due to a genetic abnormality. In such occurrences, bones turn out to be delicate and can bring about a kid look more bowed-legged.

Lead Or Fluoride Poisoning

The most characterized impact of lead or fluoride poisoning on bone tissue is increased in the osteoid (un-mineralized bone) content of the bone. Increased osteoid content makes the bone soft and tended to break. It can bring about bow Legged baby.

Bone Dysplasia

Bone dysplasia depicts a class of different hereditary issues that influence bones and joints and prevent the baby’s natural growth and development. Long bones of the legs are commonly affected, resulting in bowed legs.

Blount’s Disease

Blount’s disease is a development issue of the shinbone (tibia). The lower leg of the baby with Blount’s disease turns inward, looking like a bowleg. The exact reason for Blount’s sickness is unknown. Nevertheless, it is presumed that the impacts of weight along the development plate can be one cause. Toddlers, who are heavy for their age and/or who walk early, are found to be affected by Blount’s disease. Hereditary factor is also suspected of causing Blount’s disease.

Bowing Fractures

Happens only in the kids. Here, the bone bends but does not break. It is usually accompanied by pain and swelling.

How Are Bow-Legged Baby Treatment?

How are bow-legged baby treatment

In the event that your infant is under two years old and his legs are not extremely bowed, no treatment is vital. It will rectify on its own as the baby grows. For cases that are more serious or if the child is more than two years and the issue persists, the treatment includes braces, casting, or even surgery (though not that common) in extreme cases.

Deciding the treatments depends more often on the underlying cause:

  • It is significant to ensure the child is consuming adequate measures of vitamin D. With sufficient vitamin D, and by utilizing braces, rickets can be rectified without surgery. Therefore, it is essential not to ignore its initial warning signs
  • In the event that a child with Blount’s disease has his legs braced earlier, it is more effective, and surgery will not be essential. Treat Blount’s disease with bracing, and the kid is braced with a hip-knee-ankle- foot orthosis (HKAFO) or knee-ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO)
  • If the bowing of the leg persists or becomes worse despite the use of the brace, or if the child has a severe and extreme case of bowlegs, surgical correction may be required
  • The pediatrician will monitor the growth and development of the child’s leg in every six months

Since the difficulty increases to treat bowed leg as a baby gets older(as the bone development will cease eventually), it is advantageous to diagnose and treat this condition as young as possible for the best result

What Happened If Bow-Legged Baby Are Left Untreated?

If the bowed legs do not straighten (or get worse) by the time the child turns 2 to 3 years old, there will be some severe cause behind it. In that event, if left untreated, bowed legs can prompt:

  • Deformities in the legs, including contrasts in leg lengths if only one leg is bowed
  • Trouble strolling and running
  • Higher risk of arthritis mostly affecting the hip and knees in later life.
Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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