Your baby was all curled and scrunched up inside your womb for nine months. The knees are naturally bowed inwards when a baby is born. “Naturally bowed” here refers to the fact that the leg bones, owing to their curled up position for months, are bent in such a way that when you put your baby’s feet together, the knees are not touching each other. They are, instead, wide apart. Further, the front part of baby’s feet might also appear to be curved in. Again, it is due to the baby’s position in womb, where the child did not have, literally, much leg room!
clubfoot in baby

Should I Worry About My Baby’s Crooked Feet?

In most cases, your baby’s crooked feet will get self-corrected. As babies grow, they do a lot of kicking in the air, lying on their back. These kicks in fact help correct the curve in the bone. Additionally, slight stretches by you also can help in correcting crooked feet. How do you know your baby’s crooked feet can be corrected? Take the baby’s feet gently in your palm. Notice how the front part of the feet is slightly curved inwards. Now gently hold on to the heel and try to stretch the upper part of the feet so that the foot looks straight again. If you are able to do this with simple and gentle stretches, then you have nothing to worry. The “crookedness” will self-correct itself in few months. Continue these gentle stretches regularly to help the bone correct itself. When the baby is sleeping, try to ensure he does not curl up into a fetal position again.

When Should I Worry About My Child’s Crooked Feet?

So, as we said, in most cases, crooked feet is caused due to baby’s position in the womb and it generally self-corrects itself in the next few months, aided by the baby’s kicking and your gentle stretching.
However, in some cases, the curving or the bent of the feet is a bit too much to be resolved on its own. Watch out for these four symptoms:

  1. You are not able to straighten the foot with simple stretching (as we explained in previous section)
  2. The feet show no sign of correcting itself in the first 2 months
  3. The front part of the feet is curved at a much larger angle than is usual
  4. You see a deep crease in the sole of the feet

In these cases, you should talk to your child’s doctor, who in turn will refer your child to a child orthopedic specialist.
Mother massages baby's feet

What Are The Other Leg Disorders That Can Affect My Baby?

There are also other disorders that can affect the legs:

  • If your child is born with toes pointing downward and inward at an angle, then he has what is called clubfoot (Talipesequinovarus). Not painful for the baby as such, but clubfoot can hamper your baby’s walking abilities and may cause additional health problems if not addressed properly. However, the deformity can be usually corrected with measure like casts, physiotherapy, or surgery
  • If your baby is born with the front of the feet bent inwards towards the body, then he has a condition called Metatarsus adductus. It is believed that this condition is caused by abnormal positioning in the womb. This condition usually resolves on its own, and for cases where it doesn’t, casts and braces are used to correct it
  • If the baby is born with his foot bent upward and outward at the ankle, the condition is called Calcaneovalgus. The bent is towards the front of the leg, and is caused by unusual positioning of the foot in the womb. It usually gets corrected on its own, with gentle stretching, but in severe cases casts and/or surgery may be used

How Can Various Leg Disorders In Babies Be Corrected?

There are multiple ways in which the above mentioned problems are corrected:

  1. Stretching: Stretching exercises, if done regularly, make a lot of difference. At times, you might have to do it for 4-5 times in a day for months. But it definitely will improve the structure of baby’s feel and legs
  2. Serial casting: Your baby’s orthopedic will put your baby’s feet in a cast to correct the shape. It is called serial casting because the cast is changed every two weeks to fit the new shape of the feet
  3. Surgery: If the curve is very pronounced, then the doctor might advise surgery to correct it

Most of these treatments are known to give positive and desirable outcomes. The most important thing to remember is that the success of the treatments depends on how early you begin it. Infant feet are easier to be corrected that older babies. Adult feet are very difficult to be corrected. So if you are unsure about how crooked your baby’s feet are, and worried if it would self-correct itself, then you should, by all means, talk to your child’s pediatrician and consult an orthopedic specialist. This will help rule out any serious disorder. And in case there is a disorder, you will be able to start a treatment immediately.