When Children’s Feet Point In, Out, or Down

feet of baby sitting in grassA little baby’s legs seem flimsy and wobbly (but awfully cute!), and you’d be forgiven for thinking there is no way they will ever support that little body. Learning to stand and walk is a long process, with many stops and starts along the way that make you worry whether your child is “normal.” The foot specialists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center want to put your mind at rest: in-toeing, out-toeing and toe walking are very common in those early months, and most of the time the issues will resolve on their own as your child grows.

The variations in the way a toddler’s feet point is due to a twist in the foot or the leg above it. With in-toeing, the shin bone or thigh bone can be twisted inward, or the foot itself could have something called metatarsus adductus, in which the feet are curved so the toes point in. These all may be due to genetics and/or to the way your baby grew in the womb.

Out-toeing is similar, but the tibia or femur twist in the opposite direction and cause the feet to point out instead of in. This toeing out is less common than when feet point in, and in rare cases could be related to a neuromuscular problem, so you will probably want to have your child checked if this condition continues.

Toe walking is also common in toddlers at first, and is usually outgrown. However, this could be due to tighter than normal Achilles tendons or leg muscles. If that is the case, stretches or casting can be used to correct it.

Although most children outgrow these gait abnormalities, that is not always the case. If your two-year-old is still walking on his or her toes, or the feet turn in or out quite far and aren’t getting better, it is time to give us a call at (303) 423-2520 and set up an appointment for us to see your child. We may or may not advise any treatment at this point, but at least you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve ruled out a serious issue and just need to be patient. Check out our online library, blogs, and social media sites to learn more about kids’ foot issues—and yours!

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