What I Wish I Knew Ten Years Ago About Bowed Legs
“When do babies’ legs straighten out?” I asked my mom.
She didn’t give me an exact answer, but she gave me “tips” on how to avoid them.
But here’s where it gets interesting.
My mom is very traditional. She’s the type of mom who’d use herbs when we got sick. I call her the “essential oil momma.”
Don’t get me wrong.
I don’t discount the effect of essential oils. There have been plenty of times it saved me a trip to the hospital. But kids are different.
Our babies’ system is not complete by the time they are born. They have to undergo plenty of adjustments as they grow up.
Hence, any irregularities in their patterns should be carefully observed and consulted with a medical professional. Essential oils are merely supplements.
Anyhoo. Back to what I wish I knew ten years ago.
The tips my mom told me to avoid bowed legs are:
- Do not carry your baby on your hips. It will aggravate the bowed legs.
- Massage the legs every day to straighten it.
These tips, in fact, could be detrimental.
But I don’t blame her. Again, this is just what her mother probably told her, so she’s passing in on to me.
Why Is It Detrimental?
According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, when the knees are straight most of the time and the legs are brought together, it may cause hip dysplasia or dislocation.
What’s safe is allowing the legs to fall naturally apart to the side.
“The healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development.”
Are Bowed Legs Natural?
Our babies’ position in our uterus plus the fact that they have loose muscle is the cause of bowed legs.
Hence, when they come into the world, her knees aren’t supposed to touch when her ankles are touching.
If you’re wondering whether my kids developed hip dysplasia, I’m happy to say that they didn’t. But I had a hard time carrying them because my mom won’t let me carry them on my hips.
For me, it was the easiest position because I can get one hand free.
But all has been said and done, and I still don’t blame my essential oil momma.
Now let’s go to the main question:
When Do Babies’ Legs Straighten Out?
Three years old.
But it’s not an overnight incidence.
Your baby’s legs don’t magically straighten out on her third birthday. It straightens out gradually. Once your baby’s bones are stronger and she starts to walk, her legs will also start rectifying itself.
By age 3, the bowed legs should be outgrown.
If they don’t your little one may have Blount’s disease, rickets, or a genetic disorder known as hereditary hypophosphatemic rickets.
What is Blount’s Disease?
According to Children’s Hospital Colorado, this disease is “the abnormal growth in the upper part of the shin bone (tibia) causes the legs to bow.”
What is Rickets?
Mayo Clinic defines rickets as the “extreme and prolonged Vitamin D deficiency.” The dearth of Vitamin D in our bodies causes our bones to be soft and weak, otherwise known as rickety.
What is Hereditary Hypophosphatemic Rickets?
This disorder is caused by low levels of phosphate in our blood. If you remember science class, our teacher told us that phosphate is necessary for the proper formation of the bones and teeth. Without it, our bones will be rickety.
How To Differentiate Bowleggedness from The Rest
If your child is more than three years old, observe her legs when standing or walking. If her feet turn in or she has an awkward walk, it’s possible that it’s Blount’s disease.
Also, check whether her knees come together when standing with her feet and ankles together. If they don’t, it could be Blount’s disease.
However, If your child is under three, it is almost impossible to differentiate the two. But there are instances when one leg is severely bowed and the other is not. In this case, ask your doctor about it.
You may see other symptoms such as the late tooth eruption, swollen wrist and ankles, and late crawling and walking if it’s rickets.
If it’s a genetic disorder, you may see dental abnormalities and/or craniosynostosis, the condition mistaken for flatheads.
How is The Rest Diagnosed?
An X-ray is a common imaging test conducted for this disease. This is ordered after a thorough examination of your child’s legs.
Is x-ray necessary?
Yes. This procedure is needed to know whether it is indeed Blount’s disease or something else such as rickets. If your doctor suspects the latter, she may order a blood test to confirm.
As for the genetic disorder, the doctor may add genetic testing.
Don’t worry though, although these three rarely happen. In fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services says, the genetic disorder affects only 1 in 20,000 babies.
That’s 0.005% chance of your child getting it.
Can these be treated?
Early management and treatment are necessary for these disorders. Hence, if you suspect abnormalities in your baby’s legs, tell your doctor about it.
Also, if you know someone in the family with the genetic disorder, let your doctor know.
Management of these diseases may be outpatient but for very little ones, conscientious follow-up and careful monitoring are required.
Always observe your little one. I always tell my readers that it’s better to be overprotective than under-protective. You can ask “When do babies’ legs straighten out?” several times, and it’s perfectly OK.
And, for what it’s worth, if something bothers you, talk to your doctor for peace of mind.