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There are many possible reasons why your toddler might not be walking (well) and bowed legs probably aren’t responsible for it.

As parents, we feel proud when our child starts walking early, especially if they do it before their peers. It’s so silly when you actually think about it because we don’t influence it in any way and it’s not even our accomplishment to be bragging around.

This is why I always say to myself that raising children is not a competition. They are not our projects, and there’s no need to rush them into reaching any milestones before they’re physically and mentally ready. It shouldn't matter if they start walking with 10 or 15 months of age, as long as they’re healthy. The only time we should get worried is if we notice some unusual behaviors, or the child is quite late reaching developmental milestones.

If your child is born with bow legs, don’t despair! It will likely go away on its own before the child is three years old. If she has difficulties walking, it will fix as well with loving support and practice.

What are bowed legs?

When a person stands with their feet together, if there’s a noticeable space between the lower legs and knees, then you can say that this is a person with bow legs, or genu varum. Bowleg is a common condition equally present worldwide, especially in toddlers. It’s a result of outward curvature of one or both legs. [12]

Some children are born bowlegged because of the bad positioning inside the womb. The condition is even more noticeable when a child begins to stand and walk. Bowed legs eventually straighten out, and by the age of three most toddlers don’t even appear bowlegged anymore.

If bowed legs are caused by some genetic disorder and are more severe, they won’t go away without surgery.

Can baby walkers cause bow legs?

There are parents who love their baby walker, and there are those who can’t even imagine purchasing one. They’re either loved or hated, there’s no middle ground here. Baby walkers are dangerous, it’s a fact. A child can move around freely and has easy accessibility to hazardous product, sources of heat, stairs to roll down, and many other potential dangerous things and situations. [3]

Probably because they’re so hated by many people, a myth has been around for years that a baby walker can cause bow legs in children who use one. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, bow legs can’t be caused by using an infant walker, but rather by the bad in-utero position.

Is there a way to correct bowed legs?

  • Patience — If a child is younger than three, just wait; this type of bow legs is called physiologic genu varum and it tends to go away on its own by the age of three or four. [4]
  • BracingAlthough physiologic genu varum doesn't require treatment, bow legs caused by Blount's disease (tibia vara), or rickets do require one. Infantile Blount's disease, if caught early, may be completely corrected by braces. However, this won’t be effective for adolescents or adults with Blount's disease.
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplements — If bow legs are caused by rickets, it’s necessary to treat the disease with supplements. [5]
  • Surgery Severe bow legs can’t be corrected without a surgery. There’s a procedure called oseotomy — an operation in which a shinbone is cut to change its alignment. If bow legs caused by Blount’s are not corrected with braces by the age of four, a child will probably require a surgery. [6]

So, do bowed legs cause delays in walking?

You shouldn't see children as small versions of grown-ups. Their legs don’t necessarily have to look the ways grown-ups’ legs look. From birth to bone maturity, a child will go through several stages. Throughout these stages, the appearance of lower extremities and the form of walking will differ from that in adults.

Bowed legs may cause your child to walk in an unusual way. Research has found that wearing diapers affects infant walking; then of course bow legs will affect moving and coordination as well, but according to experts the condition doesn't usually cause big delays when it comes to learning to walk. [2, 7

Remember that there’s nothing you can do to prevent or cause bow legs in your child. A baby walker or the way a child sits is not something that causes bow legs, in spite the myths that circle around.

It is completely normal for a child that has just started walking to be “bowlegged”, to have so-called “knock knees” or “pigeon toes”. Luckily, more than 40 percent of bow legs or genu varum cases end up being the physiologic form and go away in the early childhood. [89]

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