Why Do My Child’s Feet Point In?

by | Jan 17, 2017

New parents (and even those who have had a few children already) tend to obsess over their young children, watching carefully as they learn to crawl, then pull themselves up, then take those first few unsteady steps. While no child gets it totally right the first (or second, or third …) time, with some kids you may notice the feet look a little out of place. When baby’s feet turn inward—a condition known as intoeing or pigeon toes—it can cause parents a lot of stress, but the good news is that intoeing may not last.

Why are baby’s feet pointing inward? Fundamentally, the issue is a slight twisting or rotation in one of the leg bones. The lower leg or shinbone is the most common location for this rotation; this is called tibial torsion. However, the twist could be located just in the feet (which is metatarsus adductus) or, conversely, all the way up in the upper leg bone (femoral anteversion), which causes not only the feet to turn inward, but the knees as well.

It’s not always clear why these rotations occur. There’s some evidence to suggest a genetic component—if mom or dad walked with a pigeon-toed gait as children, there may be a greater chance that baby will, too.

Another possible cause is cramping in the womb. A child’s bones remain soft and flexible, not only before birth, but for several years after. As a fetus grows, the bones may have to rotate slightly to accommodate the confined space of the uterus, and that gentle twisting may not fully correct itself until long after birth.

Fortunately, some forms of intoeing may correct themselves given enough time, typically by age 8 (and often much earlier). Even more good news: kids may not experience pain as a result of the condition, and unless the intoeing is severe, it usually doesn’t cause any significant delays or deficits in coordination or learning to walk.

That said, you should always make a point to see a specialist like Dr. Stuart Birnbaum whenever you notice feet that turn in, whether it’s obvious from birth or doesn’t really appear until baby starts walking. In rare cases there could be a more serious problem at work (such as a neurological condition) that needs to be addressed immediately—and even if that’s been ruled out, it’s still helpful to get a “baseline” examination so we can measure progress in the years to come.

To schedule an appointment for you and your little one with Dr. Stuart Birnbaum and the team at Brook Valley podiatry, call (845) 352-7507 for Spring Valley, NY. You can also complete our online contact form to request a time at either location.

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Spring Valley

263 N Main Street
Spring Valley, NY 10977
P: (845) 352-7507
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