What the Docs May Do
Your pediatrician will do a good lower extremity (hip, leg, and foot) exam at every well visit. He will be watching your toddler walk and looking for those rare conditions which require medical intervention.
A few years back, Dr. Thomas Renshaw, then Chair of Pediatric Orthopedics at Yale Children's Hospital, gave a lecture and started by saying, "Our past, as a specialty, is filled with darkness. Procedures that shouldn't have been performed, bracing that was unnecessary, and surgeries that we would never do today."
I remember classmates in grade school wearing Forrest Gump leg braces, kids with both legs in casts, and babies with "special" shoes or shoes purposely placed on the wrong feet. What we now know, is that many of these efforts were unhelpful. Normal development, not the braces, was fixing the problem all along: "Run Forrest, run!", indeed!
Flat feet: Your pediatrician will also tell you that all toddlers are flat-footed. The fat pad of a toddler's foot is situated right at the arch. So although all toddlers look flat footed, you will have to wait until age 6 to find out if your child truly has flat feet.
Bow legs and pigeon toes: Your pediatrician will likely answer the following question multiple times this week: "Grandma thinks that Junior's legs are a bit bowed and his feet are turning in. Is this normal?" YES! Toddlers can be pigeon-toed because their hips are rotated (called femoral anteversion), their lower leg is curved (tibial torsion), or their foot bones are a bit too flexible (metatarsus adductus).
When it comes to these feet issues, keep in mind:
- All are due to intrauterine positioning—every uterus is a tight fit!
- Almost all get better in the second to third year of life.
- None of these issues are dependent on shoes to resolve.
More 13th Month Health Help
Even the most confident parent has concerns about her child's health and wellness from time to time. Learn more about which medical issues are most common at each age, here. (If you have any pressing concerns or questions about your baby's health, please check with her healthcare provider.)