Where would you be without your legs and feet? They do a lot to get you where you need to go. But sometimes, kids have problems with these important body parts. Their legs and feet might look different or might not work exactly the way they should. The good news is that these problems usually aren't serious. They either go away on their own or the kid learns to handle them by using stuff like special shoe inserts.
Pigeon toes, or inwardly turning toes, is a common foot condition in kids. It occurs when the front of the foot is turned inward, facing the other foot. Boys and girls both experience pigeon toes. Most kids' feet straighten naturally without any medical treatment.
When someone stands with the feet and ankles together but the knees widely apart, we call that being bowlegged. Many babies are born bowlegged because their legs were folded tightly across their bellies while they were growing inside their mom. Bowlegs usually straighten once babies with this condition start to walk and their legs bear weight. By age 3, most kids grow out of the condition.
Knock-knees is a condition where the legs curve in at the knees so much that the ankles are separated. Lots of kids become knock-kneed between the ages of 3 and 5. But around age 6, the body begins to straighten naturally, and within a few years most kids can stand with their knees and ankles touching at the same time.
Stand sideways in front of a mirror. Rise up on your toes. Can you see the arch (curve) in the bottom your feet? Most of us have some sort of arch on the bottom of the feet between our toes and heel. Someone who doesn't have this curve might have flexible flatfeet. That means more of the person's foot surface is in contact with the ground. In a typical foot, the arch part wouldn't touch the ground.
Most babies are born with almost no arch in their feet. Within 2 to 3 years, after kids have been walking for a while, the arch develops. Wearing the right kind of shoes — ones that are flexible, not stiff — helps kids' feet develop the way they should.
About 1 in 7 kids never develop a full arch. Very rarely, this requires surgery. Some kids might wear arch supports if their feet hurt. But most of the time, flatfeet don't cause pain or problems. In other words, if your feet are flat, they're fine!
Reviewed by: Peter G. Gabos, MD
Date reviewed: December 2008
Originally reviewed by: Richard J. Bowen, MD