Bowed legs in children, is it normal?

In bowed legs, the knee appears to bow out from the body and does not touch, however, the feet do. All babies are born with bowed legs. However, parents notice bowed legs when children begin to walk at around 12 months. The bowed legs tend to straighten with age between 18 and 24 months.  So it is normal for infants to be born with bowed legs.  The bowed leg in children which gets corrected with age is called physiological bow legs.

Cause of physiological bowed legs –

Bowed legs in the newborn are because of the folded position of the foetus in the uterus. This actually increases until the age of 18 months, and then the legs straighten as the child grows.

Treatment of physiological bowed legs –

Physiological bow legs corrects naturally so special shoes, braces or exercises are not recommended. If parents are concerned about the shape of the child’s leg, then it may be helpful to take photographs every six months. Photographs should be taken with the child standing with knees facing forwards.

When to visit Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon (Red flag signs) –

  • Your child’s bowed legs are severe

  • Bowed legs persist after age three

  • Only one leg is affected

  • Your child has pain or a limp

  • Your child is unusually short for their age

Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon examination –

The examination begins with a brief history of the child’s development, nutrition habits and any family history of skeletal dysplasia. The doctor will observe the child’s walking pattern, look for any lateral thrust at the knee. Then will evaluate the ligamentous laxity and torsional profile of the limb. Many times, especially in younger toddlers, a thorough physical exam is all that is needed. In some cases, with red flag signs, a radiograph and blood test are recommended.


Bowed legs in a child less than 18 months is normal and usually straighten by 24 months. Any bowed legs after three years are pathological, which needs evaluation and treatment.

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