Guides

Bow legs

Bow legs

About bow legs in babies and children

Bow legs happen when the bones in each of a baby's thighs and legs line up differently while the baby is growing.

Most children aged 18 months to 2 years have some bow-leggedness. It's more common in babies of above-average weight.

Bow legs are sometimes more noticeable when children start to walk.

Bow legs can be the result of other problems like rickets - which is a vitamin D deficiency - but this is very rare.

Symptoms of bow legs

If your child has bow legs, you'll notice that when she stands with her feet together, her ankles touch but her knees are apart.

Does your child need to see a doctor about bow legs?

You should take your child to see your GP if:

  • your child is over two years of age and has very severe bowed legs
  • there is bowing on only one of your child's legs
  • your child has pain or a limp.

Treatment for bow legs

If your child has bow legs, his legs will usually line up properly by the time he starts school, and he won't need any treatment.

If the bowing doesn't improve after this age and the bow legs are severe, a specialist might think about night splints. These are a type of brace worn at night to try and straighten the legs. They might be a bit uncomfortable for your child, but they're not usually painful to wear.