Ask Dr. Mom: My toddler walks “funny”

Dear Dr. Mom,

Ever since my daughter started walking at 11 months, I’ve noticed that she walks “funny”. I’ve been told that she is just “bowlegged” and that it will get better with time. Still, I can’t help but worry whether or not this is true. She really does look a little funny toddling around on those legs of hers!

–Mom of a funny walking toddler

Yes, bow legs are very common in infants and toddlers. In fact, babies are born bow-legged. Meaning, their lower legs have an exaggerated outward bend. As infants transition to walking, some toddlers will have an increase in the appearance of bow legs. This is especially true for toddlers who walk sooner than their peers.

The good news? In most children, bow legs are merely a variant of “normal” and will improve with time. Typically, by the age of two, your toddler’s bow legs will have disappeared and you’ll completely forget you were ever worried about her “funny” walking because now you’re “chasing” your full fledged toddler!

Just to give you a heads up though, you may soon worry about another awkward look to your child’s walking as becoming knock-kneed, where your child’s knees touch (or come close to touching) becomes very common between the ages of 3-6. Again, not to worry…those little legs will straighten themselves out by the time your child reaches the age of 7 (if not sooner).

When there is cause for concern:

If your child’s bow legs do not resolve by the age of two, and instead gets worse.

If only one of your child’s leg is affected.

If your child is noticeably uncomfortable or in pain with movement and/or walking

If you’re still worried. Yes, your worry matters. Talk to your child’s doctor and have your child evaluated

The above “red-flags” could potentially signify a condition such as Vitamin D deficient Rickets or a condition known as Blount’s Disease. These are rare, but should be considered when bow-leggedness is extreme or does not resolve.

Did (or is) your child go through a bow-leg or knock-knee phase? Was it hard to wait it out?

For more information on Bowlegs, Knock-knees, Pigeon Toes, Toe walking, and other common conditions that can cause some temporary “funny”walking, see this article from KidsHealth

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3 Responses to Ask Dr. Mom: My toddler walks “funny”
  1. Vincent Iannelli, MD
    March 13, 2012 | 3:00 pm

    In addition to bowed legs, in-toeing seems to be something that parents get concerned about a lot – typically because the baby’s grandparents are concerned because they remember how kids were often put in braces for these kinds of orthopedic conditions back in the day. Fortunately, that isn’t usually done any more.

    For another resource to reassure parents, check out these these handouts from Texas Scottish Rite Hospital:

    • Melissa
      March 13, 2012 | 4:37 pm

      Thank you, Dr. Iannelli. Great to have another resource for parents!

  2. Emily
    March 14, 2012 | 6:18 pm


    I think that you should do a post on Early Intervention and or calling your local school system when a parent is concerned. Early intervention can help parents with a wide variety of different concerns, we also see children in their natural environment sometimes being able to gather more info that a Dr does in a 20 min well check.