Skip to main content

Safety and Wellness

Problems With Legs and Feet


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

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: Alfred Atanda Jr., MD
Date reviewed: November 2011


Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)


Miracle Makers 2014 3:07:00Expand

The 30th annual Miracle Makers fundraising special aired on KOMO 4 TV on June 6, 2014. The special takes us on a journey through the hopes, fears, victories and challenges facing patients at Seattle Children's. Cosponsored by Costco Wholesale and KOMO 4. 

Play Video
Overcoming the Odds: A KING 5 TV Children's HealthLink Special 0:44:45Expand

In the spirit of the holidays, patients, parents and doctors share inspirational stories of healing and hope. From surviving heart failure and a near-death drowning to battling a flesh-eating disease, witness how the impossible became possible thanks to the care patients received at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Play Video
Miracle Season 2013 0:57:06Expand

Miracle Season, hosted by Steve Pool and Molly Shen, aired Dec. 8, 2013, on KOMO 4 TV. The annual holiday special celebrates the remarkable lives of Seattle Children's patients.

Play Video