Q: My 5-year-old daughter is pigeon-toed. Do you have any suggestions to help her correct this?
A: Great question! Many young children are pigeon-toed, and it’s often caused by how they were positioned in utero. It generally starts to self-correct after the child becomes more mobile.
If this isn’t the issue, pigeon toe can be caused by how the thigh is placed in the hip joint. The medical term for this is “femoral anteversion,” which means when your daughter is standing without thinking about her posture, her knees and feet turn inward rather than facing forward. A child with femoral anteversion can easily W-sit (that is, when they are sitting on the ground with their knees close together and feet resting to the outside of their hips), and parents should gently change their child’s position when they see them resting in it.
The great news is: Over time dance classes can help develop the rotator muscles at the hip, which turn out the entire leg. That being said, a child with an anteverted hip has to be careful to not just turn out at the ankle to make their feet look right. I’ve seen a lot of pronation problems in young children due to their desire to make their positions look more turned-out than their hips allow.
My suggestion is to see if you can determine what’s causing the pigeon toe, then encourage your child to run, kick a ball and play outside, along with their dance classes. Many children can self-correct pigeon toe by the age of 8—so she still has time to repattern.