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Bow legs and knock knees in children

2-minute read

Very young children often have knees and legs that look a bit awkward. Two types of bone-related conditions that can become obvious in young children are bow legs and knock knees. Both of these conditions are fairly common, and usually disappear as a child grows and matures.

What are bow legs?

When a child has bow legs, their ankles touch but their knees are wide apart — this is the opposite of knock knees. Many babies have bow legs at birth. The condition may become more obvious once they start crawling or walking. However, most children will go on to outgrow the condition by 3 years of age.

What are knock knees?

A child has knock knees if their knees touch but not their ankles when they are standing. Parents often first notice their child has knock knees around 3 years of age.

A child will usually outgrow knock knees at 7 or 8 years of age. Most adults still have slight knock knees.

What should I do if my child has bow legs or knock knees?

In most cases, children outgrow these conditions without needing any special treatments. However, see your doctor if:

  • the condition is severe
  • your child still has bow legs after 3 years of age
  • knock knees worsen after 8 years of age
  • one leg is worse than the other
  • your child is in pain or limping
  • your child is short for their age

If your child has one of these conditions, and you are worried they may need help, see your doctor for advice.

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Last reviewed: June 2021


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Need more information?

Knock knees - MyDr.com.au

Knock knees (genu valgum) is common in young children. The legs usually straighten as the child grows.

Read more on myDr website

Bow legs in babies and children | Raising Children Network

Young babies often have bowed legs. Bow-leggedness is more common in babies of above-average weight. You don’t usually need to worry if your child has bow legs.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Bowlegs and knock-knees | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

What are bowlegs and what is the cause? Bowing of the legs (called genu varum) is when the legs curve out like a bow

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

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Tips for taking care of your child`s feet. Information about babies' and toddlers' feet, walking, normal development and problems, choosing shoes and more.

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Gait: pigeon toe, out-toeing, toe walking | Raising Children Network

Gait disorders in children include pigeon toe or in-toeing, out-toeing and toe walking. Most gait disorders don’t need treatment, but it’s best to see a GP.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

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