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Standing on Legs

Standing on Legs

Compliments of relatives and friends, many parents are warned not to let their baby stand on their legs while parents support them.  The rationale is that letting a young infant put any weight on their legs will make them bow.   This is complete nonsense.

The concept comes from two misconceptions, which are understandable, but untrue.

The first is that when people see how bowed all babies’ legs are, they reasonably assume something bowed them and that something happened after birth.  It is true something bowed them, but what bowed them was being folded in utero.  That folding includes bending legs across each other and into the belly, causing both legs to bow.  Standing does not bow legs after birth, in fact, it is what straightens them.  It actually takes about 7 years for infant legs to fully straighten, and that process doesn’t really get going until they start walking vigorously at about 18 months of age.  This means all newborns spend their infancy with bowed legs, standing or not, and straighten their legs later on, standing or not.

The second is a more historic legacy.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, as families moved into urban areas, epidemics of rickets raged.  Rickets is thankfully now a very rare event.  But in the days of rickets, bones softened for lack of mineral.  These soft bones would bend, and in babies with rickets, standing did cause the legs to bow more.   It seemed that standing caused the bowing, and it did, but really it was the rickets causing this to happen.  Now that rickets is essentially gone, standing no longer can cause legs to bow.

So, enjoy the joy of your baby standing!