Foot Problems and Deformities in Newborn Babies

In newborn babies, common foot and toe conditions include clubfoot, flatfoot, and overlapping toes. Most of these foot deformities are treated nonsurgically. In many cases, they can simply be observed. However, it's important to understand the deformity to ensure appropriate treatment is being provided.

This article discusses some common newborn baby foot problems. It will also help you understand how these problems may affect your baby and how they are treated.


adult hands exercising baby foot


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Clubfoot describes an array of foot deformities that cause your newborn baby's feet to be twisted, pointing down and inward. About half of babies with clubfoot have it in both feet. Boys have clubfeet nearly twice as often as girls. 

Approximately 1 to 4 babies in 1,000 are born with clubfoot.

Clubfoot doesn't cause your baby pain. Still, it can cause long-term problems, affecting their ability to walk. When clubfoot is properly treated with stretching exercises, casts, and/or surgery, the deformity can often be corrected in early childhood.

Metatarsus Adductus

Metatarsus adductus is a common congenital foot condition. It's seen in about 1% to 2% of all newborns. This condition causes your baby's toes and forefoot to point inward, making it difficult to straighten them. The appearance of your baby's sole will likely resemble a bean shape.

Mild cases often resolve on their own, but more severe cases may need casts, splints, or corrective shoes. Surgery is rarely needed for metatarsus adductus.


Polydactyly means your baby has an extra toe or toes. This condition is actually fairly common. Though it can run in the family, sometimes polydactyly occurs without any family history.

Around 1 in 1,000 babies are born with polydactyly.

The treatment of polydactyly of the foot depends on where and how the extra toe or toes are connected. If there's no bone and the toe is poorly formed, a clip can be put on it to stop blood flow, which will cause it to fall off.

Better-formed toes are surgically removed once your baby is about 1 year old, before they begin to walk.

Congenital Vertical Talus

Congenital vertical talus is an uncommon cause of a type of flatfoot in newborns. It's often associated with other congenital or chromosomal abnormalities. The appearance of your baby's foot with this condition is a sole that looks like the bottom of a rocking chair.

The treatment for vertical talus is similar to the treatment for clubfoot, using stretching exercises, casts, and, if necessary, surgery.

Congenital Curly Toes

Curly toes occur when one of your baby's toes is abnormally rotated. The toe will also be in a bent position, but the primary deformity is the malrotation of the toe. It usually occurs on both feet.

About 20% of cases of curly toe resolve on their own.

The treatment of a curly toe deformity is to cut the tendon on the bottom of the toe to relieve the stress causing the rotation. This is usually not done until your child is at least 6 years old, since it may go away by itself.

Overlapping Toes

An overlapping toe happens when your baby's fifth digit (the baby toe) crosses over the top of the fourth toe. This condition happens in varying degrees and in some babies isn't bothersome.

In other children, an overlapping toe can create difficulties with footwear. It may require a surgical procedure to correct the deformity.


It is common for babies to be born with toe and foot problems like clubfoot, flatfoot, or overlapping toes. Most of the time these problems can be corrected with stretching exercises, casts, or corrective footwear. Sometimes, however, surgery is necessary.

Your baby's healthcare provider can help you decide the best way to treat your baby's foot problems.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.