Have you ever woken up one morning just wondering where the time went? Our 2 years flew by us in what seemed like 2 weeks. I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am for every moment with my baby and I thank my lucky stars every day for his health and his happiness. If you’re reading this, you might be expecting a clubfoot little one or are just starting your journey. I hope that this post gives you some insight on how to purposefully and patiently support your toddler’s growth and development by learning about the challenges and celebrations we’ve had along the way. So grab a snack, and let’s dive in.
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What is Clubfoot?
If you are just finding me through this post, let me give you a little bit of background of what clubfoot is.
Clubfoot is a congenital birth defect, which just means that it is present from birth. It is actually a very common since 1 in 1000 babies are born with it.
Clubfoot can affect either one foot or both feet. In our case, my son had bilateral clubfoot, meaning that both feet were affected.
The condition makes the feet turn upward and inward, making the foot look like a golf club. The shape and severity can vary from case to case, but all bones, muscles, and toes are present…just a bit misshapen.
If you would like to read more about clubfoot in general, please check out my Ultimate Guide.
How We Got Here
It’s been a long journey, but we are almost towards our end. No matter how long it may seem on the inside, know that it will be a flash before your eyes in no time at all.
We learned our little man had clubfoot at our 20 week ultrasound. Since that point in time it felt like we had embarked on an emotional roller coaster. You can read more about our journey through our first year here.
But at our second year checkup, our Dr. confirmed that my son’s feet were in great shape and he was on track for only about another year to year and a half of wearing his bar. Woo hoo!
How is the Second Year Different from the First Year?
So how is the second year really different from the first year?
In all honesty, it’s not that different! The second year is all about maintenance and patience. You have gotten through the hard parts of casting, surgery, and full-time bar wear during your first year. Everything is now second nature and you won’t even think twice about the routines you’ve set up to put the bar on.
During year 2, my son only had to wear his bar at night and during naps. The main thing to remember is the importance of consistency.
2nd Year Successes
We had some wonderful successes during our second year.
My son really got used to his bar and even though he still doesn’t understand WHY he is wearing it, he knows he has to. He started to remind US that we needed to put it on before bed!
Somewhere during your child’s second year (barring any unforeseen complications), your child will begin to walk and talk.
No, wearing the bar won’t prevent your child from normal developmental milestones. It might take a little bit longer depending on your child’s balance, muscle tone, and pace of development, but it will happen!
Remember, your child is stronger than most! They’ve been carrying around heavy casts and boots and bars for over a year. Their core strength and leg strength is heightened because of this. But every child develops differently depending on a multitude of factors. Just meet them where they’re at and support them with love and patience any chance you get.
2nd Year Challenges
We had a couple of challenges during our second year that made life a little bit more difficult. Not all of them were typical to clubfoot experiences, so don’t get too anxious!
Break a Leg!
At 15 months old, my son fell at school and fractured his leg. This meant going right back into a cast. I was absolutely devastated as I never want to have to see him in casts ever again (at least not for a very long time).
I started freaking out because I thought this was going to cause major issues since he couldn’t wear his bar at night. Luckily, the cast kept his foot in the position it needed to be in and he could just wear the boot on his other leg.
Breaking his leg did cause him to delay walking a bit and he didn’t start to walk until almost 19 months. But he was a trooper and is now running around like a maniac at 2 years old.
Trip and Fall
For some reason, whether it be his balance or something with his shoes, my little man was constantly tripping and falling. Yes, this is part of learning to walk. But it also was odd and frustrating how often he was falling for no reason that we could put our finger on.
Eventually this resolved right before his second birthday, but not without a lot of scrapes and bruises along the way.
Tips to Support Your Child in Their Second Year
I know you’ll find your second year a lot easier than your first. What we noticed is that what was tedious and heart-wrenching with the casts and bar just became our normal. We knew no different! So by this time, you’ll be a pro. But here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Patience and Love
Patience and love is going to be your motto of the year.
Like I mentioned, a lot happens developmentally between years 1 and 2 with any child. Your child will be no different.
Take their lead and encourage them when you can. Don’t fall into the comparison trap…your little one WILL walk!
Build Strength through Climbing, Playing, and More
Support your child in reaching those milestones by building up their strength.
Climbing, crawling, balancing, and any sort of active play is a wonderful way to build strength in the core, arms, and legs. It also improves balance, which is helpful when learning to walk.
Take advantage of your toddler’s growing energy to get active. Crawling on pillows, through play tunnels, and on and off of couches is a great way to stay strong.
Find Appropriate Shoes
This was probably our biggest challenge of the year.
While I love those smushy, pudgy little feet, they sure made it difficult to find shoes that fit! Nothing was wide enough, which leads me to believe that this could be the cause of all of my son’s falling.
After searching everywhere, we found that New Balance and Stride Rite, though expensive, had shoes in extra wide. This made it easier on us to not have to buy a size 5 shoe for width, when he was only in a 3.
Massage Those Feet
Wearing shoes all day and boots all night can be very restricting. Giving breaks for bare feet time is so important to improve muscle strength in the bottoms of the feet.
I also loved to give a little extra love by massaging the bottoms of my son’s feet during his “free feet” time. Anything I could do to remove the tension from his little feet, I would!
Create Normalcy around the Bar
If there’s one thing you can do to make life easier, is to make your child’s bar a part of their everyday routine.
Luckily, your child won’t remember a time when they didn’t have the bar so that is a great first step. You may also want to try other ways to normalize the bar for them.
Maybe you make a “faux” bar for their favorite stuffed animal. Whatever you can do to keep the struggle at bay the better. Like I said, my son won’t let us forget about it!
See You Next Year!
So there you have it…our second year in a nutshell. Despite some challenges, it really was a year to treasure and admire. My son made so much growth and I’m truly looking forward to what joy he will bring us next.
Whether you are expecting a clubfoot little one or have already started your journey, I hope that this gave you some insight on how to purposefully and patiently support your toddler’s growth and development.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!