A baby may have a dragging leg from the time they begin crawling, or, it may develop at some point after crawling has become habitual.
“Motor developmental milestones vary greatly from child to child,” begins Joel Gator Warsh, MD, of Integrative Pediatrics and Medicine, Studio City, CA, and part of the pediatric staff of Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
“No two are exactly the same. Some children crawl at seven months, others never crawl.”
That second group of babies amazingly go from not crawling to actual pitter-pattering.
When a Crawling Baby Drags a Foot…
Dr. Warsh continues, “Favoring one leg when crawling is usually normal. Babies do what works, so some scoot, and some use just one side, while others master the bilateral skill more quickly.
“If you notice a baby favoring one side or not using one limb, it is important to have a thorough neurologic exam at your doctor’s to insure that the signals from the brain are getting sent appropriately to the leg.
“Nerves, tendons and muscles can all be injured or damaged, leading a child to favor one side.
“Most of these issues will be noticed after birth, but it is possible that they can develop at a later age or not be noticed until motor skills are tested at an older age.
“Another common injury is a toddler fracture. If you suddenly notice a child not using one limb, consider a fracture.”
Do not try to diagnose the absence of a fracture, and do not move the affected limb in an attempt to see if it brings out pain. Bring the baby to a doctor.
“Babies and toddlers can get injured, even when we are not looking, so just because there wasn’t a known trauma, does not mean a fracture couldn’t occur. Obtain an X-ray to rule out an occult fracture.”
And it needs to be pointed out that a fracture could have been caused by a caretaker (teen babysitter, nanny, even older sibling) of the baby.