Caring for a child through treatment
Having a new baby is a lot to cope with in itself, let alone having a baby that requires medical treatment. Even though you may be distressed at discovering your baby has clubfoot, your baby will not be in pain. This is not to say that he/she won’t protest strongly during examination and treatment!
Caring for a child throughout treatment can be challenging at times and don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, hospital and of course STEPS. Hopefully, this section of the website will reassure you that solutions can be found to many practical problems. However, if you have questions, concerns or simply feel you would like someone to talk to - please do not hesitate to contact us - we will be happy to help. You can call our Helpline on 01925 750271 (Monday – Friday 9.30am to 4pm) or email us
You may also want to visit our online community where you will find a wealth of information written by parents with children affected by Talipes/clubfoot. You will also be able to read personal stories, shared experiences, ask questions and receive encouragement.
In addition, please download a PDF copy of our parent friendly leaflets:
A Parents' Guide to Talipes/Clubfoot for more detailed information about treatment and care advice.
Clubfoot - Practical Advice – from one parent to another which has been written by a mum Sharon Wignall based on information gained through her experience of caring for her son, Harrison, with clubfoot.
Plaster cast care
When the plaster cast is first applied, it can take several hours for the plaster to dry fully. During this time, please take extra care not to disturb the plaster in any way.
Ideally the plaster casts should be removed in clinic where a specialist can check to see that the plaster hasn’t slipped or moved. Also relapse can occur within a few hours.
It is important to follow all of the instructions below carefully, to ensure your baby is happy and safe, and the treatment is successful.
- Check your child’s toes are pink and warm.
- Change your child’s nappy frequently to avoid soiling the plaster.
- Check the skin around the edge of the cast for any signs of redness or soreness.
It is important to contact the hospital immediately if:
- You cannot see your child’s toes. This usually indicates that the plaster has slipped and will no longer be correcting the feet.
- Your baby’s toes are not pink and warm.
- The plaster becomes loose, cracked or crumbly. Keep the plaster dry at all times.
Every week as your baby is recast the process will get easier and most mums find that feeding is the best way to keep your baby happy and calm. Alternatively, you can try distracting them with their favourite toys or music.
To enable the cast to dry thoroughly, your baby shouldn’t wear trousers/sleepsuits over the cast for the first 24 hours, so don’t forget to bring a vest and a blanket to keep your baby warm in cold weather.
You will not be able to bath your baby during the plaster stage so they will need a thorough wash (top and tail) with a damp cloth at least once a day to keep them feeling fresh. You will generally be allowed to bathe your baby at the hospital when they take the cast off and before they apply the new one – please check this with your hospital as this can vary.
The edges of the plaster are often protected by a water resistant tape which also protects the skin from rubbing but it is still best to clean these areas with baby lotion or wipes.
Some babies can have disturbed sleep patterns during treatment especially when the first cast is applied. Try altering their position at the first signs of wakefulness and inserting a folded towel beneath the legs to take off any pressure.
A beanbag or large scatter cushion can be useful as it moulds to you baby’s shape and helps to keep them comfortable.
If the cast is rubbing, slipping or has got very wet go back to your hospital and seek medical advice.
This stage is probably the hardest part of the treatment as your child’s feet look corrected but it is VITAL that the boots and bars should be a non-negotiable part of your child’s routine to prevent a relapse.
Your child may object to the boots and bar especially during the first few days. This is not because the boots and bar are painful, but because it is something new and different. Every child is different as some don’t seem to mind whilst others are greatly bothered by them. However, if your child is completely inconsolable and you believe that they are in pain, contact your hospital right away.
Play with your child in the boots and bar. The child is unable to move his/her legs independent of each other so you can teach your child that he/she can kick and swing the legs simultaneously with the boots and bar on. You can do this by gently flexing and extending the knees by pushing and pulling on the bar. Try making a game of the motions, singing and or talking to your child in an encouraging manner.
A bicycle handle bar pad or foam pipe insulation covered in fabric or tape works well for padding the bar. By padding the bar you will protect your child, yourself and your furniture from being hit by the bar when the child is wearing it. Sleep Gro Bags on the child at night will also help with padding and keep the baby from pulling at the straps and laces with their hands.
If blistering occurs this usually indicates that the boot was not worn tightly enough. Make sure the heel stays down in the shoe. If it continues to slip and the blisters show no sign of healing contact your hospital.