Caring for a Child Through Treatment for Talipes / Clubfoot
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
Read our A Parents’ Guide to Talipes / Clubfoot for more detailed information about treatment and care advice.
You can also view our interactive video, which tells you everything you need to know and what to expect.
Care at Home: 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 – it is easily damaged. Plasters dry best when they are exposed to the air.
The plaster cast can either be removed in clinic or at home. If you are requested to remove the cast at home this must be done as close to your appointment time as possible. Relapse may occur if removed the night before or in some cases 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 of normal appearance and warm.
- Check that the toes are exposed and clearly visible at all times.
- 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 change in appearance and become cold.
- The plaster becomes loose, cracked or crumbly. Keep the plaster dry at all times.
Care at Home: Casting FAQ’s
How are the casts removed?
The plaster cast can either be removed in clinic or at home. To avoid a relapse the cast should be removed as close to your appointment as possible. Ask your hospital for any advice but in general if you use a baby bath to soak the cast for a good 10 minutes with warm water the cast will start to disintegrate. 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. Sometime a cast cutting saw or plaster knife is used to remove the cast, both of which are perfectly safe as they cannot cut your baby’s skin
Can my baby wear clothes after the casting?
To enable the cast to dry thoroughly, your baby shouldn’t wear trousers/sleepsuit over the cast for the first 24hrs so don’t forget to bring a vest and a blanket to keep your baby warm. We would also suggest that you bring an old towel to protect your car seat from the wet plaster.
What advice would you give to care for my child whilst in cast?
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 do 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. Avoid using talc as it can slip down inside the plaster which can irritate the baby’s skin.
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. However do not let them sleep on a beanbag or cushion overnight or use with blankets or covers as your baby can easily overheat.
NB: If the cast is rubbing, slipping or has got very wet please go back to your hospital and seek medical advice.
How will I know the casts are working?
You will be surprised how quickly the foot is looking ‘normal’ and you should see an improvement after each casting appointment. At the start of the casting treatment your hospital may have graded your child’s feet from 0 – 6 (6 being the most severe) this is known as the Pirani score and this should gradually reduce as the feet improve.
Care at Home: Boots and Bars
This stage is probably the hardest part of the treatment as your child’s feet will now 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. Children can vary, some don’t seem to mind the boots and bars whilst others seem to object to 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. Your child will be unable to move his/her legs independently so you can teach them that they can kick and swing their legs simultaneously with the boots and bar on. You can do this by gently flexing and extending their knees by pushing and pulling on the bar.
By padding the bar you will protect your child, yourself and your furniture. A bicycle handlebar grip or foam pipe insulation covered in fabric or tape works well as padding for the bar.
Your child may adopt a very strange sleeping position. Baby sleeping bags will help with padding and will keep the baby from pulling at the straps and laces. 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.
Please contact our Helpline on 01925 750271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request advice on clothes, socks etc.
Parent’s top tip
“Take lots of photos, probably even daily. Your child will change so much and so quickly that it will seem like a blur looking back. As the parent of a child with talipes, you’ll be so engrossed in the development of the feet that you risk missing out on other small details, so taking photos helps you to think about the whole development of your baby”