Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Clubfoot Files: Baby Gear for 23/7 Brace Wear

1 - Hank and Jojo Retro Tube Socks
  2 - Halo Sleep Sacks
3 - Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker
  4 - Wide leg pants (Carters and Circo ones are great!)  
5 - Footless, Snapping PJs (or regular ones that you cut the feet off of!)  
6 - Luggage handle cover 
 7 - Cornstarch! 

One of my biggest sticking points when we found out Harper would have clubfoot (beyond the obvious concern for her well-being) was how having a cast/brace would impact clothes and baby gear.  When you are a first-time mom, things like that seem pretty important.  And true story - I was pretty bummed about her not being able to wear footed pjs.  (Spoiler alert: I got over it.)

So, life goes on during brace wear with remarkably few tweaks needed.  However, there are a few things that have helped, and I wanted to share those here.

1.  Hank and Jojo Retro Baby tube socks- 

These are quite pricey ($30 for 4 pairs! Plus shipping!), but I kept reading about how great they were, so I got some when they were sold through Mini Social (a Groupon type thing for little ones).  Well, it took FOREVER for them to ship, so we had to use other socks for a few weeks while we waited on them.  We bought socks from Old Navy, Target, BRU, and even tried some we had gotten at a consignment sale.  

None worked well - we just couldn't find ones that were small enough and that were thin enough.  You really want thin socks for the brace since the shoes have to be buckled down so tightly, and extra material just leaves harsh indentions and can irritate.  Once we finally got these socks, they worked the best.  We got the smallest size (infant), and they are still slightly large on her, but not too bad.  Of course, we had a relatively quick casting process and she was quite little still when we first got the brace, so if you have an older kiddo, the sock issue might not be such a big deal.  

So, yes, these are like $9 a pair, but I figured if she has to wear these shoes all of the time, the least we could do was get her fancy socks.  And they come in fun colors - like "key lime" as seen above.

{Edited later to add:  At 20 months old, we are STILL using these same pairs, size Infant!  Harper, and many cf babies, have small feet.  I have the next H&JJ size up, but they are still huge on her.  After 18 months of daily wear, some socks have small holes but they are still working well.  Great investment!!!}

2.  Halo Sleep Sacks - 

I would have probably put Harper in these anyway, but they are especially helpful now that she's in the brace.  It fits in just fine and it helps keep her feet warm.  It will also help cushion the blow of the brace hitting the crib sides, once she's a mover.  She wears the fleece swaddle one to bed (arms out, of course - can't hold her down!) and the regular cotton one during the day for naps.

{Edited later to add: At nearly two years old, we still use sleep sacks for sleeping.  It protects the crib from her brace at night and she's nice and cozy.  Now we are in the size Medium.}

3. Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker - 

This seemed excessive, but when we had a battery oozing issue with our older bouncy seat, we upgraded to this one (from Target).  It works out really well, since it's wider and flat at the bottom, fitting her brace perfectly, whereas the other bouncer curves in and puts her feet at an angle.  Again, not a requirement, but it works pretty well for us.  Bonus - good beach chair!

4. Wide leg pants- 

One hour of freedom!
I was worried about pants.  Especially since leggings are all the rage in wee fashion these days.  However, you can still find some wider legged pants, like these from Circo at Target and Carters basics.  Just look for a wide foot opening - those shoes are pretty bulky.  I have wrestled her into some skinnier pants, but it's just not worth the effort, especially when she poops through her pants at least once a day.

{Edited later to add:  We have the Dennis Browne bar that has the quick-release tabs.  I can just pop the bar off, leaving her shoes on, put on her pants, then snap the bar right back in place.  This makes it quite easy!}

5.  Footless Pjs and/or Footed Pjs that snap (and a pair of scissors) - 

It is amazing how elusive non-footed pjs are.  Like, they aren't made anywhere it seems.  But I quickly found out that you can just take the regular ones and cut off the feet.  If you have a guilty conscience about this like I did, find some at thrift stores or consignment stores so you don't feel like you're destroying nice clothes.  This method does leave her feet a bit exposed, which is why the sleep sack is good too.

{Edited later to add:  We are now HUGE fans of Carter's snapping, non-footed pjs, especially the microfleece ones for winter.  They fit really well and leave room for the shoes.  They are worth the investment for me!  The cotton ones are great for summer too.  The only problem is they only make them up to size 9m, so now at one year old we are on the hunt for big girl jammies that work.}

{Edited even later to add:  We use regular 2 piece cotton jammies now that she's older, even though she's wearing the brace at night.  Even with tighter-fitted ankles on the pants, I just put them on before putting her shoes on.  No big deal!}

6. Luggage handle cover - 

My mother in law found some of these at a local boutique store.  They are fabric and velcro and fit perfectly onto the brace.  It adds a cushion to the brace and makes it a little cuter.  That can never hurt, right?  Try finding these in stores that sell Vera Bradley and that kinda thing.

7.  Corn starch - 

Putting her shoes back on... with an audience
We were having a bit of an issue with red spots from the shoes rubbing, and that has significantly decreased since we started using corn starch.  I just rub some in on her feet before putting her socks on - it keeps them dry and provides a little buffer.  Many use baby powder but I'm a little wary of it and all of the chemicals, so this is a great alternative.  Also - super cheap.

*A note about babywearing: I should add that I haven't tried out a baby carrier like a Moby or Ergo.  I like the idea, and I've seen people make it work with the brace, but Harper is too wiggly and just doesn't really like to be held close.  Frankly it just seems like more trouble than it's worth for her. So I can't really recommend any that work, but give it a Google if you're interested.  I'm sure lots of other mamas have great tips to share! :)

See?  Not that different from any other baby.  Just a little tweaking needed!  If any other cf moms have any other tips on gear, let me know!

[please forgive the phone pics - not my finest work!]

{{Edited later to add:  If you are having any issues with sores, red spots, or blisters... I have a few recommendations that I didn't include here, simply because we didn't know about them yet at that time!  First, of course, talk to your doctor about any wearing issues with the brace.  However, if it seems minor, here are my suggestions:  
1.  Moleskin - the kind you buy to put in new shoes.  Try adhering the padding to the back of the shoe above the heel to displace the pressure.  Also try adding some to the top tongue of the shoes.  We have to modify every new pair of shoes we get in this way.  You can see some examples of this on this post
2. PRESSURE SADDLES! - I can't suggest this enough.  I finally (finally!) got some of these after dealing with months and months of major sores on the tops of her feet where the middle strap rubbed.  You can read this post to learn more about pressure saddles.  I highly suggest them!  
Even if you are just noticing a little redness - in any area of the foot - learn from my mistakes and be proactive about getting it under control.  A little redness can quickly turn into a sore that doesn't heal for months on end, making time in the brace (and out of it!) painful for your little one.  Talk to your doctor and find one of the many ways to modify the shoes so they can still do their job without hurting your little one!}}

Check out all of my other Clubfoot Files posts here!


  1. Thanks for this post! I'm a soon-to-be clubfoot mama (in Atlanta!) and trying to figure out the gear situation. Silly question, but what do you do about taking off the wide leg pants when Harper's in her brace? Do you just take the brace off quickly and put it right back on?

    1. glad it was helpful!

      i've added more info on this above - but basically, we have a quick-release bar that we can snap on and off for pants changes!

  2. What good tips. I am a clubfoot mama as well and it definantly took some getting used to. Wide leg pants are our best friend around here. I have yet to cut the feet off of the footie jammies, good idea. I like reading your blog it is nice to see into the life of other clubfoot parents and see how they deal with it. P.S. I loved her Halloween such a good idea, she is so cute.

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  4. Hi, thanks for the info. I too have a daughter, named Harper, she is 7 weeks old, and has a unilateral right clubfoot. She is on her fifth cast, and by the looks of things will have a tenotomy next week. I am feeling bad when I see pictures of friends babies in their excersaucers and jolly jumpers, I want our girl to be stimulated and to have fun, but a lot of the fun things for her age group seem off limits because of cast and braces..

    1. hi james! thank you so much for your comment! congrats on your harper!! it sounds like treatment is going really well for you all, which is great to hear. it's definitely a challenge to see other babies able to roll and kick and use whatever toy they want, and then to feel like yours is being held back by the brace. i certainly felt a lot of that too, and was often worried when she didn't hit those movement milestones as soon as other babies did. the great news is the 23/7 brace phase will go by so quickly, even though it's 3 months. and then you will feel rich with time with those 8 hours a day that she will be free to kick and play as she pleases!

      and most importantly - you are doing the hard work now, to prevent even harder work later. when she's running and jumping and walking completely normally because you followed through with treatment the way you should - that will be the best reward!

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  6. My husband and I recently learned during our ultrasound that our baby boy has bi-lateral clubfoot. After educating ourselves on the condition and treatment options/plan we are not trying to figure out how this alters what equipment we may need/not need. Your tips are very much appreciated!!!

    Do you have any advice/tips about which baby carriers are best for babies with clubfoot?

    1. Hi Katie! Thanks for your comment - glad it was helpful! It's really not all that different caring for a baby with clubfoot - just a few slight adjustments. I didn't actually do any baby wearing with her (which I somewhat regret). We never bought one because we just didn't have much of a need for it (we always used the snap and go stroller since most places we went we had to drive to) but I definitely plan to do it with our second baby. Sorry I can't be of much help in this area - but I'm sure there are other sources out there of mamas who have done it!

  7. Thank you so much for all of your posts regarding your sweet Harper. As a mom to be to our third child, second baby girl, we have been told that she has an isolated right clubfoot. This has all been very scary and overwhelming as we just lost our 4 month old baby boy last October 23, 2013. Having this diagnosis has been so terrifying but after reading your posts, it has helped to realize that everything is going to be ok. I cannot thank you enough for giving me some peace of mind in my terrified and grieving state. We are expecting our baby girl at the beginning of September.

    1. hi lauren! thanks for your comment. i am so terribly sorry to hear about your son. but please rest assured that your baby girl's clubfoot will be something that is very treatable and causes her no pain at all (besides a little discomfort maybe during the treatment process). you will certainly be busy and have your hands full, but she will have a straight foot in no time! glad i could be of some help! take care! :)

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  9. I have a cf baby and we have found that (for now) the gown-style pajamas work great! The elastic part on the bottom slips right over the shoes and helps to put an extra layer of padding between the shoes and the crib. Added bonus: it makes diaper changes SUPER easy! We have also found that the Zipadee-Zip brand of sleep sack/swaddle is a nice choice because it offers so much room at the bottom. It's not a traditional swaddle because it doesn't keep their arms stuck in one position, but the arms are made to help baby from startling. Check them out here!


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