We are now nearly done with 23-hour bracing, and it’s incredible how fast this phase has gone. We go in for a follow-up appointment this week and if his feet look good, he’ll be cleared to wear the brace for naps and nights only!
23-hour basically means your kid wears the boots all the time, but you’re allowed an hour of free time. We’ve been doing his free hour in the evening and usually take advantage of it to give him a bath. Some people do a half hour first thing in the morning and a half hour before bed.
I’m pretty sure I significantly over-prepared when we started out. I had moleskin, band-aids, sheepskin scraps (helpful for padding) and the MDOrtho website on speed dial, ready for bruising, blistering and general misery. Three months later, Jonas hasn’t had a single issue! The first few nights of BNB (boots and bar) were rough, but once we got through the adjustment, it’s been right back to normal — if not better.
His feet and legs look a little funny without the brace because they are squeezed for so long, but the nurse explained this is perfectly normal — skinny ankles and puffy-topped feet — the brace needs to be tight at the ankle especially, so all that baby fat has to move over! Here’s what they look like after 23 hours in the BNB:
Those muffin-top legs crack me up. And his little feet keep the turnout and stay at a perfect 90° angle even when we remove the BNB because they’ve been in there so long! Over time though, this will all smooth out. I’m curious to see how it changes with less wear now.
As much as the 23-hour bracing phase has been relatively effortless, I’m truly looking forward to ditching the brace during the day. It makes baby-wearing pretty difficult (some people do it, but I couldn’t find a way to make both of us comfortable, plus it was mostly winter anyway and we weren’t out and about in nature for very long periods of time!) and then there’s the fact you have to hold your baby a little differently — no propping the baby on your hip, for example. And if I want to lay him on my lap with his feet towards me, I get gut-punched with his brace. Not to mention that thing is painful if he slams it down on you when you’re not paying attention!
And that’s just why I don’t like the brace. Jonas has adapted because it’s all he’s ever known at this point, and he wields that thing like nobody’s business. He quickly learned to move both legs together for maximum effect, or how to set one foot and push off with the other, using the bar for leverage. He started rolling over just fine, approximately at the same age my daughter did if I recall correctly. I actually feel like his gross motor skills have been pretty advanced comparatively, he was rolling up onto his side pretty early on. I think having to lift the brace has strengthened his core quite a bit. But I guarantee he’s going to love the extra freedom and mobility once he gets it!
Funny story: I once tried to put him down for a nap during his free hour and he wouldn’t/couldn’t sleep — I think the weight of the bar is something he’s gotten so used to that it was disorienting to try to sleep without! I’ve heard similar stories from parents of older kids, toddlers crying about their bar when a parent forgot to put it on. It just goes to show that children really do adapt: if this is all they’ve ever known, it’s just life!
We tried to take advantage of those rare moments of freedom: bath time, walks, play, and our most recent discovery: swinging!
I’m sure we’ll get to a point where putting the brace on will become a real struggle (he’s already getting pretty wiggly now that he’s rolling over!) but I am looking forward to a new phase, unencumbered. And yes, I just bought his first pair of shoes… and they are stinkin’ adorable.
Good luck baby Jonas, here’s to more freedom soon!