Parents often worry about every aspect of their child’s development. Is my baby eating enough or did my toddler say his first word at the right time? I understand. I am a parent too!
And as a parent and a podiatrist, I understand the importance of strong, healthy foot development. I know from experience that children with strong, healthy feet often avoid many kinds of lower extremity problems later in life. Let’s take some time and talk about proper foot development and care…
The size and shape of your baby’s feet change quickly during their first year. Because a baby’s feet are flexible, too much pressure or strain can affect their feet’s shape. It’s important to allow your baby to kick and stretch his or her feet. Also, make sure shoes and socks do not squeeze the toes.
Try not to force your toddler to walk before she is ready. Carefully watch her gait once she begins to walk. If your toddler’s toe touches down instead of the heel, or she always sits while others play, contact our office. Many toddlers have a pigeon-toe gait, and this is normal. Most children outgrow the problem.
When foot care is needed
To help with flatfeet, special shoes or custom-made shoe inserts or orthotics may be recommended or prescribed. To correct mild intoeing, your toddler may need to sit in a different position while playing or watching TV. If your child’s feet turn in or out a lot, corrective shoes, splints, or night braces may be prescribed.
The foot’s bone structure is well-formed by the time your child reaches age 7 or 8, and continues to mature into early adulthood, but if a growth plate (the area where bone growth begins) is injured, the damaged plate may cause the bone to grow oddly. With a doctor’s care, however, the risk of future bone problems is reduced.
Remember to check your child’s shoe size often. Make sure there is space between the toes and the end of the shoe, Make sure their shoes are roomy enough to allow the toes to move freely. Don’t let your child wear hand-me-downs.