Understanding children’s foot development
Children foot and ankle problems can often be difficult for parents to identify. Children’s complaints and a change in behaviour can easily be misinterpreted and misunderstood, especially when children are unable to explain what is wrong.
As parents, we worry about our children’s eyes, teeth and other parts of the body. We teach them washing, grooming and brushing their hair but what do we do about our children’s feet? Nothing drives more concerns than making the wrong decision which can potentially lead to long-term foot complications in children’s development.
A child with troublesome feet walks awkwardly and usually will have poor posture. They may be clumsy or have delayed physical milestones. Periodic professional attention and monitoring can minimize many of the problems in later life.
Below are the five warning signs to assist parents in identifying potential foot problem with their children.
Your child has difficulty keeping up the pace with their friends.
Your child voluntarily withdrawn from their favorite activities.
Your child does not want to show you their feet.
Your child often trips and falls.
Your child is complaining about sore foot and pain.
Some tips for different life stages:
The human foot has 26 bones; 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The feet of young babies are soft and supple and abnormal pressure can cause abnormalities.
A child’s feet grow quickly during their first year, reaching almost half their adult size. It is best to keep your baby’s feet unconstrained to give your baby the best opportunity to move their feet freely and to encourage normal development of muscles in the lower limb which prepares the feet for weight bearing.
Your baby’s clothing should always be kept loose around their feet as tight covers limit movement and can retard normal development. Massaging your baby’s feet is another great activity at this age.
It is unwise to force a child to walk. Your child starts learning to walk between 10 to 18 months of age. Instead of wearing shoes indoors for support or protection, try allow them to go barefoot or to just wear socks as much as possible. Child are fast learner. They generally learn to gain control and use of their feet through feeling.
Walking barefoot or with socks can help improve sensation in their feet. It will encourage grasping action of their toes and promote normal foot musculature and strength. You may notice variations in the walking styles of toddlers.
In many cases, children who walk with feet pointed inward (in-toeing) or outward (out-toeing) or tip-toe walking.
When walking outdoors, their feet should be protected in lightweight, flexible footwear with wide toe-box. Should you have any issues selecting the right footwear for your children, our podiatrists are always ready to help. You can contact us here.
As your child develops and enters the school years, their feet will grow rapidly. It is necessary to check your child’s foot size frequently to ensure their shoes and socks are in good condition. A right size shoes allow room for the feet to grow and accommodate their feet.
Although most foot complications result mainly from injury, deformity, illness or hereditary factors, inappropriate footwear can aggravate pre-existing conditions. Hence, we should never underestimate the importance of good footwear.
As your child begins to participate in more sports and physical activities, you may notice complaints of other symptoms such as tired legs and heel pain. If you notice something that does not look normal to you, seek professional care promptly.