Children grow up so fast. Those little footprints they make don't stay small for long. In just a short time, tiny feet grow bigger and stronger until they're walking their own path in life. Baby feet aren't just cute, they are your child's foundation and are necessary for mobility and independence as they grow up.
Good children's foot care can provide your little one with strong, lifelong support.
Knowing Your Child's Feet
Baby feet are different from adult feet. When a child is first born, the bones in the feet are not fully formed. Instead, they are made of soft cartilage that will later be replaced by hard tissue. Bones should be mostly hardened by school age, although the limbs aren't considered completely developed until they stop growing in the later teen years.
The structure of the foot is undeveloped as well. Baby feet are wide and have relatively flat arches. Walking and growing helps mold the arch, shape the foot, and strengthen the attached muscles. Toddlers generally have an awkward gait. Some slight in-toeing or toe walking is expected at that age. The arch development may not be visible because of a thick fatty pad in the midfoot area.
Generally, children grow out of gait abnormalities, and the arch becomes more visible after a few years. However, significant or persistent in-toeing, toe walking, and flat feet may signal a problem and should be evaluated.
Investing in Healthy Feet
Good foot care at a young age is critical for establishing healthy habits and avoiding preventable injuries later in your little one's life. You want the best for your child, which involves basic care, such as the following:
- Wash and thoroughly dry your baby's feet regularly.
- Check the feet and ankles for sores or other problems. Even if their feet are uncomfortable, children may not be able to express precisely what is bothering them.
- Clip the toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails.
Tickle and play with your baby's toes and let your small children walk in bare feet while indoors. This works the muscles and connective tissues, strengthening and stabilizing them.
Focus on Their Footwear
It is also important to provide your growing child with suitable shoes and socks. Footwear, including socks, directly influences the comfort and development of children's feet. If they are too tight, they could damage the lower limb growth, not to mention cause pain.
Socks should be made of soft materials and fitted so they don't rub. Children's feet grow rapidly, so you'll need to change the size of the socks often.
Shoes should be made of soft materials and have a wide design for baby feet. Don't rush your child into wearing shoes, however. Babies need to strengthen their feet first. As your little one gets older, they can switch to more solid, supportive footwear. This is especially important if your child is active outdoors or an athlete. Be sure to measure the feet often, ensuring shoes fit properly, and replace them when they do not.
Child Foot Care for a Healthy, Active Future
Good child foot care is essential for the safe and healthy development of the lower limbs. Since the feet and ankles will be your little one's foundation for the rest of their life, they should be treated with great care. You should also have your child's feet evaluated by a professional like Dr. Evan Merrill to check for potential problems, especially if any walking difficulties exist.
If you're concerned about your child's feet, or they are complaining about discomfort, contact the experts at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle for an appointment or more information. Call our Medford office at (541) 776-3338 or visit our contact page to reach us.