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Podiatry

Bubs and Kids Feet: The Lowdown

June 24, 2021

Children’s feet go through many changes as they grow – they are definitely not just mini versions of adults feet! Due to this it is important to keep a check on them, as well as other developments such as knee and hip position, and phases of crawling, cruising and walking.

To make it easier to know what the look for, we’ve broken it down into stages. As with anything development related, its important to remember that each child is unique and will move through the developmental stages at their own pace.

Babies (Newborn – Crawling)

Babies are born with soft foot bones, which will begin to harden and fuse together (ossify) as they grow. Due to this softness, it is vital they have adequate room to move and aren’t restricted by tight socks or shoes. Make sure socks have plenty of room and are made of natural materials such as cotton or bamboo if possible. This is also a great stage for babies to be barefoot as it can encourage functions such as balance, posture, coordination, and muscle strength, especially as they begin to take those first steps!

Babies / Toddlers (Walking)

Most children will start walking somewhere between 9 – 20 months. At this initial stage, it is very common for them to walk with their feet and legs in a wide apart stance and arms outstretched for extra balance. 

This stage is also the perfect time to get them fitted with a well fitting shoe. Shoes with laces or velcro are good because they hold the heel in place and stop the foot slipping forward and damaging the toes. However, it is still important they get plenty of bare foot time to continue the important developments mentioned above.

Children (Walking)

Once they are up and about there’s usually no stopping them! But what should we be looking out for now? Below is a list of common things you may notice:

  • Flat Feet – feet that appear flat or have a low arch can be a normal part of development. If the arch hasn’t formed by the age of 7, or if there is any pain or noticeable difference between each foot, this should be assessed by your podiatrist.
  • Tip Toe Walking (Toe Walking) – it can be common for children under 3 to walk on their toes, however if they are over 3 and still toe walking, this should be assessed 
  • In-Toeing – this is where the feet turn inwards. This can be a normal development phase. However this can also be linked to hip or knee abnormalities, so an assessment is advised in case of this. Stretching exercises and/or orthotics with a special device known as a ‘gait plate’ may be needed to help.
  • Out-Toeing – this is where the feet point outwards. As above, an assessment is recommended to make sure, and similar treatments may be advised.
  • Knock Knees – this is where there is only a small or absent gap between the knees when stood up. This can be common until age 7.
  • Bow Legs – this appearance of a small gap between their knees can be fairly common before the 18 month mark, however after this age it is recommended it is checked out.

 

This list is intended only as a guideline, and isn’t extensive of every milestone or development. If you have any concerns about your child’s foot or lower limb health or development, or they complain about pain or discomfort, it is always best to check in with your podiatrist for a full assessment.