Stepping out with your Baby - Feet Issues

By Dr. Mark Bradley D.Pod.M on April 15, 2008
Some physical traits, such as eye and hair colour, are passed down from your parents through their genes. Genetics also play a role in foot structure. That means that if there is a history of structural foot problems in your family, your child’s foot structure could be similar. At birth, the foot already has all of the potential weaknesses that can cause problems in the adult foot. Keep an eye out for foot problems when your child is growing, and always make sure your child wears well-fitting shoes that are good for balance. This will help slow potential problems in foot development.

Foot Development

The biggest changes in the development of your child’s feet and lower legs take place in the first six years.

Walking

Most children are ready to walk alone at about 13 months. Don’t push your child to walk too early – he will walk when he is physically ready. Walking before he is physically ready can cause problems. The calf muscles could shorten, for example. Your child’s first steps will be unsteady and look like a waddle, as the foot rises and falls as a single unit. By age four, your child should have a normal heel-contact, toe-off walk.

Abnormal Gait

Flat feet are common when a child begins to walk. This should change with time. By age five, your child’s heel should be in line with his lower leg when you watch his walk from behind. In-toe and out-toe walks (or gaits) are relatively common in early-stage walkers. This kind of gait should not last more than six months. Talk to your child’s doctor if the gait causes him to lose his balance or trip.

Proper Hygiene

Your child’s feet need to be washed and dried every day, but you don’t need to use creams and powders. Try to stay away from socks made from synthetic (man made) fibres. Synthetic materials can make your child’s feet sweat too much, which can cause fungal infections. Nippers – available in most department stores across Canada – are safer than nail scissors for cutting your child’s toenails.

Footwear

From the time your child starts walking, he should wear shoes that fit well.
  • Fit: The shoe should be snug enough not to fall off, but loose enough to let all parts of the foot move when your child walks.
  • Rigid shank: The shoe should be rigid from the back of the heel to where it bends at the ball of the foot.
  • Flexible ball: The material in the sole of the shoe should offer no resistance to the flex in the ball area of your child’s foot.
  • Material: The upper part of the shoe should be made of a material that offers flexibility and control, allows the foot breathe and doesn’t cause skin irritation. Leather is usually best for this.


By Dr. Mark Bradley D.Pod.M| April 15, 2008

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