The lowdown on kids feet
When should you bring your child to the podiatrist? Development of children’s feet.. What’s normal? Growing feet and footwear? Heel pain? Skin and nails problems?
Have any of these questions? Don't worry, we will cover it all in this article!
When should you bring your child to the podiatrist?
- If they have any uneven wearing at the bottom of their shoes or excessive wear on the upper of the shoe
- If they have any foot and lower leg pain (this includes pain that gets worse with activities, and other conditions such as severs disease)
- If they have any sporting injuries (both recent, and ones that still haven't healed)
- If they have any skin concerns (including warts, corns and callus)
- If they have any nail concerns (including ingrown toenails, toenail infections, funny shaped nails)
- If they have any balance or motor skills concerns (if your child is always tripping and falling)
- For their foot appearance (including very high or low arches, feet that turn in or out when walking)
- If they have any walking differences (including toe walking and limping, or even if their walking is not symmetrical)
- and for some footwear advice!
Your podiatrist will work closely with you and your child to develop a treatment plan specific to your child's foot and your concerns in order to reduce/prevent pain and help your child stay active!
Development of children’s feet.. What’s normal?
Children's feet are extremely different to adults as they are still not fully formed. The last bone in the foot does not form until the age of 3, with most bones becoming fully formed around the age of 18!
Children typically start to walk between 10 and 20 months of age. Each child is unique and will move through their stages of development at their own pace
Children usually begin to walk at any time between 10 and 20 months of age. It is important to remember that each child is unique and will move through the developmental stages at their own pace. Just like walking, children also roll, crawl, walk and run in their own time. There is no evidence that baby walkers and jumpers will help this happen early… they may even put more pressure onto the feet when the child is not yet ready to take weight!
When your child first begins walking, shoes are only necessary when protecting the feet from the ground. Allowing your child to go barefoot as much as possible will help the foot and muscles to develop and strengthen properly.
Some children may walk in-toed (aka pigeon toed), and some may walk more out-toed. In some children it can take up to around 10 years old for them to grow out of this walking style. If you're not sure, or your child is not keeping up with their friends, your podiatrist will be able to provide you with more advice on treatment strategies for these issues.
Some children under the age of three may walk on their tip toes! This is a normal developmental stage, however if they are over three and still toe walking, this should be assessed by your podiatrist.
Baby feet only require protection in the colder months! It is important that these are loose around their feet. Allowing your baby to kick freely will help the muscles in the leg and feet to develop properly.
As a child's foot grows longer, it also changes shape. Every child's arch develops differently. Having a very high or very low arch does not always indicate that a child will have problems with their feet. However, if a child is having pain, or one foot is flat and differs from the other foot, a podiatrist will be able to assist with this.
A child's foot grows very rapidly, therefore it is important to check their foot size often
- Until the age of three - check every one to three months
- Up to the age of five- check every four months
- From five years old - check every six months.
Your child will be spending most in their growth period in their school shoes, which is why it is crucial to have good quality, correct fitting school shoes.
How do you know which shoes are the best for your child?
To ensure a proper fitting shoe, make sure to have your child's feet measured regularly for length and width. This ensures the shoe fits to the natural shape of the child's foot.
Make sure the toe of the shoe allows your child to wiggle their toes and move them freely, and that they aren't being squashed from either the top or the sides. You should allow about 1 cm of growing room between the longest toe and the top end of the shoe.. And remember, the longest toe isn't always their big toe!
The shoe should fit comfortably around the heel, not too loose or too tight. If your child has a small heel bone and you are struggling to find a shoe that holds them in place, don't worry, there are different lacing techniques or padding that can help you!
Heel pain is a common occurrence amongst growing children (typically those between 8-14 years). This may be worse during and after playing sports and doing lots of exercise.
If your child has any pain at their heel that limits their activities or causes limping, your podiatrist will be able to help you. They will be able to determine whether or not the heel pain is related to the developmental process and give advice about ways to alleviate symptoms.
Skins and nails
Sometimes your child may have problems with their skin and nails. Conditions including ingrown toenails, athletes foot (tinea) and warts will require treatment from your podiatrist, where others may be helped by footwear and hygiene changes.
Children are more susceptible to warts than adults. If a wart of causing discomfort, we can assist you with the treatment. We don’t freeze it off/use cryotherapy, we use alternative methods so it's almost painless!!