Newborns are described in many ways: cuddly, sweet, and precious come to mind. Caress a baby’s skin and all you can think of is “soft.” What we don’t often think about is how soft they are inside, too. To fit in the womb their bones need to be flexible, and they only gradually strengthen and harden as they develop. Babies are vulnerable and totally dependent on us for everything, so it’s up to parents to watch and take action to ensure that children’s foot problems don’t develop into complicated issues later in life.
Observing Oddities in Foot Development
We carefully observe our little ones after birth, counting toes and fingers and looking for anything that doesn’t seem “normal.” This process is ongoing as the child grows. There are some common conditions to keep an eye on.
Flat feet– It is completely normal for a baby’s feet to have no arches; that develops as they begin to walk or may never form at all. It is not a problem unless it is causing your child pain or keeping them from normal activity
Toe-Walking – Most babies start out walking on tip-toe and gradually learn to use the entire foot. This is not a cause for concern unless they do it only in one leg, or still are not walking normally after age 2.
In-toeing– Also called pigeon toes, which means your child’s feet point inward toward each other. Again, this usually disappears by the time the child is 4 or 5 years old. It is good to have it checked out after age 2 if it causes them to stumble and fall or affects only one foot.
To Shoe, or Not to Shoe? That Is the Question
Generally, babies should not wear shoes. Their feet and toes need to be able to move freely in order to develop properly. If you need something to keep them warm, use soft, flexible footwear that doesn’t hamper their movements.
Toddlers also shouldn’t wear stiff shoes while they are learning to walk. They can go barefoot in the house. If they walk outside, their feet need some protection from sharp objects and bacteria and fungus, but the shoes should be soft and flexible and made from natural materials.
Once your child grows older, shoes become more important, especially if they begin to participate in sports activities. Take them to a reputable store to have their feet properly measured, and choose shoes that give them firm support for arch and heel and room for their toes. Children’s feet grow quickly, so replace shoes as needed so their feet are not cramped.
Find Help for Children’s Foot Problems on Florida’s East Coast
If you have any concerns about your child’s feet, contact Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates and let our expert podiatrists provide great foot care for your little one. We offer digital X-rays right in our office, and promise to treat any acute injuries within 24 hours (48 on weekends). Call our Daytona Beach office at (386) 274-3336, Port Orange at (386) 788-6333, Palm Coast at (386) 586-7373, Orange City at (386) 775-2281, or Edgewater (386) 957-4818. You can also look for information on our website and request an appointment there.