Children’s feet are not just smaller versions of an adult’s foot. Up until 6 months of age the feet are mostly just cartilage and the last bone to develop doesn’t start until the age of 3! The bones in the feet don’t fully form until approximately 18 years of age.
Children typically walk between ages of 10-20 months and their feet undergo many changes. Many children will walk ‘in-toed’ or ‘out-toed’ and this typically will resolve by the time they are 2-3 years of age. Toe walking is another common complaint we see and this tends to be habitual and again children tend to grow out of it.
Shoes are only required to protect their feet from the ground when they first begin to walk. Otherwise walking barefoot encourages foot development and muscle strength.
A low arch or flat- feet are not signs that the child will develop/ experience problems at a later stage. Toddlers tend to have a fatty pad in their arch area that makes the feet appear ‘flatter’. The calcaneus (heel bone) undergoes a torsional change at around age 7-8 and this can also alter the arch shape.
When should you see a podiatrist?
- If the child has any pain in the legs or feet
- Heel pain – Sever’s is a common condition affecting the heel bone in children aged between 8-14 years of age. Podiatrists can help assess, treat and provide strategies to assist with this condition.
- The child is constantly tripping or falling over
- The child is toe walking
- Any skin rashes, bumps or lumps on the feet
- Painful warts. Children are more susceptible to picking up this viral skin condition.
- Any nail conditions such as ingrowing nails
- Concerns that the child has flat feet, high arched feet, or other issues