Whether it’s a precious baby’s first steps or a quick-maneuvering teenager’s winning soccer goal, healthy feet and sure-footedness make milestones in a child’s life possible. Starting at birth, pay close attention to your little one’s feet to ensure a solid foundation as your youngster grows.
INFANCY (birth to 1 year)
Look carefully at your baby’s feet. A child’s feet grow rapidly during the first year, which is considered to be the most critical stage of the foot’s development.
Keep your baby’s feet unrestricted. Shoes or booties can restrict movement and inhibit toes and feet from normal development.
Provide an opportunity for exercising the feet. Lying uncovered enables baby to kick and perform other related motions that prepare the feet for weight bearing.
TODDLER (1–3 years)
Keep feet bare indoors. Walking barefoot allows your toddler’s foot to grow normally and develop its musculature and strength, as well as the grasping action of toes.
Assess your child’s walking pattern or gait. While it’s not uncommon for little ones to walk on their toes, persistent toe-walking is not normal.
Pay attention to unspoken signs. If your child is limping, tripping, or always wants to remove one or both shoes, these actions may be an unspoken sign that shoes don’t fit properly.
YOUNG CHILD (4–8 years)
Take your child shoe shopping. It’s important to have your child’s feet measured before buying shoes. This is the age to watch for a flat foot condition and the possible need of orthotics.
Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another the same way. Never share footwear.
Establish good outdoor footwear practices. Wear flip-flops around the pool and in the locker room to prevent viral (plantar warts), fungal and bacterial infections. Make sure winter boots fit properly. Kids should be able to wiggle their toes, but boots should immobilize the heel, instep, and ball of the foot to help prevent blisters, chafing, and ankle or foot injuries.
PRETEEN (9–12 years)
Sports-related foot and ankle injuries become common as children start participating in athletic activities. Promote healthy pedicures. It’s important your child learn how to trim and polish nails safely.
Buy shoes that don’t need a “break-in” period. Properly fitted shoes should never require a “break-in” period.
If you’re unsure your child has flat feet, consult PRO Medical Podiatry to determine if your child has a need for custom molded orthotics to potentially prevent flat foot issues in the future.