Children with strong, healthy feet avoid many kinds of lower extremity problems later in life. That's why it is important to inspect your children's feet periodically.
The size and shape of your baby's feet change quickly during their first year. Because a baby's feet are flexible, too much pressure or strain can affect the shape of their feet. It's important to allow baby to kick and stretch their feet freely. Also, make sure shoes and socks do not squeeze the toes.
Do not to force a toddler to walk before s/he is ready. Once walking begins, watch the toddler's gait. Many toddlers have a pigeon-toe gait, which is normal. Some initially learn to walk landing on their toes instead of their heels. Most children outgrow both these problems. But other conditions detected early can be treated more easily.
Healthy Feet Equals Happy Kids
At Coastal Podiatry, LLC in Mt. Pleasant, SC we know how important your family is to you, and that is why the health of your children’s feet is important to us. There are a number of conditions that affect children more so than adults, and we are here to help them build a solid foundation for them to grow upon.Infants Need Foot Freedom
A baby’s feet are quickly developing. They are learning how to kick and discovering their toes, and it is important to give them room to do so. Many parents make the mistake of putting shoes on their children too early, but this can actually stunt development. If you do decide to have them wear shoes or booties, make sure they are made of natural and breathable material so that there is room for wiggling. Allow time for your baby to kick and move their feet around so that they are able to build muscle needed for the next phase…walking!Let Toddlers Take Their Time
The biggest thing to remember when you have a toddler is to never force them to walk. They will master this skill on their own, and learning by force can actually be detrimental to them both physically and mentally. Toddlers usually walk with either a pigeon-toed gait or on their toes instead of their heels. Pay attention to how this develops, because most children will grow out of it—but some do not. This could be a sign of a neurological problem, so it’s best to get this checked out if the gait does not even out by the age of 2 or 3 years old. They may also walk with bowlegs or knock knees, but these are usually just signals of normal growth patterns and will eventually go away. Remember to let your toddler walk barefoot at least some of the time to develop strong feet and ankles.School Age Children Need the Right Shoes
At around the age of five, children start to use their feet more frequently than ever before. They run and play at home and at school, and many of them even become involved in organized sports. It is important to make sure they are wearing shoes that fit properly; and yes, their feet will grow faster than you can keep up with! A good rule of thumb is that if there is less than half an inch of space between the toes and the tip of the shoe, then you need to go up to a bigger size.
If a child is wearing shoes that do not fit correctly, it can lead to a whole range of problems from blisters to toe fractures. This is one of the reasons why wearing hand-me-down shoes is not usually recommended; they have been molded to fit someone else’s very unique feet. Children should also be resting and stretching their feet and legs as much as possible to avoid any possible complications due to overuse.When Foot Care Is Needed
To help with flatfeet, special shoes or orthotics may be prescribed. To correct mild in-toeing or out-toeing, your toddler may need to sit in a different position while playing or watching TV. If your child's feet turn in or out a lot, corrective shoes, splints, or night braces may be prescribed.
The foot's bone structure is well-formed by the time your child reaches age 7 or 8, but if a growth plate (the area where bone growth begins) is injured, the damaged plate may cause the bone to grow oddly. With a doctor's care, however, the risk of future bone problems is reduced.
Remember to check your child's shoe size often. Make sure there is space between the toes and the end of the shoe and that the shoes are roomy enough to allow the toes to move freely. Don't let your child wear hand-me-down shoes.
Children and Orthotics
Raising a child involves a constant barrage of questions. Should you bottle-feed? Is it time to start solids? How much screen time is too much? What toys are best for your child’s development? It’s not surprising that there is such a wide range of opinions, because every child and family is different. When discussing children and orthotics, though, there is one thing to keep in mind. Most children will not need orthotics when they are small. In fact, the best way for your child to develop healthy feet is to let him or her walk barefoot as much as possible between birth and 5 or 6 years of age. If they need shoes for protection, make sure they fit properly and are flexible enough to allow full movement of your child’s feet as they develop.When Your Child’s Foot Needs a Little Help
Even older children do best in breathable shoes with fairly flexible soles when they need footwear. However, there are some conditions in older children that might benefit from the use of orthotics. For example, if your child has flat feet that are causing him or her pain or interfering with running and playing normally, a good pair of orthotics may help. They may also be needed to correct severe in-toeing that causes your young one to stumble and fall a lot. This is especially true if he or she wants to participate in sports but finds that they are limited by a foot problem. Custom orthotics can correct gait or arch problems and enable kids to play normally.Choosing the Right Orthotic
If your child is complaining of foot pain or you notice their feet are flat, you could look in the store for over-the-counter heel cups or supports. However, to protect his or her feet and help them to grow healthy and strong, it is best to go to someone who knows both children and orthotics well—like Dr. Rahn Ravenell and Dr. Tamika Ravenell at Coastal Orthotics.
We understand how kids’ feet work and what kinds of problems can develop, and we understand orthotics—from braces to shoe inserts. With a thorough examination, we can pinpoint the exact cause of your child’s foot pain or other problem, and prescribe the right type of treatment to address it. There are many types of orthotics made from a wide variety of materials for a wide variety of purposes, so you really need a professional to help you sort through it all, and find the best solution for your child.Consistency Is Key
Orthotics won’t do much good if they aren’t worn. You might think your child won’t want to wear them, or that you won’t be able to get in the habit of making sure they do. The truth is, after an initial breaking-in time, well-fitted orthotics are comfortable, and your child will adjust just fine. In fact, if they make their feet feel better, they won’t want to be without them. It’s similar to a pair of glasses. Once kids realize how much better they can see, keeping the glasses on isn’t as big of a deal.
Sometimes children have a condition where orthotics will need to be used permanently, but other conditions—if caught early—can sometimes be corrected, so the supports can be discontinued after a time. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully so your child has a good experience with them.