As they are not yet fully formed, it’s essential to keep in mind that children’s feet are very different from those of adults. While the foot is still developing, it can be more susceptible to injuries and other problems. Learn more about the development of children’s feet by reading below.
When a child is just 6 months old, the foot consists of mostly cartilage. The last bone starts to form at the age of 3, and it isn’t until age 18 that the majority of bones have become fully formed. Until then, the feet are still soft and pliable, and susceptible to damage. This is why it’s crucial to ensure children are fitted with shoes that aren’t too small or cause abnormal pressure.
While most children begin to walk before the age of 24 months, it’s important to keep in mind that every child is unique and will move at their own pace through the development sequence. The first stage of this is often moving from lying to sitting, then to crawling, before graduating to standing. Walking usually follows this, which in turn leads to running, jumping and hopping. When they first begin to walk, it’s not necessary for a child to wear shoes indoor. In fact, enabling infants to go barefoot or wear socks assists the foot in growing normally. It also helps to develop the grasping action of the toes.
Children will sometimes begin to walk with their feet pointed inward (known as in-toeing), or outward (known as out-toeing). There are even some who start walking on their toes (known as toe-walking). In many instances, these varying walking styles are normal, and are often grown out of by the age of 2. However, if it continues past this age, or you’re concerned about its occurrence, taking your child to a podiatrist is recommended. Arch development is another individual variance, but usually tends to stabilise by age 6 or 7. It’s important to remember that the height of the arch does not necessarily indicate that a child will experience foot problems.
By the age of 1, your child’s feet will have grown twice their size, and by 18 months, the feet are approximately half their full-grown length. As they continue to grow, it’s essential to ensure that the correct sizes of shoes and socks are supplied to accommodate the rapid growth that occurs throughout childhood. It’s recommended to check sizing every 1 to 3 months until the age of 3, and every 4 months until the age of 5. This can be reduced to every 6 months from age 5 onwards. To ensure the best fit and avoid injury, it’s recommended to have children’s shoes fitted by a children’s footwear specialist.
Heel pain is a condition that can occur from age 8 in growing children, and is often caused by an increase in activity participation, such as in sporting events. If this pain is limiting in any way, or is present at all times, it’s recommended to get it checked by a podiatrist, who can determine if the pain is caused by the developmental process. They can then provide haelpful advice and information regarding methods of alleviating pain and symptoms.
Taking your child to a podiatrist is recommended if you become aware of any problems with their feet. If you notice signs of uneven wear on your child’s shoes, this could be indicative of an issue that should be corrected to prevent future problems. You should also keep your eye out for any skin rashes, hard skin lumps or bumps that occur upon the feet. It’s also advised to visit a podiatrist if your child often experiences pain in the feet or legs, or if you notice that they’re often tripping or falling over.