It’s important to inspect your children’s feet often so that they avoid lower extremity problems later in life.

Infants

Your baby’s feet change in shape and size rather quickly during their first year. Because a baby’s feet are flexible, too much pressure or strain can affect their shape. Let your baby kick and stretch his or her feet freely. Make sure not to restrain their feet; their shoes and socks shouldn’t squeeze the toes.

Toddlers

Toddlers will walk when ready – do not to force it! Once walking begins, watch the toddler’s movement. Many toddlers have a normal pigeon-toe walk and some initially learn to walk landing on their toes instead of their heels. The good news is that most children outgrow both these problems. In some instances there may be other conditions detected early on and can be treated more easily.

When Foot Care Is Needed

Flat feet may be corrected or helped with the assistance of special shoes or orthotics. To correct mild in-toeing or out-toeing, your toddler may need to sit in a different position while sitting, playing or watching TV. If your child’s feet turn in or out a lot he or she may be prescribed a pair of corrective shoes, splints, or night braces.

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 abnormally. The risk of future bone problems is greatly reduced when under a physician’s care.

Remember to check your child’s shoe size often. There should be space between the toes and the end of the shoe and the shoes should roomy enough to allow the toes to move freely. Saving money on hand-me-down shoes isn’t worth the risk.