When caring for infants and children, foot health may not be at the top of your priority list alongside a safe crib or a nutritious diet. But foot health is just as important for children as it is for adults, and the foot conditions of children can persist and become more severe if not treated.
As early as infancy, take proper measures to ensure good foot health for your baby. This can be achieved with a few simple steps:
- Change the baby's position several times a day.
- Check your baby’s feet regularly for any signs of abnormality.
- Cover the baby's feet loosely tight covers restrict movement.
Toddlers and Late Childhood
As your child ages, be aware of their walking patterns. Feet which turn out or in as the child walks signal an underlying issue. Foot pain or swelling without explanation could be a sign of a serious condition and should not be ignored.
The feet of children grow very quickly, and it is also important to ensure that children always have properly fitting shoes. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your child’s trusted podiatrist as soon as possible.
Good health is all-encompassing for infants and children, from head to toe! By taking a few basic precautions, you can give your child the gift of foot health to take with them into adulthood.
Why Your Child’s Foot Care Is Important?
Having strong, healthy feet allows your child to walk, run, and play. If your child’s feet form correctly, certain types of back and leg pain can be avoided later in life. Exams of the feet and ankles ensure that your child’s bones are growing correctly. Your podiatrist can also make sure that your child is walking correctly. This helps prevent some future foot problems. And if a problem does arise, it can be handled early when it is easiest to treat.
Your Baby’s Feet
Both the size and shape of your child’s feet change quickly during the first year of life. Because a baby’s feet are flexible, too much pressure or strain can affect the shape of the foot. To help ensure normal growth, allow your baby to kick and stretch his or her feet. Also, make sure shoes and socks do not squeeze toes. Talk with your podiatrist if you are concerned about your baby’s feet. Many infants have feet that appear to turn in. This may worry you, but it is rarely a problem. The shape of the foot changes as your child grows.
Your Toddler’s Feet
Your toddler will walk when he or she is ready. Try not to force the issue. Instead, watch your child’s gait once he or she does begin to walk. Does the toe touch down instead of the heel? Does your child always sit while others play actively? If so, talk with your podiatrist. If your toddler’s feet are flat, and floppy don’t worry. This is usually normal. Also, many toddlers toe-in, but most out grow the problem.
Your Child’s Active Feet
The foot’s bone structure is pretty 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 your podiatrist’s care, however, the risk of future bone problems is reduced.
When Foot Care is Needed?
During a foot exam, the podiatrist will watch your toddler walk. If a problem exists, the doctor works to identify its cause. To help with severe flat feet, special shoes or orthoses (custom made shoe inserts) may be prescribed. To correct mild toeing-in, your toddler may need to sit in a different position while playing or watching TV. If your child’s feet tum in or out a lot, corrective shoes, splints, or night braces may be prescribed.
When to Call the Doctor?
If an injury is mild, your child will probably not remember it for very long. But if he or she keeps complaining of pain, have the injury checked by a podiatrist. Also, call your podiatrist anytime an injury causes serious swelling, localized tenderness, limping, or ongoing night pains.
Treating an Injury
If a bone or growth plate is damaged, your child may need to use crutches to take weight off the injury as it heals. In the case of a fracture, a cast, splint, or brace may be needed to hold the bone in place during healing.
If your child’s feet stay healthy and grow correctly, foot problems are less likely to occur later in life. For healthy young feet, be sure your child’s shoes. Outline your child’s foot when he or she is standing. Place the shoe over the tracing to see if the shoe is big enough to hold the foot comfortably. When possible, have your child’s feet measured at a shoe store. Pay attention to your child’s feet and the shoes you put them in. Remember the tips below.
— Check your child’s shoe size often. Make sure there is space between the toes and the end of the shoe. Wearing shoes that are too small cramps the foot. And this may affect foot function.
— Don’t let your child wear hand- me-down shoes. Because most shoes mold to the foot, wearing hand-me-downs can affect the shape of your child’s feet.
The podiatrists at Foot Centers of NC are highly trained to evaluate and treat any problems with your child’s feet. If you suspect a problem, contact your podiatrist immediately.