Children’s Feet

Little feet & related problems

Feet don’t always rate highly on the list of health concerns, but little feet are a big responsibility. The natural development of a child’s legs and feet is complex and the first four years of growth sees the greatest changes.

Children start walking when their feet and legs are ready to support them, which is usually between nine and eighteen months. A fatty pad is present in the arch at birth, which means that when standing the arch may appear very flat. A normal arch will form at about two to three years. Toddlers walk with arms held out for balance and short steps. Shoes for the early walker should be light, have a firm sole which bends easily at the ball of the foot, and be wide enough with adjustable fasteners. Always have your child’s feet measured when buying shoes.

At 2 years the child often looks down at the feet with arms extended but arm swing will start at about this age. The length of each step will increase as a heel strike develops. The child is becoming more stable when standing. Because of the hip and leg positions at this age a child may appear pigeon-toed and awkward when walking. Shore footed Podiatry Ltd can check this if it does not improve over 6 months. Shoes for this age group should be firm around the heel to support the heel bone, wide enough for the forefoot and roomy for the toes.

At around four to five years children often go through a stage of appearing bow legged at first, then knock-kneed! This is because of the rotation occurring in the tibia and femur as they develop. At around 5 years old they will grow out of this and the knees should appear straight. When walking the heel to toe action of the adult walking pattern starts to develop. Children at this age are very active and play on hard surfaces so the sole of the shoe should be cushioned and supportive, quality sports shoes are great.

By seven years of age the adult walking pattern is usually established. Various ‘growing pains’ may develop in the legs and feet from now into the teenage years. This is often due to sudden growth spurts that put stress on tendon attachments to bone. Several factors can contribute to these such as excessively ‘flat feet’. Jonathan and Wendy Hagon can assess children’s foot and leg development and offer a variety of treatments, which can prevent future problems for children.