Proper foot care is important for children of all ages, as foot problems that crop up later in life often stem from childhood issues. Proper foot care for children is the same as adults: keep the feet clean and dry, wear appropriate, well-fitting, and protective footwear designed for the activity or sport the child is participating in, and contact a podiatrist as soon as any foot pain or injury occurs. With children, it is also important to make sure shoes sizes are checked frequently due to foot growth, as shoes that are too small can lead to foot and toe problems.
For infants, foot shape and size change rapidly before the child reaches his or her first birthday. Since babies have feet that are flexible and still forming, their feet should be able to stretch out and kick without restriction. Excessive pressure or restrictive shoes and socks can impact the shape of a baby’s still-forming foot. Toddlers should walk when they are ready, without being forced to take their first steps prematurely. Gait problems are common when toddlers learn to walk; issues such as in-toeing and toe walking are usually outgrown and resolve on their own. By age 8, a child’s bone structure of the feet is well-formed.
When it comes to many foot problems, early detection is key to preventing future issues and deformities. For example, for flatfeet or more serious in-toeing or out-toeing, the child may need corrective shoes, orthotics, splints, and/ or night braces to help resolve the issue. If a fracture or injury occurs to a growth plate, the bone may experience improper growth and develop problems later on. Therefore, it is important to have fractures checked, diagnosed, and treated by a doctor.