Children’s Feet – Common Problems & Treatment
What are the biggest problems with little feet?
Children’s feet are very important as they have life-long tasks to perform. Most babies are born with normal, healthy feet that develop according to the guidelines. However, these growing years are the years where any developmental issues can occur, which is why it is important to pay close attention to the development of these little feet.
Let’s not be mistaken, children’s feet are not smaller adult feet! There are many things that can occur in children that do not occur in adults. Children can experience anything from delayed walking, tip-toe walking, flat feet, knock knees, intoe walking, ingrown toenails, plantar warts and more. Podiatrists are highly experienced at assessing, treating and managing children’s feet and lower limbs. Furthermore, they also work alongside other health professionals such as physiotherapists and osteopaths, to ensure your child is receiving the best possible care.
Common questions or concerns from parents
Parents are always concerned about their child’s development, especially when it comes to the development of their foot and lower limb. Parents also become concerned about the appearance of their child’s feet and lower limb, movement patterns and behaviour patterns, especially if they are not keeping up with their peers at school.
Some questions that commonly get asked include:
My child hasn’t started walking yet, is this normal?
Even though every child’s development is different and unique, there are average milestones that allow parents to better understand if their child needs to be assessed or is within the normal range.
- 4 months – from 4-6 months old, your baby learns to roll over
- 6 months – from 6 months up to 10 months, your baby learns to crawl
- 9 months – at around 9 months, your baby will start trying to pull themselves up while holding onto furniture
- 10 months – between 9-10 months, your baby will also be bending their knees and confidently sitting back down (from assisted standing) by themselves
- 12 months – between 9 and 12 months, your baby will progress from moving between pieces of furniture, to standing without holding on, to squatting after standing, and taking their first steps
If your child reaches 17 months and is still not walking or not showing any interest in walking, it would be advised for your child to be assessed to understand why.
My child has flat feet, is this normal?
The answer to this question is really dependent on their age and if they are presenting with any symptoms.
Young children tend to have less of a visible arch due to the prominent fatty pads in their feet. However, as they grow, their arch becomes more visible.
Children attending school who still have not developed an arch, their are some questions you should start asking:
- Are they getting any foot or lower limb pain?
- Do they complain of tired or fatigued feet and legs at the end of a day?
- Do they quickly wear down the insides of their shoes?
- Are they regularly tripping or falling?
- Are they keeping up with their peers at school or at their activities?
If they answer yes to any of those questions, it is recommended that your child sees a Podiatrist.
Common foot and lower limb issues in children’s feet
Common foot and lower limb issues we see in children include:
- Flat feet (rolled-in) feet
- In-toeing (pigeon toeing)
- Walking on tip-toes
- Slow to begin walking
- Bow legs
- Leg length difference
- Clumsiness or poor balance
- Regular tripping or falling
- Growing pains
- Low muscle tone
- Oddly shaped toes (curly/clawed)
- Ingrown toenails
- Bunions or other deformities
- Callus and corns
When your child starts to walk
When your child starts to walk, it is an amazing milestone for both yourself and your child! There are some things that you may start to notice which could cause some alarm bells.
- Flat feet – Flat feet in children are common, but not always a problem. Arch development will likely continue and stabilise at the age of 6 or 7 years old. However, if your child is complaining of pain that is affecting the way they walk or play, this is a red flag and they should be seen by a Podiatrist for a full assessment.
- In toe walking or out toe walking – most toddlers who walk with their feet pointed inwards or with their feet pointed outwards will start to walk more straight by the time they turn 2 years old. If this does not correct itself by 2 years old or they are complaining about being in pain, an assessment by a Podiatrist is warranted.
- Toe walking – Children who walk on their toes who can get their heels to the ground usually grow out of this phase. However, it is always good to have an assessment to make sure there are no underlying neurological issues that could have been missed.
- Knocked knees – this is normal up to the age of 7 when the arch develops. In saying this, can be the cause of some pain for your child, if this is the case an assessment is recommended.
Children’s feet are not little adult feet. Baby’s and toddler’s feet are soft and pliable as all the bones have not completely developed yet. This means that their feet can be damaged from shoes that are too tight or that can hinder their development. In saying this, babies and toddlers do not need to be in shoes when indoors. Below are some tips on how to choose the right footwear for your baby or toddler:
- Shoe fit – not having shoes too small or narrow is important as it can create high pressure areas on the bones and skin of the feet. This can in turn cause ingrown toenails, callus, corns and more. Furthermore, having shoes that are too long or wide can cause the toes to curl for stability or can cause the child to trip and fall. Also the length of the shoe should not be more or less than a thumbs length. This should be checked regularly as children grow fast!
- Adjustable fastening (laces, buckle, velcro) – this allows for the foot to be secure in the shoe and also allows for adjustment of the shoe.
- Heel Counter – having a heel counter also secures the foot in the shoe decreasing risk of trips, falls and also deformities of the bones and skin.
- Flexibility at the toes – the shoe should flex just before the toes, as this is where the foot bends to allow for propulsion.
- Lightweight – the heavier the shoe, the more the muscles have to work in the lower limb and foot during daily activities.
Want to see a podiatrist?
If you are worried about the development of your child or they are complaining of pain in their feet and/or lower limb, it is important to have a full assessment conducted by a Podiatrist. This will make sure that their transition into adulthood is as seamless as possible and will also allow them to run around and be the unique child they are!
Call 03 9553 0044 or make an appointment HERE for an assessment with one of our team!