Your Children's Feet
You worry about your children's teeth, eyes, and other parts of the body. You teach washing, brushing, and grooming, but what do you do about your child's feet? Those developing feet which have to carry the entire weight of the body through a lifetime. Many adult foot ailments have their origins in childhood and are present at birth. Periodic professional attention and regular foot care can minimize these problems in later life. Neglecting foot health invites problems in other parts of the body, such as the legs and back. There can also be undesirable personality effects. The youngster with troublesome feet walks awkwardly and usually has poor general posture. As a result, the growing child may become shy, introverted, and avoid athletics and social functions. Consultation between the podiatrist, pediatrician, and other medical specialists helps to resolve these related problems.
Your Baby's Feet
The human foot--one of the most complicated parts of the body. It has 26 bones, and is laced with ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Because the feet of young children are soft and pliable, abnormal pressure can easily cause deformities. A child's feet grow rapidly during the first year, reaching almost half their adult foot size. This is why foot specialists consider the first year to be the most important in the development of the feet. Here are some suggestions to help you assure that this development proceeds normally:
Look carefully at your baby's feet. If you notice something that does not look normal to you, seek professional care immediately. Deformities will not be outgrown by themselves. Cover baby's feet loosely. Tight covers restrict movement and can retard normal development. Provide an opportunity for exercising the feet. Lying uncovered enables the baby to kick and perform other related motions which prepare the feet for weightbearing. Change the baby's position several times a day. Lying too long in one spot, especially on the stomach, can put excessive strain on the feet and legs.
Starting to Walk
It is unwise to force a child to walk. When physically and emotionally ready, the child will walk. Comparisons with other children are misleading, since the age for independent walking ranges from 10 to 18 months. When the child first begins to walk, shoes are not necessary indoors. Allowing the youngster to go barefoot or to wear just socks helps the foot to grow normally and to develop its musculature and strength, as well as the grasping action of toes. Of course, when walking outside or on rough surfaces, babies' feet should be protected in lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials.
As a child's feet continue to develop, it may be necessary to change shoe and sock size every few months to allow room for the feet to grow. Although foot problems result mainly from injury, deformity, illness, or hereditary factors, improper footwear can aggravate preexisting conditions. Shoes or other footwear should never be handed down.The feet of young children are often unstable because of muscle problems which make walking difficult or uncomfortable. A thorough examination by a podiatrist may detect an underlying defect or condition which may require immediate treatment or consultation with another specialist.
Millions of Australian children participate in team and individual sports, many of them outside the school system, where advice on conditioning and equipment is not always available. Parents should be concerned about children's involvement in sports that require a substantial amount of running and turning, or involve contact. Protective taping of the ankles is often necessary to prevent sprains or fractures. Parents should consider discussing these matters with their family podiatrist if they have children participating in active sports. Sports-related foot and ankle injuries are on the rise as more children participate actively in sports.
Children’s Feet Tips
Problems noticed at birth will not disappear by themselves. You should not wait until the child begins walking to take care of a problem you've noticed earlier.
Remember that lack of complaint by a youngster is not a reliable sign. The bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without the child being aware of it.
Walking is the best of all foot exercises, according to podiatrists. They also recommend that walking patterns be carefully observed. Does the child toe in or out, have knock knees, or other gait abnormalities? These problems can be corrected if they are detected early.
Going barefoot is a healthy activity for children under the right conditions. However, walking barefoot on dirty pavements exposes children's feet to the dangers of infection through accidental cuts and to severe contusions, sprains, or fractures. Another potential problem is plantar warts, a condition caused by a virus which invades the sole of the foot through cuts and breaks in the skin. They require protracted treatment and can keep children from school and other activities.
Be careful about applying home remedies to children's feet.
Preparations strong enough to kill certain types of fungus can harm the skin.
Your podiatrist has been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and treatment of all manner of foot conditions. This training encompasses all of the intricately related systems and structures of the foot and lower leg including neurological, circulatory, skin, and the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
10 tips for buying school shoes
Children spend around 30 hours a week in their school shoes, or more than 15,000 hours during their school years, so it’s vital they’re fitted properly. In the first 11 years of a child's life, feet will grow through around 17 shoe sizes, up until they’re 18 years of age, and ill-fitting shoes can lead to problems in adulthood, such as ingrown toenails, corns and bunions, which may even require surgery later in life.
Here are ten tips to buying perfectly fitting school shoes.
Make sure both feet are measured
Whether you measure your child’s feet in-store yourself, or a children’s shoe specialist does the job, make sure both feet are measured. Most children, and adults, will have one foot that is longer or wider, so it’s vital to check both feet. Don’t buy over-large shoes, as they can lead to injuries, and different lace-up techniques can alter the fit – something that’s always worth checking with a shoe fitter.
School shoe checklist
When fitting your child with new school shoes, here are some important points to remember:
There should be a child’s thumb width between the end of the shoe and the end of the longest toe.
The widest part of the foot should correspond with the widest part of the shoe.
The fastening mechanism should hold the heel firmly in the back of the shoe.
The sole should not twist.
The heel should be snug but comfortable and the back part of the shoe strong and stable.
Kids’ feet are individual
Your children's feet are still growing and the bones in their feet, still developing. Around half of kids will have flat feet and a fifth may have high arches. As such, shoes need to be stable with good cushioning, providing internal and external support. If you can, see a professional shoe fitter when buying school shoes, as manufacturers often make varying styles for different foot shapes.
Check for the toe wiggle
If you're unsure whether new school shoes fit correctly or not, just check for the toe wiggle - your child should be able to move their toes freely, the shoes shouldn't hurt and there should be no bulges from the toes on either side of the shoe.
Shoes will often last a school year
After the age of three your child’s foot will grow about half a size every six months, meaning that school shoes will generally last between nine months and a year. However, if your child has a growth spurt during the school year, their feet may have shot up in size, too, so have them measured by a footwear fitter.
Quality shoes last longer
While school shoes are another necessary expense, bear in mind that buying better quality shoes might actually save you money, as they won't wear down so easily and need to be replaced during the school year. Look for soles made from rubber and double-stitching around the toe area will give shoes a longer life.
Avoid slip-on shoes and hand-me-downs
For eBay-savvy parents, it's also a sad fact that school shoes are one thing you shouldn't buy second-hand online, or at garage sales, as a worn shoe will have moulded to the shape of the previous child's foot and could cause problems for your child's feet. Slip-on shoes are also not recommended for long-term use, with podiatrists advising lace-up, Velcro or buckle-up shoes for school-children.
Buy shoes at the end of the day
While you might decide to head out bright and early to get your child's shoes fitted, bear in mind that it's best to go during late afternoon, as children's feet often get a little more swollen by the end of the day. That way, you'll get school shoes fitted when your child's feet are at their biggest.
Have growing pains checked out
In years gone by, children complaining of pain in the legs and feet would be told not to worry as it was just due to 'growing pains'. Expert opinion has since changed, and podiatrists now recommend parents get any foot or leg pain checked out, as most foot pain in children is preventable.
Other things to look out for
While you might usually expect to only think about school shoes and your kids' feet once a year, here's a checklist of things to look out for, and see a podiatrist if necessary:
Children complaining of pain in the feet, heel, knee or legs.
Unexplained tripping and falling (if it happens regularly).
Uneven shoe wear, or one shoe that wears down before the other.
Skin or toenail irritation.