One of the most common discussions I have with parents within my clinic is around the topic of children’s feet and ‘normal’ walking patterns.
It is important to highlight that a child’s feet differ from those of adults, as they are still developing and forming. So, let’s talk about development.
And so, as a baby, your child has 22 partially developed ‘bones’, and by the time they are an and 18-year-old, these will become 26 bones. And between birth and age 4, the foot almost doubles in size.
At six months of age, the foot is still mostly cartilage, in fact the last bone doesn’t begin to form until children are approximately 4 years old.
With that in mind, children’s feet are soft and pliable, making them prone to damage from abnormal pressure experienced from shoes, sitting and walking patterns.
Foot care can begin in infancy by keeping your baby’s feet unconstrained. Grow suits should always be loose around your baby’s feet. Making time for your baby to kick freely will help with the development of the muscles in the legs and feet.
Allowing babies to go barefoot or to wear just socks helps the foot grow normally and promotes grasping action of toes.
3. Walking and Running Patterns
Children usually begin to walk any time between ten and 24 months of age. However, it is important to remember that each child is unique and will move through the development stages at their own pace.
Each child follows a developmental sequence from lying to sitting, crawling, standing, cruising, walking to running, jumping and hopping.
Sometimes children walk with their feet pointed inward (in-toeing) or outwards (out-toeing). In most cases, these variations in walking are normal. Most children will have grown out of these walking styles by the age of 1.5 to 2. However, if these patterns persist, or you have concerns, you should see your podiatrist.
Children walking on their toes (toe-walking) is not normal and should be seen by a podiatrist.
Arch development is also an individual thing and tends to stabilise over time, however if pain is noticed and general foot and shin fatigue is experienced by the child, you should see a podiatrist for management.
4. Heel Pain
Heel pain can also occur in growing children, usually between the ages of eight and 13 , as they increase their participation in sporting activities.
Heel pain that limits activity or is present all the time should be checked by a podiatrist.
Our Podiatrists at Bexley Podiatry: Foot & Ankle Clinic will be able to determine whether or not the heel pain is related to the developmental process and give advice and tailor a management plan to alleviate the symptoms.