They patter on the floors as they run through the house. They wiggle and kick when you tickle them. You might find them proudly tromping around in your own shoes, even though your footwear is much too big. No one knows and cares about your child and his or her health the way you do. All parents want to protect their little ones and keep them safe. Taking care of your children’s feet is part of doing so.
Little Growing Limbs
You want the best for your child. So many of the habits and patterns that influence our bodies—including our feet and ankles—begin in childhood. Even though children are durable and tend to bounce back quickly from injuries, lower limb pain can keep them from being active or set them up for other problems later. Investing in their foot health now while they are still young can help provide children with stronger, safer feet later in life.
Babies’ feet are very different from adults’. Their bones are still underdeveloped and made of cartilage, making them soft and flexible. They’re also proportionally wider and flatter than their parents’. As they grow, the cartilage hardens into regular bone tissue, becoming mostly solid by age seven or eight and developing completely by the late teens. Young children’s feet grow rapidly, and their foot shape solidifies as they learn to walk. An arch forms as their walking improves, enabling them to push off the ground. The shoes and socks children wear are important, too. These have a direct influence on the support and development of the feet and ankles. Improper footwear can cause painful damage that could lead to complications later as well.
Keeping Them Healthy
The best way to take care of your little one’s feet and ankles is to monitor them closely and have them checked periodically by professionals, like the experts here at Sierra Foot & Ankle. Look over your child’s feet regularly to look for blisters or other changes in the lower limbs. Clip toenails straight across without being too short to avoid ingrown nails. Have his or her feet measured regularly, too. Since children’s feet grow so rapidly, they can quickly outgrow their socks and shoes. You will need to check to be sure their footwear isn’t squeezing their feet or toes, since that can negatively impact their development and growth. Choose shoes that are cushioned, wide enough for your child’s foot, and made of flexible, breathable material. As your child gets older, he or she can switch to sturdier foot gear.
Watch his or her feet as he or she learns to walk. Let your baby walk around in bare feet as much as you can; this helps the feet develop strong muscles. Mild intoeing and an awkward gait are normal in toddlers, but by the time your child is school age, he or she should have outgrown that. Arches should also develop by school age. If your child’s feet still appear to be flat, especially if he or she complains of discomfort, an orthotic to support the midfoot may be needed. Don’t ignore complaints of foot pain—seek help right away to discover the reason behind it, since your child may not be able to tell you exactly.
No one knows a child like a parent. If you’re concerned about your little one’s feet, don’t ignore the problem and hope it will resolve on its own later. Prompt, experienced care can help catch a problem before it becomes something serious, or soothe your concerns if no issue exists. Good children’s foot care can also help your little one avoid uncomfortable issues later in life. For in-depth and compassionate treatment for your child’s lower limbs, contact Sierra Foot & Ankle in Carson City or Gardnerville. Call our offices at 888-608-8406 or visit the online contact page to reach us for more information or an appointment.
Photo Credit: Daniel St.Pierre via FreeDigitalPhotos.net