Baby and Toddler Foot Problems

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    Footwear may not be the first thing you think of with a new born baby, but foot health is very important. First walking shoes are vitally important to your child's foot health. Whilst your child is learning to move about, they are developing musculature and strength in their back, legs and feet so it is a very important time to protect their feet. Shoes play an important factor when it comes to children’s feet. For children starting to walk, they need shoes to protect their feet and help them adapt from the position of crawling to taking those very first steps.

    It is important to always choose stable, properly fitted shoes or trainers of appropriate width, made with leather or canvas uppers. From birth, children’s feet start developing and growing and so it’s important to know how to care for them from the outset. Research has shown that most forefoot problems are not simply inherited, but actually develop in response to wearing poorly styled shoes.

    Many problems in children’s feet are associated with growth and development, weight gain and changes in posture. Some changes in children feet are part of natural development and others require professional attention and treatment. The foot is a very complex system consisting of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles according to Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust Report, 2010.

    In their report, one quarter of all the bones in the human body is located in the feet. 85% of young children ages 6 months to 3 years have wide feet. Children’s feet take the weight of the whole body, so foot problems can quickly lead to discomfort and affect the way children walk. This can in turn cause knee, hip and back pain. However, the good news is that looking after your child’s feet can prevent most of these problems. A child's foot is so flexible such that in the early stages it can easily be squeezed into an ill-fitting shoe.

    The report suggests parents should not to allow their children to go to bed without washing their feet. If you leave dirt on the child’s skin surface it can become irritated and infected. After washing and drying, it is important to apply a moistening foot cream (not body lotion) or baby oil.

    Parents should remember to change sock sizes as they grow as ill-fitting, too tight socks can also cause problems with toes. Careful measuring of feet and a good choice of shoes is very important for healthy little feet. Well-fitting socks and tights are also important to avoid toes being crushed up in the shoe.

    Things to look for when shopping for children’s shoes:

    • Shoes that come in whole and half sizes, and in up to five width fittings, to ensure the best fit for your child. 
    • Look for footwear which is wide at the toe and narrow at the heel 
    • Insoles that are lightweight flexible and non-slip to make walking easier for children. 
    • Shoes made from breathable materials such as leather to allow the feet to breathe. 
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