Why Do Kids Need to See a Podiatrist?
If you are a parent, then this will sound more familiar than you think.
When caring for our children, we regularly reinforce healthy habits – we teach them to brush their teeth twice a day, we tell them to wash their hands before dinner, we persuade them to eat their vegetables, and we struggle to get them in the bath. But what about their feet?
Those little and still-developing feet will carry the weight and be the foundation of their bodies throughout the rest of their lifetimes. It only makes sense that we do the best we can to ensure that those little feet grow into adulthood in the healthiest way possible. But that is not always the case.
Often, we tend to forget how important it is to have healthy feet. Most kids will regularly go off on rants – as the curious beings that they are – children will talk and ask boat-loads of questions yet the topic of feet doesn’t usually come up. Kids sometimes are unable to recognize and voice to their parents if they are experiencing anything unusual. Other times the symptoms are too subtle to even notice.
Nevertheless, just like parents, children can struggle with flat feet, in-toeing, fractures and other problems. Some children are already born with foot conditions despite many people’s misconception that these problems gradually develop as we grow older.
Although in many cases these conditions can correct themselves without treatment, there are also instances when, if left untreated, the problem becomes detrimental. And that is why it is so important for parents to prevent these issues from taking a toll on our children’s futures.
Not sure what to look for when it comes to your child’s foot health? No worries! Keep reading and take some notes – we have great information on how to prevent and recognize if your child is experiencing any foot conditions.
Your Baby’s Feet
Your baby’s first step is one of the most important milestones in their life. This adventurous time usually happens when they are between 9-16 months old – holding their arms high and pointing their feet outwardly they learn how to balance their tiny body upon their unstable feet. And, once they do, then their feet can gradually close in and their arms will drop to their side.
During this learning period, your baby’s feet are soft and pliable – now that your baby is applying pressure to those little feet while they wobble around the house, deformities can easily settle in. Within your baby’s first year, their feet will grow to almost half of their adult foot size. And, that is why podiatrists consider this first year to be the most important in the development of your baby’s feet.
So, here are some things you can do to make sure your baby’s first year is healthy:
- Look at your baby’s feet carefully. If there seems to be anything unusual, see a podiatrist immediately.
- Never secure your baby’s legs and feet too tightly. Leave room for growth and movement – opt for loose fitting clothes and footwear.
- Allow your baby to exercise their feet. By leaving them uncovered for a while they will be able to kick their legs and feet.
- When your baby first begins to walk, keep them barefoot for the first 6-8 weeks (indoors). This helps their sensory system to develop – balance and movement.
Your Toddler’s Feet
As already mentioned, whenever your baby is at home or in a clean environment, it is best to leave the feet uncovered – this allows the feet to grow unrestricted. The same should be said for your toddler – ditch the shoes whenever they are indoors.
As your tot continues to grow and develop, you should also keep in mind to change their shoes and socks every few months. Yes, this can get a little expensive. However, if your child is wearing ill-fitting footwear, then pains, injuries, and deformities can occur. It is better to be safe than sorry – visit your local shoe store and never accept shoes which are handed down.
Below are some things you should take into consideration when buying your toddler’s shoes:
- Avoid shoes which are too short or narrow, and too long or broad. This can cause abnormal pressure, and trips.
- Opt for shoes with Velcro. Because they are adjustable, your tot may be able to use the shoes for a longer period of time.
- The heel of the shoe should be firm. If you purchase sandals, then their heels should be covered.
- Make sure the tip of the shoe is bendable. The shoe should bend where the ball of your tot’s foot sits – the rest of the shoe should be firm.
- Go for shoes that are lightweight. Less weight, less strain.
Common Conditions (And How to Spot Them)
Of course, if you notice any signs which indicate that your child’s feet are abnormal, then you should immediately seek out medical treatment. Here are some of the most common conditions:
- Flat feet
- Change in arch height
- Rolled-in ankles
- In-toeing or out-toeing
- Walking on tip-toes
You should see a podiatrist immediately if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Your child complains about their legs being tired
- Your child often asks to be carried or pushed in a stroller
- Your child is reluctant to walk
- Your child seems to be excessively clumsy or uncoordinated
- Your child complains of morning stiffness
- Your child’s shoes show unusual wear-patterns
Advice for Parents
You should never wait until your child begins to walk to take care of possible feet problems. And, always remember that lack of complaint from young children is not a reliable sign – the bones of their growing feet are extremely flexible and can be twisted or distorted without them even being aware of it.
The good news is that Dr. Joel Foster is a podiatrist in Lee’s Summit, Missouri who specializes in foot and ankle care for the entire family. We will love to meet your little ones and are dedicated to providing care that is gentle, comforting, and effective. To schedule an appointment, all you have to do is give us a call today at (816) 246-4222 or connect with us online.