Your children’s feet grow quickly during their first years of their life. Babies have only 22 bones in their foot but by the time they are 5, they have 26. Full bone maturity doesn’t happen until they are between 13 and 15 years of age for females and between 15 and 18 years for males. So, you can see how important it is to make sure your child’s feet are watched from birth on to make sure they are fit to walk into life!
Many parents are eager for their kids to start walking but the thing to remember is that children will begin to walk when they are both emotionally and physically capable to walk. However eager you are, it is best that you try not to force a child to start walking. Try hard not to compare your child with other children because the age range for walking varies greatly even between twins. It is important to change both their shoe and sock size every few months to allow plenty of room for growing feet. They will walk when they are strong enough to do so.
Kids often walk around barefoot. Although barefoot walking is actually encouraged early on in life as it helps the feet with development, parents however, must watch out for splinters and cuts along with bumps and bruises. Walking barefoot also can introduce plantar warts that are caused by a virus that enters the sole of the foot through any breaks in the skin. To avoid, injury and ailments, make sure your child has shoes on in any unsanitary environments and make sure to keep your child’s feet clean.
If your child goes through a very noticeable growth spurt, he or she can be prone to developing Sever’s disease – an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel. Sometimes, the heel bone grows faster than the other muscles, tendons and ligaments and causes Sever’s disease. Some other common foot problems in children are athletic injuries, splinters, ingrown toenails, plantar warts, in-toeing, out-toeing, flat feet and other biomechanical abnormalities which can lead to instability, aches, pains and falls. Parents should look for these common foot issues especially when kids go back to school.
Any foot pain lasting for more than a day or two which affects a child’s ability to walk should be examined by a podiatrist. Many adult foot issues begin at childhood – in fact, they could be present at birth such as flat foot, ingrown toenails and plantar warts. Early treatment and intervention can prevent many foot issues down the road.
Parents should be vigilant about watching how their child’s feet are developing as they grow. It is important that you perform routine checks to diagnose any injuries or deformities in early stages. You should contact your provider if you see a problem – no matter how small it may seem.
Early detection and treatment will help to ensure that your child does not develop any serious foot conditions.
Don’t forget about your feet – they are the foundation of your body!
Emil Lavian, DPM
Dr. Lavian sees both adult and pediatric patients at the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center.