Feet Development in Children – What You Need to Know

Many people underestimate the importance of their own feet! In children, this importance is doubled, as they are constantly developing. As the feet of young children are soft and pliable, abnormal pressures easily cause the foot to deform. During the first year of growth, the foot reaches almost half their adult foot size. This means that the first year is incredibly important for the well-being of their feet.

  • Ingrown Toenails – Treatment is usually required
  • Non-Specific Growing Pains – A common complaint of children, these often cause a deep ache-like pain in the leg during the night. 
  • Sever’s disease and Calcaneal apophystis – Growing pains in the heel.
  • Osgood-schlatters disease – Growing pains in the knee.
  • Clubfoot – A relatively rare deformity at birth, it may cause problems in later life after correction. 
  • Sweat – Older children may experience a smelly odour from their feet.

Foot Pain in Children

Foot pain in children isn’t very common due to the flexibility and resilience of their tissues. However, issues may occur. Here is a sample of problems that children may face:

Flatfoot in Children

Flexible flatfoot or a pronated foot is usually painless, yet it may cause an ache, especially if a child is overweight. Very young children may have a ‘fat pad’ in the arch area of the foot. This gives the appearance of a flat foot, yet it isn’t. However, if the foot also rolls inward at the ankle, it is a cause for concern. Children often grow out of this problem. If both parents have flat feet, they are less likely to grow out of it. Treatment options include foot orthotics if the problem is severe.

In-Toe and Out-Toe Walking

In-toeing is a common problem with children. When you walk, your feet should point straight ahead. Children often point their feet inwards, which causes them to trip more often than others. Usually, children grow out of this problem, yet options are available for those that don’t. Special shoes, stretching exercises, and other treatments are available. 

Once they reach two-years-of-age, they should be walking with their feet pointed forward or slightly outward. If the angle is excessively outward, this is called out-toeing. This isn’t as common as in-toeing, and this is usually just a part of a child’s normal development. 

For both problems, reassurance is often all that is needed. Treatment may be required for persistent or severe cases, as abnormal pressure may be placed on the foot structure and function. Special shoes and foot supports may be required in this case.

Metatarsus Adductus

Feet that bend inwards from the middle of the feet to the toes are sometimes a problem in infants after birth. Termed metatarsus adductus, it usually improves on its own without any treatment. If the child reaches 6-9 months with no improvement, special corrective shoes or casts may be needed.

Toe Walking

Toe walking is a common condition if your child is taking its first steps. It may be a sign of a condition that needs further investigation, especially if the range of motion in the ankle joint is limited. Most cases of toe walking are habitual, and your child should grow out of it. 

This issue can be caused by a range of conditions, including the following:

  • Habit (The Usual Cause)
  • Cerebral Palsy 
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Leg Length Differences
  • Spinal Cord Abnormalities
  • Achilles Tendon Shortness

If it is a mild shortness problem, stretching exercises and physical therapy may be necessary. If toe walking is severe and persistent, then casting, Botox injections, or surgery may be needed. All cases of toe walking need to be evaluated by professionals to rule out the causes.

Why Visit a Podiatrist?

Choosing the Right Footwear

Many adult foot problems have their origins in childhood, so attention to footwear can minimise the risk of these problems. Poorly fitted shoes are often a root cause. Therefore, it is essential to provide correctly fitted shoes for your child. This allows them to enjoy childhood without any unnecessary aches and pains in their feet.

  • Uneven Shoe Wear
  • Lumps or Bumps in the Feet
  • Pain in the Feet or Legs
  • Tripping or Falling 
  • Skin or Toenail Problems

If you are unsure, it is often best to take your child to a podiatrist such as myself. The following issues may be a cause for concern if your child experiences some of them:

Contact me, in Sidcup, Bexley, to find out more about my podiatrist services.