Investing in Your Child
Kids seem to always be running around from one activity to the next. Whether it’s a baby toddling to the nearest bookshelf to happily empty it of all its contents, or a middle school student on the soccer field for practice after school, children put their feet to good use. Since their feet are still growing, their lower limbs need extra care to be sure they don’t develop injuries that could follow them into adulthood and create long-term problems. Good children’s foot care is an important part of that.
Parents want their children to stay happy, healthy, and pain free. While it may be impossible to protect your little one from all problems or pain, you certainly can invest in their health and safety, which will help them in the long run. Good children’s foot care involves understanding that their feet are different from an adult’s, and carefully monitoring their growth and comfort.
Babies are born with soft, flexible feet. Their lower limb bones are still undeveloped and made mostly of cartilage. Their feet are proportionally wider and their arches are flatter, since they haven’t fully formed. Their lower limbs grow rapidly, with bones mostly formed by about school age and reaching maturity in the late teen years. When they first begin to walk, children sometimes display slight intoeing and may prefer to walk on their toes, but they should grow out of that as their feet get stronger and more solid. In general, being active and walking around in bare feet is good for toddlers and small children; it allows their muscles and connective tissues to develop. As the child gets older, shoes become more important for protecting their lower limbs.
Protecting Soft Feet
Taking care of your little one’s feet generally involves monitoring their health and development. Wash and thoroughly dry your child’s lower limbs regularly. Take that time to examine his or her feet and ankles. Young children may not be able to clearly express if something is bothering them, so look for blisters or other changes. Clip the toenails straight across so that the nails are less likely to grow inward. Some intoeing, flat feet, or toe walking are normal in babies and toddlers, but if these symptoms are impairing your little one’s walking, or last for several years, you child may need treatment.
Shoes and socks have a direct impact on the health of children’s feet as well. Since the lower limbs grow so quickly, you need to make sure that your child’s footwear is not too tight. Choose soft socks that don’t squeeze the feet or ankles, and replace them when needed. Don’t rush to put your baby into shoes—allowing the feet to kick and wiggle freely helps them develop. The first shoes should be soft and wide to accommodate the foot structure. Have your child’s feet measured regularly to keep the lower limbs from becoming cramped in out-grown shoes. Early shoes should be wide and relatively flexible. Older children can move into footwear with more arch support and stability.
Good children’s foot care matters. Helping them stay healthy and avoiding painful problems early in life can help set their feet up for success when they are older. In addition to looking after your child’s lower limbs on your own, have them examined by a professional like Dr. Gerald Mauriello to monitor their growth and evaluate any potential problems. If you child is already struggling with discomfort, don’t ignore the issue. Contact us for an appointment or more information to restore your child’s feet today. Visit the online contact page or call one our our office locations in Belvidere or Hackettstown, NJ at (908) 475-8750 to reach us.