Children’s foot care is just as important as good foot care for adults – and often even more so!
Children’s feet grow and develop quickly, and you likely have the shoe budget to prove it. It’s important to help ensure that this period of development progresses smoothly, and that any potential problems are identified and addressed promptly. Doing so helps ensure that your child reaches maturity with as few discomforts and other complications as possible.
Your child’s foot and ankle health should receive the same attention as the dental or vision care – regularly checked up, and then acted upon whenever a problem may be present.
From newborns to teens, there is always something worth keeping an eye on. Here are some simple tips for children’s foot care covering various stages of life.
Only Lightly Cover a Baby’s Feet
Try not to constrain your baby’s feet beneath restrictively pulled covers, too-tight socks, and other materials. Letting your child’s feet kick and move freely will aid in their strength and development, and better prepare them for walking.
Hold Off on Shoes for a While as Well
A baby does not need to wear shoes. Such footwear only becomes a real consideration once your child starts walking.
And even once your child begins to toddle about, shoes do not need to be a constant. Only use them when your child’s feet need to be protected, and let them walk barefoot or in socks where it is safe to do so in the home. Walking without shoes will not only help further build strength and motor skills in your child’s feet, but also aid their sensory development as well.
Do Use Shoes Outdoors
Walking barefoot outdoors on wood, pavement, and other surfaces is a common cause of injuries such as splinters, cuts, and burns. Even walking barefoot in the grass can be a risk, as you don’t always know what’s concealed underfoot.
In addition to injuries, infections such as plantar warts are more likely to be picked up by bare feet being in the wrong places. Children already tend to be more susceptible to plantar warts than adults as their immune system is not as fully developed, and any cuts or injuries to the skin provide more opportunities for warts to take a hold.
And if your child does happen to get any minor cuts or scrapes on their feet, wash them gently with soap and water, then cover them with a bandage until they are healed.
Invest in Properly Fitting Shoes
When it is shoe time, make sure the shoes fit well and have not become too small for your child’s growing feet.
Depending on your child’s age and the rate of their foot growth, you may expect to require new shoes anywhere from 1-3 times per year. Usually the younger they are, the faster their feet grow. Keeping your child in shoes that are too small and tight can not only cause discomfort and pain, but can contribute to problems such as ingrown toenails as well.
Whenever you look for new shoes, make sure you have your child’s foot size measured so you know where their shoe size generally stands. But just because they are measured at a certain size does not mean every shoe marked as that size will fit well.
A shoe that fits well should have about a thumb’s width of space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe, as well as enough room for your child’s toes to wiggle freely inside the shoe. Also, look for a heel that doesn’t slip easily while walking and a non-skid or skid-resistant sole.
It may be tempting to go with shoes that are a little larger than your child currently needs or with hand-me-down shoes from bigger kids, but we do not recommend either of these ideas. These shoes will very likely fail to provide the full support your child needs now and can lead to painful problems.
Watch for Signs of Foot and Heel Pain
Heel pain can occur in children for a variety of reasons. Some instances can be attributed to an abnormality in foot structure, while more specific conditions such as Sever’s disease can often be found in active children around the ages of 8-14.
However, a child might not always be forthcoming about their discomfort. They might be afraid of needing to go to a doctor or of having to sit out of games. Sometimes they are simply not aware that their feet aren’t supposed to hurt.
Be mindful of signs that may indicate your child is having persistent foot or heel pain. These can include:
- Not wanting to participate in activities they once loved, or wanting to end them earlier than usual.
- Asking to be picked up and carried more often.
- Lagging behind other children in activities.
- Visibly limping or walking gingerly.
If such behaviors are becoming common, it may be time to bring your child to us for an evaluation.
Keep Young Feet Clean
We know you likely want this – and that your child might not – but this is a battle that’s worth winning.
Making sure your child’s feet are clean every day (and that they wash their feet when they become of proper age to), will help prevent infections and other problems from arising. Washing those feet means using soap and a washcloth or loofah directly on the feet – not just letting soapy water run down over them!
Feet should also be fully dried before putting on any socks or shoes. Moisture trapped against the feet can lead to discomfort and skin problems.
Foot Care Now Can Mean a Brighter Future Later
The sooner any potential foot or ankle problem can be addressed, the better. And for children who are quickly growing, early care can make a big difference when it comes to comfort and mobility in the future.
Never hesitate to contact us if you have concerns about your child’s foot or ankle health. Feel free to call our office or fill out our online contact form.