6 Signs Your Child's Foot Development Is On the Right Track [Guest Post]
Ever wondered whether your kids' toes and heels are meant to look the way they do? It's pretty normal to question your child's foot development, so in this post, esteemed podiatrist Anna Beetham lays it all out - just what you need to know to rest assured that your kid's feet are developing perfectly.
By Anna Beetham
In early development kids' feet are rapidly growing; in fact, not all bones are formed at birth. Babies are born with only 22 bones in each foot, but by the age of 5, this increases to our adult 26 bones. Skeletal (bone) maturity does not occur until approx. 13-15 years (female) and 15-18 years (male).
The first few years are crucial, as the bones in your child's feet are made of soft cartilage that gradually converts to bone over time. It is therefore essential that your child's feet are looked after from birth to ensure they are fit for life.
Here are 6 signs that your child's foot development are on the right track:
1. Foot shape
By the time your child is 2 years old, their foot type/shape (that they’ve inherited from you) will become clear. The three main shapes are:
- Tapered – The biggest toe is the longest of all toes
- Rounded – The second or third toe is longer than the first
- Square – All toes are roughly the same length
2. Arch shape
Babies are born with a pad of fat in the arch area making their feet look flat-footed as their foot and leg muscles aren't developed enough to support their arches when they first begin to stand.
The arch of the foot doesn't usually develop until around 2 -3 years but by 7 years you should see a normal arch, once muscles have developed.
3. Walking (gait)
Children start to walk between 8-18 months with the average being 12-15 months. Most toddlers are flat footed and slightly turned in, have a classically broad based gait with a flexed (bent) knee and bowed legs. These positions will change as your child's strength improves and normal development of the lower limbs occur.
4. Knee position
A child’s knee position will change as they grow. As a knee position guide, it is normal for kids’ knees to be:
- Bowed until 2 years of age
- Straight between 2-4 years
- Knock-kneed between 4-7 years
- Straight by 7-12 years
- Knock-kneed again around 13-18 years
- And then finally straighten our permanently once adulthood is reached.
5. Growth spurts
Feet grow rapidly in the first year of a child's life reaching almost ½ their adult size. By 12 years of ages a child's foot is almost 90% of its adult size.
Growth spurts or rapid phases of growth tend to happen between 8-12 years for girls and 10-14 years for boys. These ages tend to mark a rapid outgrowing of shoes, orthoses and socks and makes the child seem more awkward and clumsy as they grow into their feet (and body).
6. Developmental foot and walking associated milestones
Milestones are skills and tasks that most children can do within a certain age range. These are just a gauge; it's important to recognise that each child is unique and will develop at their own rate.
- walk smoothly and begin to run
- walk up and down stairs without assistance
- walk on tip toes
- climb onto/down from furniture and play with equipment without assistance
- walk and run confidently around obstacles with sudden stops and changes of direction
- walk backwards toe to heel
- jump with two feet together over an object and land with feet together
- balance on one foot and hop 3-4 times
- perform skipping motion, albeit uneven after demonstration
- climb up and down stairs using one step at a time
- run lightly on toes
- walk with confidence balancing on a bean/log
- hop over a distance of approx. 2m
- begin skipping with a skipping rope
Footwear is imperative in the normal development of your child's feet. Correctly fitted shoes that function to enhance optimal movement, such as Bobux's kids shoes, are best for their foot health.
Normal wear patterns on footwear tends to occur on the central portion of the heel of the shoe up to ages 7-8 years. After this you’ll tend to see slightly more wear to the outside heel to the inside of the shoe as their gait changes. Checking for excessive (and/or asymmetrical) wear on your child's shoe will help you identify potential gait problems.
Children come in all shapes and sizes and so do their FEET! Having healthy feet is vital to a child's development and unresolved problems can become major issues for them later in life.
If you’re worried about your child's foot development or their gait, see a podiatrist who has experience with paediatric patients. Alternatively, learn more about kids' foot developmental stages today!