San Francisco Podiatrist – Children’s Feet
Like many aspects of good health, proper foot care begins in childhood. Attention to childhood foot disorders helps prevent future problems and supports normal development of a healthy body and active lifestyle. Feet experience 50 percent of their total lifetime growth in the first year. A baby’s feet should be covered loosely and exercised often. As the bones, ligaments, nerves, vessels and muscles shift to form the adult, weight bearing feet, it is important to be aware of potential issues so they can be diagnosed and treated immediately. Frequent examination of a baby’s feet will allow early detection of changes or abnormalities.
Feet undergo important developments when a child first begins to walk. This process should not be rushed, the body will decide when it’s ready to take on the pressure of walking, and normally starts anywhere between 10 and 18 months of age. Walking barefoot indoors helps the muscles and structure of the foot to develop normally. When outdoors or on rough surfaces, babies should wear loose, flexible shoes that protect the foot without restricting it. As the child grows and becomes more active, proper footwear is vital. Feet should be re-sized every few months and taping the feet or ankles before sporting events helps prevent injury. Childhood foot problems can originate from injuries, illnesses, hereditary foot issues or deformities, and poor footwear can aggravate any of these. Children are not always aware of or vocal about their own foot problems, so the adults in their lives need to watch for signs of trouble. Prolonged instability and difficulty walking can be indicative of foot and muscle conditions and should be addressed. Other symptoms of such conditions can include excessive pointing of the toes in or out, knock knees or an uneven gait. Children are also susceptible to infections from cuts or scrapes on the foot, wart-causing viruses and fungal infections.