Children and Their Feet

Author: Australian Podiatry Association   Date Posted:8 April 2019 

Paediatric foot problems can appear very early.  They require attention, because the bones in a child’s foot are soft and pliable and easily damaged by constricting shoes, socks and even bedding. Shoes that fit are especially important for a young child’s rapidly growing feet.

Parents have to be on the alert for early developmental problems, since children do not usually complain about them.  Check with your Podiatrist at the first sign of excessive toeing in or out, flat feet, walking or standing strangely, stumbling, or tiring easily.  Help your children get off to a good start!


On our "walk through life," our feet undergo many changes.  The most critical period is the first three years of life, when the feet are rapidly developing.  A baby’s foot first begins to form in the womb and problems can arise if the baby is born with feet turned inward.  While learning to walk, one-year-olds tend to turn their feet outward to widen their base for stability.  By age three, however most children walk with their feet straight ahead.


Most babies begin life with their toes pointing slight out, however, if the unborn baby lies with its feet pressed against the womb the wrong way, it can be born with its feet turned inward.  The condition can make learning to walk difficult.  Tripping may be the first sign of toeing in.

Toeing in can often be corrected through stretching exercises.  The Podiatrist can teach parents some simple exercises that can help straighten out a baby’s feet.  The exercises take minutes a day and they are performed until the problem is corrected.


In some instances, plaster casts can be used to coax a baby’s feet back into a more normal position.  Just as braces gradually reposition teeth, casts gradually reposition feet.  The casts are changed periodically until the

Podiatrist determines that the feet are properly aligned.


Many babies naturally appear flat footed.  Usually, this will disappear as the baby begins to stand and walk.Children with flat feet, or low arches may not be able to keep up with other children because of the added strain on feet and legs.


Orthotic devices can be used to maintain proper foot support.  They are made of plastic and must be refitted as the child grows older.  Orthotics help to realign the foot and distribute body weight evenly.


If you suspect any foot problems, have a Podiatrist examine your child.  You may spare your child further problems later in life. 

For referral to a podiatrist in your area, call the Australian Podiatry Association in your state.

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