Kids’ Foot Health: What to Look For
Proper foot health and care in the first several years of life can have a profound impact on a child’s long-term health, activity, and happiness. On this point, there’s some good news and bad news:
- The good news is that most childhood foot, ankle, and leg problems are treatable through conservative care, and in some cases may even correct themselves without treatment.
- The bad news is that kids may not have the words, awareness, or desire to tell you when something really is bothering or hurting them. That means as a parent, it’ll be up to you to recognize when your child needs care.
But don’t let that discourage you! Here are a few key things to watch for as your child grows.
Check for Structural Abnormalities
Some abnormalities are immediately apparent at the time of birth, or very soon thereafter. Others may not become apparent until your little one begins to walk. Common abnormalities include:
- Flat feet
- Legs and feet that are rotated inward or outward (in-toeing or out-toeing)
- Severely twisted feet (clubfoot)
- Webbed toes
- Extra toes
Check for Infections and Injuries
Kids are especially susceptible to various skin and nail problems for many reasons—underdeveloped immune systems, poor hygiene, and increased exposure to infected surfaces chief among them. They also can get into a lot of trouble on the playground! Check for obvious signs of:
- Ingrown toenails
- Athlete’s foot
- Foot warts
Watch Their Walk
True, it takes time for that distinctive toddler’s waddle to develop into a strong, powerful, adult-like stride. But keep an eye out for more unusual or abnormal walking gaits, which could indicate underlying neurological or muscular issues. Examples include:
- Walking on tiptoes constantly
- Bow legs
- Knock knees
- Dragging feet
- High stepping
Check Their Shoes Regularly
Kids’ feet grow fast! During the first few years of shoe wearing (which should start once your child begins walking outside), you may have to replace their shoes two, three, even four times per year as they grow out of them. Although this is frustrating for any parent, tight shoes can have very damaging effects on a child’s comfort and foot development.
Spot the Signs of Discomfort
If you’re lucky, your child will let you know when, where, and why their feet are hurting, so you don’t have to guess. However, if they aren’t as forthcoming, you should learn to spot the signs yourself. This can include:
- Limping, tripping, falling, walking gingerly, or any other evidence that they aren’t walking or running properly.
- Sudden, voluntary withdrawal from sports, play, and other activities they used to enjoy. They may simply bow out early of a play session, or avoid it entirely.
- Frequent requests to be carried, or to stop and sit.
- Resistance to letting you see their feet.
By keeping a watchful eye, parents can help their little ones develop strong, healthy feet that will last a lifetime! If you do notice any problems, please take your little one to the Waukesha Foot Specialists. We’ll perform a thorough, gentle evaluation and provide you and your little one with whatever treatment options may be necessary. Schedule by giving us a call at (262) 544-0700.