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A parent’s guide to babies’ healthy foot development



As a parent, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure your little ones grow up happy and healthy. As part of this, it’s vital that you monitor the development of their feet — especially when they’re particularly young and learning to walk.

I’ve put together this guide to help you understand how your kids’ feet should grow and change in the first few years of their life. If you’re clued up on the stages they’ll go through, you’ll be able to spot and address any issues there may be along the way. Read on to find out more.

The first few months

For the first few months of their life, your baby won’t have any fully-formed bones in their feet. Until they’re about 18, the soft bones in their feet will gradually harden. In the first few months after they’re born, these soft bones will be protected by the ‘puppy fat’ that makes their little feet so cute.

Your little one’s feet will still be flat at this point — their arches won’t yet have formed. Their feet will also be able to bend slightly out of shape without causing them any pain, which means it’s vital any shoes that you buy them are soft and flexible with plenty of space to grow. However, Entire Podiatry recommends that you leave them to go barefoot as much as possible. This will help them to learn how to use their feet through feeling.

6–9 months: The early stages of learning to walk

While children learn to walk at different paces, it’s likely that your little one will first try to stand up when they’re between six and nine months old. This is when they’ll start to lose some of that ‘puppy fat’, and the shape of their feet will begin to form properly.

At this stage, it’s vital that you allow your child to explore their range of motion in bare feet as much as possible, so their muscles and bones can get strong enough to accommodate their body weight. You should encourage your baby to stand as much as possible during this time — try holding their favourite toy just out of reach so they’ll stand to grab it. Just be sure to praise them whenever they do.

9–18 months: Walking

Your little one is likely to take their first steps between nine and 18 months into their development. 25 bones will be developing in both of their feet during this stage, which makes it a crucial time in their progression. To help these bones form properly, you need to buy them the right shoes. I’d recommend that you opt for a pair that is made with soft and flexible uppers, and that gives your child’s feet plenty of room to grow (although, they shouldn’t be too loose). It is also essential that you have your child’s shoes properly fitted to ensure that both length and width fittings are correct. During this stage of your child’s foot development, having shoes with flexible, non-rigid soles is also incredibly important as they allow feet to move naturally without hindrance. As every child is unique we advise against passing shoes down from sibling to sibling as shoes that do not match your child’s individual fitting needs can cause damage to their feet.

When your little one does start to take their first steps, you need to keep a close eye on their development. Although it’s normal for them to walk slightly bow-legged or with their feet turned out to begin with, these problems should correct themselves quite quickly. The NHS’s guide to leg and foot problems in children outlines some problems that you should look out for when your child is starting to walk.

The development of children’s feet is often overlooked, but it’s vital that parents keep an eye on their little ones’ progress. By allowing them to explore in bare feet and buying them the right shoes, you can help to make sure they’re happy and healthy.




About the author

Julie Watson is a Children's Buyer at the shoe retailer Charles Clinkard. Here, she shares her expertise on how your baby's feet will develop as they grow. www.charlesclinkard.co.uk

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