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Kids Feet - what is normal development?

Repeat after me- Children's feet aren't little adult feet.

They are incredibly different which means we need to think differently about them.

Over the next month we hope to increase your knowledge of kids feet so we can keep your little munchkin active.

Its likely that you are reading this because you have kids and want to learn how you can keep an eye on their feet and make sure things are 'normal'. We'll get to what's normal and what's not normal soon but first lets think about how they develop.

Those cute little toes and balls of softness when you look at a newborns feet - aren't they just to die for? Well the feet are so soft and squishy because they don't have any bones yet. Yes, its just soft cartilage, its easily modulable which means tight socks and shoes can be a problem. Feet are growing rapidly at this age (some people say 3 sizes or 2.5cms in 3-6 months)

As they start crawling, bones are transitioning from cartilage to bone, and the feet are still flexible and delicate. Children's feet will continue to grow approximately 2 sizes a year so its important to keep an eye on the fit of those soft, flexible shoes at this age.

From about 9-18 months onwards kids should be walking - this is when the fun stuff happens. Bones are formed and they are beginning to walk. As they begin to walk outside we need to seriously consider a pair of shoes that will protect their precious little feet. They need to be lightweight and also stable, like Goldilocks and her porridge they shouldn't be too rigid and heavy, they are only young and haven't got much strength. They also shouldn't be too flexible but we want something that is just right. At this age we want to encourage foot strengthening so walking around inside barefoot is okay (in most cases) .

As we get closer to 24 months (and beyond) we'll get to see some big milestones, kids will be running, jumping, hopping and many more cool things. You'll be thinking, jeez I can remember when those little cute balls of flesh were so tiny. Again around this age, its important to have a good pair of shoes that can be worn outside for protection. Its either 'good stable shoes' or barefoot around the house. The baby fat on the bottom of the feet may give the impression of 'flat feet'. This is normal for a child of this age. What isn't normal is pain, or reluctance to walk distances other kids the same age are happy to.

As kids keep growing, and the closer to 5 we get, the more you'll notice the 'baby fat' on the bottom of the feet begins to disappear. As the foot structure continues to strengthen you can consider to introduce that cute pair or ballet flats or sandals for birthday parties or special occasions, but we recommend having that great pair of stable shoes for day care, park play and all other activities. Really flat flexible shoes or sandals are a special treat for special occasions.

From 5 onwards we are into school territory. Bone and foot growth slows to around 1 size per year and as the baby fat disappears and as the foot strengthens an 'arch' should begin to present. Every child is different and the child's foot is still very flexible at this stage and a 'flat foot' when weightbearing maybe normal.

Lots and lots of different factors are at play, from genetic factors to some delay in development of muscle strength. The main thing is to ask for help and contact us if something doesn't quite smell right (not including nappies).

Remember, this is a guideline about how your children's feet will develop up to the age of 5. The 'normal development' of children's feet is often quite varied.

Our job is to consider some key questions when you come to see us. For example: Is your child within the normal developmental guidelines? If not, how could we help? This might be as simple as some exercises, footwear advice, educating you about normal guidelines to ease concerns, or suggesting a referral to someone who we think can help.

By this stage hopefully we've given you a framework of kids development up to the early primary school years. Still you might be wondering, what the heck are 'good stable shoes?'. Well, we will touch on that subject with our next blog and provide you with some tips on fitting shoes and also some reputable brands and where to find them in Hobart.

As usual, we are here to answer your questions, so please get in contact with us if you have any concerns.

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