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Your Child's Feet

Most of us are born with symptom-free feet. But at one time or another, as we age, three quarters of us will be affected by a foot ailment. Many of these problems can be avoided with proper foot care as a child. Periodic consultations with your podiatric physician can help to anticipate and resolve your child’s foot problems and generally guide the child to a lifetime of foot comfort and health. Neglecting foot health invites problems in other parts of the body, such as the legs and back. There can also be undesirable personality effects. The youngster with troubling feet walks awkwardly and usually has poor general posture. As a result the growing child may become shy, introverted, and avoid athletics and social functions. During a baby’s first year, their feet will reach almost half of the adult size. Unlike adult feet, however, a baby’s feet are soft and pliable and can change shape quite easily. For this reason it’s important to make sure your baby’s feet have room to grow. Cover you baby’s feet loosely and avid restricting leg movements so baby can kick, stretch and flex. Tight covers restrict movement and can retard normal development. Make sure your baby’s booties and socks aren’t too tight. Provide an opportunity for exercising the feet. Lying uncovered enables the baby to kick and perform other related motions which prepare the feet for weight-bearing. Change the baby’s position often. Lying too long in one spot, especially on the stomach, can put excessive strain on the feet and legs. When it’s time to start walking, your baby will let you know. It is unwise to force a child to walk. Comparisons with other children are misleading, as the age for independent walking ranges from 10 to 18 months. When the child first begins to walk, shoes are not necessary. Allowing the youngsters to go barefoot indoors or to wear just socks helps the foot to grow normally and to develop its musculature and strength, as well as the grasping action of toes. Starting with the first shoe, proper fit is essential. Footwear should never be handed down and your child should never wear someone else’s shoes. Shoes should be 14 to 12 inch longer than the longest toe of the longer foot. Shop at a responsible store that has a professional-fitter on staff. As the child grows it may be necessary to change shoe and sock sizes every three to four months. Shoes should always be worn when outdoors. High-top lace-up shoes are helpful for toddlers so their narrow heel will not pull out of the shoe. Shoes should have flexible soles, a slight heel to prevent falling backward, and a firm heel counter. A strong footing will insure a lifetime of foot comfort and health.

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