Children seem to move faster than their little feet can take them. Even though there are tremendous benefits to being active, maintaining healthy feet is also essential to your child’s development and overall well-being.
The Early Years
According to the Ontario Society of Chiropodists, it takes approximately 16 years for a child’s foot to be fully developed. During the early years, children typically enjoy being active with an abundance of energy on their feet. Long before a child is walking, there are some things to keep in mind to protect their little feet.
Be careful of tight infant clothing or ‘onesies’ that may restrict their feet and toes from moving freely. Babies have very flexible feet and may even appear to have flat feet, but this is normal up to age 4. Children actually don’t need to wear shoes until they can walk by themselves. When learning to stand and walk, it is important for the muscles in the feet to strengthen naturally without any constrictions.
Choosing Kid Friendly Footwear
Resist the urge to buy the cheapest shoes possible for your child’s rapidly growing feet. Although the price does not necessarily reflect quality, it is still essential to choose your child’s shoes wisely. When shoe shopping, here are a few important TIPS to keep in mind:
Measure children’s feet periodically
Your children’s shoe and sock size will change every couple of months, so measure their feet before purchasing any shoes to avoid potential pain.
Avoid second-hand shoes
Previously worn shoes might seem to fit well, but it may not be suitable for your child in the months ahead. You might be saving money initially, but when your child experiences challenges with their feet you will have to spend more money for another pair of pain-free shoes.
Examine the shoe’s heel, toe and middle
Press on both sides of the heel to make sure it doesn’t collapse. The toe box should be flexible enough to bend with your child’s toes. The shoe should also be rigid enough that you can’t twist it in the middle.
Go shoe shopping with your child
The make and model of shoes will vary in size, so be sure you have your children with you when shopping. This will also give you an opportunity to show your children how to look for appropriate shoes and promote foot health.
Common Foot Conditions in Children
Since children naturally have thinner skin, they are more susceptible to warts. Kids will get little cuts and scrapes from playing which subsequently exposes them to the wart virus. Children can inherit ingrown toenails or develop it from improper fitting shoes or poor nail trimming. Fungus is also common in kids since their feet are sweaty and moist which is a perfect breeding ground for Athlete’s Foot. Some of these foot conditions are particularly evident in children who are actively engaged in sports. Regardless of your child’s level of activity, it is wise to regularly consult with a registered chiropodist or podiatrist to maintain healthy foot habits.
Orthotics for Kids
Supporting children’s feet with orthotics usually takes place after age 5, unless there is a major issue. Orthotics are prescribed for children with extremely flat feet, tripping issues, abnormal gait and foot pain. Kids’ orthotics are designed with a deep heel cup to control their feet while providing ample control and support.
Often children are not able to adequately articulate their foot pain and may complain they are too tired to participate in an activity. Having your child’s feet assessed annually should be a part of their regular wellness check up. If there are rapid changes in their feet (i.e., more than 2 shoe sizes per year), their orthotics will not fit properly. Registered chiropodists or podiatrists have the expertise to examine your child’s feet and provide customized solutions throughout their development.
It’s never too late to have your child’s feet assessed. Just like their annual visit to the optometrist or dentist, making an appointment with a chiropodist or podiatrist should not be neglected.
HealthCasa partners exclusively with registered chiropodists or podiatrists for personalized treatments in the safety and comfort of your home. Most extended health insurance programs cover chiropody, podiatry and orthotics services so you can take advantage of your benefits to help your children maintain optimal health.
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