Did you know that feet spend about two decades growing to their final size? From the day a child is born, until their around 20 years of age, their feet will be gradually, but continually, growing. For this reason, the conditions that can develop - as well as how they can be treated - are often different to a fully grown adult's foot.
We've put together a comprehensive guide on children's feet: from the conditions that can arise in babies and children to a guideline on how quickly a children's foot grows. We've also included some tips on how to pick the right shoe to support your little one's feet properly.
From the day they are born until their around six months old, a baby's feet are mainly made up of cartilage. While some bones begin to form after this point, the last bone doesn't begin to form until their about three years old. By the age of 18, the bones in a foot are usually generally grown, however, the final closure of growth plates occurs around 20 years of age.
Like all bodies - all feet grow at a different pace and to a different size. However, the above should help to give you an approximate idea of the rate that a foot grows from the day of birth, until it's fully formed.
Baby's have rapidly growing feet. You can expect a baby's foot to grow about half a size every two months.
During this stage of life, a child's foot growth slows down slightly, it sits at around a half a size increase every 3-4 months.
During this period of life, a children's foot will grow about half a size every four months.
From age five onwards, children's feet growth slows significantly, it's usually around one size a year.
By age 12, the majority of a child's foot growth is completed. After this age, a boy's foot will grow about 10% more and a girl's foot will grow about 2% more until they reach their adult foot size.
Fun fact: a baby's foot is approximately half their adult length by just 18 months of age!
Children usually begin walking between the ages of 10 months and two years. They will usually begin crawling, and then gradually pulling themselves up to stand and holding onto items for balance, before standing and walking full on their own.
Some babies may demonstrate unusual toes stances: pointing their toes or feet in (pigeon toes / in toeing), or pointing them out (out toeing) while walking. While this often goes away by the time the child is a toddler, it can remain until later in life and be an indication of a foot problem. Another abnormal stance is when a child chooses to walk on their tippy-toes (called toe walking). Both of the walking styles aren't necessarily a big cause for concern, however, it's a good idea to bring them to a paediatric podiatrist for a check-up, so that they can detect any problems if they arise and figure out a suitable treatment plan.
Most adults are familiar with flat feet: it's a condition where there is little to no arch in the bottom of the foot. For adults, it's recommended that this condition is corrected through the use of custom orthotics. But, for kids, flat feet is actually quite common and not always a problem. Approximately 20% of kids have flat feet and there's a good chance they can 'grow out' of it. Of course, to ensure their safety and comfort, it's still a good idea to have a paediatric podiatrist check out flat feet in children.
Growing pains is a muscular pain that's often felt in children around the age of 3 or 4, and then again in the preteen years. The ache or pain is often found in the legs. While growing pain isn't necessarily harmful or negative, it's always a good idea to get any lower limb problems checked out by a childrens podiatrist. They will conduct a biomechanical assessment to make sure that everything is okay.
Ingrown toenails are one of the most common foot problems we see with children's feet. They are often caused by incorrectly fitted shoes that cramp the foot and encourage the incorrect growth of toenails. Our paediatric podiatrists are skilled at treating ingrown toenails and providing tips to prevent them from happening again. Ingrown toenails can be extremely dangerous if they're severe and left untreated, an infected nail can enter the blood stream and cause sepsis. At the Feet People podiatry clinic we offer conservative and perminent options to help your child's health.
An athlete's foot is an infection caused by a fungus. It's often caught when someone with barefoot walks in a wet area, like a school shower, public bathroom or public swimming pool - all places where most children walk and spend time. At The Feet People podiatry clinic, we can treat and eradicate children's foot problems like Athlete's feet.
Warts can be common in children, and are can be spread indirectly from person to person (i.e. if a child with a wart uses a towel and another child uses that same towel). Warts are common on both fingers and toes, and these can be quite painful and hard to get rid of without treatment. The Feet People can use Swift therapy to treat warts on hands and feet.
Heel pain often occurs from sporting activities and is common in pre teen and teenage children. The pain is usually located at the base of the heel, or in the tendon above the heel, at the back of the foot. A common cause of heel pain is Sever's disease or Achilles tendonitis. You can find out more about heel pain and how we treat it here.
The importance of a well-fitted shoe is something that's sometimes neglected. A poor fitting shoe can actually cause lifelong gait and foot problems, severe pain and mobility problems. As we touched on above, children have rapidly growing feet. To ensure that your child's shoe is the correct size at any given time, you can do the following checks: