As you look at your child’s feet you may wonder if she has flat feet because you cannot see a long arch.
In month 13 of the Growing Child booklets we look at your Baby’s Feet! Such an important part of a baby’s body. They can learn so much through the sense of touch in their tiny little feet. They love to have their feet touched and lightly tickled. This is why we sing the song ‘This little piggy’. You will always get a giggle when you do this and that word ‘Again’ after you do it.
When a baby first stands and takes their first step you may think their little feet and ankles don’t look strong enough. But their feet are deceiving, they’re stronger and less flat footed than you think. Their little bones are still quite soft, and the foot and ankle muscles are not yet strong enough to support their arch as they stand. However, your baby has some natural arch in the form of fat pads which support their arches when they stand.
In societies such as ours where shoes are worn, the fat pad under the arch gradually disappears when it is no longer needed, and the fully developed arch can be seen by about the age of 5.
Most babies start walking about 12 months but they all differ. At first your child may appear to be bowlegged or knock-kneed as they take their first steps. This is perfectly normal. Their little legs which are in the process of developing and strengthening, may still be somewhat curved.
Once your child begins to walk you will need to get them their first pair of ‘Real Shoes’. This is such a special time in a child’s life! I always cherished my children’s first pair of shoes as I still have my own. When I was younger I worked in Clarks Shoe Shop and fitted children’s first shoes on a daily basis. I loved seeing the joy in the parents faces when the children got their first shoes, they brought grandparents, siblings and some brought a video camera.
The beaming look on the babies face when they took their first step with their new shoes was such a proud and wonderful moment for the parents to witness. Their little pride and joy. The babies always took a good look at their new shoes, some pulled the straps, curl their toes, others looked at them as if they were something from outer space. They took their first step as if they were walking with bricks on their feet!!
Because children’s feet grow so quickly at this age, it is recommended that the feet are measured at least every 2 – 3 months to ensure they are wearing the right size. I know its tempting to recycle for the 2nd child or 3rd of 4th and give them a pair of hand me downs. It’s always good to get your child’s feet measured and make sure they’re wearing comfortable shoes. And then of course there’s the paying for the first pair of shoes!”‘30 something pound – I wouldn’t pay that for myself” you’ll hear some parents say on the way out the door!
Anyways at the end of the day after getting their first shoes, always check your child’s foot for red marks or soreness to ensure they were fitted correctly. Your baby should also have plenty of time in a clean environment walking with no shoes. And don’t get scared or upset if your child falls frequently, this may happen until they get used to the shoes.
Your child needs freedom to explore. Give them space but be there when they fall to give them that much needed hug or cuddle.