As children’s feet grow, the cartilage changes into bone. Growth does not take place at a steady pace and during the first year the foot reaches almost half of adult size. The foot is fully developed towards the late teens.
As the feet are soft, it is very important that they be allowed to develop naturally, without being constricted in any way.
It is important not to force children into walking sooner than they are ready, as this can have a long term effect upon the feet and the formation of the bones in the leg.
It is not always necessary to have children wearing shoes in the early stages. Whilst indoors, barefoot is preferable as it allows the foot to develop and strengthen the muscles without being constricted. When children start walking, that is the time to get them good shoes. Ensure that the feet have been measured using the right gauge and that the shoe fits properly. Correct measurement is only a guide as to which shoe will fit best. Regular fit checks are recommended to ensure that the shoes are not constricting the feet.
After 7-8 years the foot has developed considerably and it is not so easy to correct any structural abnormality. In these cases exercises or corrective appliances may be required to aid foot function.
If you have any concerns about the way your child is walking, early examination by a registered Chiropodist should detect any underlying defects. As children grow and their feet continue to develop, check the shoe and sock sizes every few weeks in the early stages to every 3-4 months after the age of 2-3, to ensure that they have not outgrown their shoes.
At the age of five, the foot has its full count of 26 bones, however it has not fully formed. It is only around the age of eight that the arch is properly developed and the foot growth rate will begin to slow down.