When we talk about kids’ milestones, several probably come to mind. First teeth, first words, first steps, first day in kindergarten, etc.
But besides these important stages, rolling, crawling, walking, and talking are also very important milestones for motor function.
In addition to learning about milestones based on a kid’s development, parents are interested in knowing about milestones related to their child’s lower limbs.
You have probably wondered why kids’ toes and heels look like they do? It’s pretty normal to question your kid’s foot development; therefore, we are here to help!
In our blog, we will explain how feet develop into the infancy period and single out the 5 stages of a kid’s foot development in order to provide the proper support needed.
How is Kid Foot Developed?
Many bones do not form at birth, so at the earliest stage of development, a kid’s feet, and other parts as well, are rapidly growing.
At birth, babies have only 22 bones in each foot. However, kids have 26 bones in each foot by the age of five, just like an adult.
Let’s see how this development reflects on their physical ability:
- The leg movements become less jerky and instinctive in the first two months.
- At around the fourth month, your kid may start pressing its legs against a chair or your lap when you hold them.
- In the sixth month of its life, your kid will start to put some weight on the legs and may bounce up and down with some crawling motions.
- At nine months, most babies crawl, sit independently, and stand while holding onto something.
- Around the age of one, your kid will probably be able to stand by furniture and start cruising around.
The bones in your kid’s feet, made of soft cartilage, will gradually convert to the bone as time goes by.
Therefore, it is essential that you provide a proper support to your kid’s feet right from the birth to ensure its healthy development.
Thus, let’s check the 5 signs of the kid’s foot development below.
Remember: Each kid is unique, and many factors account for one’s development; thus, the stages below are only indicators of healthy foot development. For specific concerns regarding your kid’s foot development, consult your child’s health specialist.
1. Kid’s Foot Shape
The shape of your kid’s foot will mostly depend on your and your partner’s foot shape. By the time your kid is 2 years old, you will be able to recognize what foot type your little one has.
Let’s check what those three main shapes of feet are:
- Tapered – The big or the thumb toe is the longest of all toes
- Square – All toes are approximately the same length
- Rounded – Usually the second or third toe is longer than the thumb toe
You can determine what kind of foot shape your kid has just by simply looking at them. The kid’s feet are still chubby, and bones are still growing at this point, but the toes and feet will start forming a distinct shape.
Therefore, to provide a healthy growth of the kid’s feet, the child should only wear soft sole shoes that allow the natural movement of the feet. It is also a good idea to consider buying your baby’s shoes only after they feel comfortable walking by themselves.
2. Kid’s Arch Shape
Foot arches aren’t present when a kid is born, which is totally normal. Because their foot and leg muscles aren’t strong enough to support their arches when they first stand, babies are born with a pad of fat in the arch region, making their feet seem flat-footed.
According to Schuman Podiatry, the arch will not form until about the kid’s second or third year, but by their 7th or 8th birthday, muscles will mature into a proper arch.
However, if you think that your kid has the flat feet, you should probably go and visit a podiatrist. In most cases, kids’ flat feet do not require therapy, and they will develop healthy arches over time.
3. Kid’s Foot Growth
During the time when a kid’s arches become more visible, the foot’s length will also increase.
Here are some general expectations regarding the kid’s foot growth:
- Kids’ feet can grow up to 0.06 inches or 1.5mm in length every month between ages one to three. (This adds up to roughly three-quarters of an inch per year.)
- Between the ages of three to six, kids’ feet grow 0,04 inches or 1mm in length per month. (Around half an inch per year.)
- When it comes to the period of 6 to kids’ 10th birthday, their feet will grow just a little less than 0,04 inches or 1mm in length.
- And when it comes to those teenager years, around 12-17, a girl’s foot usually grows an additional 2% in length, while a boy’s foot grows about an additional 10%.
Of course, keep in mind that all of these phases of kids’ development are somewhat adjustable since each kid is unique and develops at their own pace.
4. Proper Walking
Walking usually starts somewhere between 8-18 months, with the average being 12-15 months. But remember that this can happen even earlier or later in kids’ life which is a totally normal occurrence.
At this stage, almost all kids have flat feet and are slightly turned in. This period also implies a classic broad-based gait with bowed legs and bent knees.
Their postures will change as the kid’s strength improves and their lower limbs develop. Thus a kid’s knee position will also change! This is all a part of their healthy development, which parents will probably notice simply by watching their kids growing up!
Here is a little guide on how their knees will develop through the time according to Arizona Orthopedic physical therapy:
- The kid’s knees will look bowed until around 2 years old.
- Knee straightening will start a little after the second until its fourth year.
- Knock-knees, known as knees turn inward, are knees that appear like they are touching while the ankles remain apart. This usually happens somewhere between the 4th and 7th years.
- The kid’s knees should start straightening around 7 to 12 years.
- Knock-knees will appear again after the 12th year until the 18th birthday.
- Once adulthood is reached the knees will finally straighten out permanently.
The above guide to knee position is important as the knee greatly affects the walking ability and foot placement when walking.
Remember that all of these indicators can vary because each kid has their own development pace.
5. Rapid Growth
A child’s feet grow rapidly in the first year of life, reaching approximately 12 times their adult size. By 12, a kid’s foot has grown to about 90% of its adult size.
Rapid growth or growth spurts usually happen between the 10th and 14th years of life for boys and the 8th and 12th year for girls.
As kids grow, their feet grow as well, but they tend to outgrow their shoes, orthotics, and socks more quickly, making them appear clumsy.
Besides tracking its growth, parents should pay attention to providing the best shoes for their kids. By simply providing your kid with proper shoes and allowing them to go barefoot is more than enough to support their foot development. And when you are ever in doubt that something might be wrong, you should visit your chosen kids’ health provided.
And since we are on the topic of quality footwear, let’s see how important they are.
Proper Shoes for Healthy Foot Development
The proper growth of your kid’s feet requires the use of quality footwear. For supporting healthy foot development, parents should look after well-fitting shoes that allow optimal movement.
Up to the age of 7-8 years, normal wear patterns on footwear tend to appear in the center area of the shoe’s heel. As their stride changes, you’ll see more wear on the outer heel to the inside of the shoe. Checking your child’s shoe, for time to time, for excessive (and asymmetrical) wear might help you spot possible gait issues.
That’s why it is important to look for quality and sustainable shoes in order to support your kid with developing healthy feet.
Kids come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their feet! Healthy feet are essential for a child’s growth, and providing proper support to their feet development is what all parents should aim for!
But do not worry, this is not a task that should feel like a burden! By simply watching your kid grow, tracking their development, and providing them with the right footwear, your job is done!
That’s why this blog had the purpose of providing some basic guidelines for kids’ foot development and helping parents detect and support those indicators!
However, if you think that there is something odd with your kid’s foot, you should probably visit a podiatrist who has experience with pediatric patients. Alternatively, you can learn more about supporting kids’ foot developmental stages in our little blog!