Y1oto 3uyearrs tod­dler

Your Baby & Toddler - - YOUR TODDLER -

she be­gins to walk (around the age of one), so it’s cru­cial bones are al­lowed to de­velop nat­u­rally – with­out any con­stric­tions.

Don’t put shoes on your tod­dler too soon, he ad­vises, and even when she starts to wear shoes, “let your child spend a lit­tle time with­out shoes ev­ery day so she can ex­er­cise the mus­cles in her feet”. Socks or tights made from cot­ton, or a cot­ton and wool mix, are a good op­tion to wear around the house when it’s chilly, but make sure you check the size reg­u­larly, es­pe­cially if you tum­ble dry. “Socks can shrink, and if they’re too tight this can re­strict your tod­dler’s foot growth,” warns Ver­non. “Even if your tod­dler isn’t walk­ing yet, make sure that any soft booties she wears also have lots of room for the toes to move.”

Ver­non stresses that it’s equally im­por­tant for chil­dren’s feet not to be re­stricted by shoes that are ei­ther too big or too small, so al­ways make sure you get the per­fect fit, and check shoe size reg­u­larly be­cause her feet can lit­er­ally grow from month to month.

WRONG STEPS

It’s im­por­tant to keep an eye out for po­ten­tial prob­lems in the early years. But don’t be overly con­cerned if your child’s foot looks flat, high arched or if she walks pi­geon-toed (with ei­ther one or both feet turned in­wards) – most chil­dren out­grow these prob­lems.

“The sole of a nor­mally de­vel­oped foot has an arch, called the me­dial arch, formed by mus­cles and lig­a­ments. For the first two years, your child’s feet will seem to have fallen arches – known as flat foot. This is nor­mal in young chil­dren due to weak mus­cle tone in the foot, a gen­er­ous pad­ding of fat and loose an­kle lig­a­ments that per­mit the foot to lean in­wards,” ex­plains Ver­non. “As your child masters walk­ing, the lig­a­ments and mus­cles will strengthen and the fat pads in the arch won’t be so no­tice­able. By around three to five years of age, your child should have nor­mal arches in both feet.”

If the flat foot is mild, then gen­er­ally no treatment is needed, al­though a yearly check-up at a po­di­a­trist is rec­om­mended. If, how­ever, the flat foot is se­vere or con­tin­ues be­yond the age of three to five years, Ver­non says it could be a symp­tom of an­other, more se­ri­ous con­di­tion and your child will need to see a po­di­a­trist for as­sess­ment.

Walk­ing pi­geon-toed is also usu­ally some­thing your tod­dler will grow out of. “In most cases, this is sim­ply a sign of de­vel­op­ing pos­ture and bal­ance and should re­solve it­self some­where be­tween the ages of three and five years,” Ver­non says. But if the in-toe­ing is se­vere, seems to in­volve the leg and hip as well as the foot, or hasn’t shown signs of im­prove­ment by the time your child is be­tween the ages of 18 months and two years, he rec­om­mends you see a po­di­a­trist for as­sess­ment as “ex­ces­sive in-toe­ing may be caused by a va­ri­ety of un­der­ly­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, such as hip joint prob­lems”.

A less com­mon mis-step for de­vel­op­ing feet is toe­walk­ing, or walk­ing on tippy toes. “Usu­ally this is due to pos­te­rior mus­cles be­low the knee (calf mus­cles) that are tight,” says Ver­non. “Stretch­ing or phys­io­ther­apy can help a lot.” Po­di­a­trists may also treat this con­di­tion with or­thotics (a cus­tom-made in­sert or footbed fit­ted into a shoe).

GROW­ING (AL­MOST) BY THE DAY

Can’t be­lieve it’s time to buy your tod­dler an­other new pair of shoes? Get used to it: “chil­dren’s feet grow in spurts and they re­quire new shoes ev­ery three to four months,” says Ver­non.

That’s half a foot size ev­ery two months!

From 16 to 24 months, that growth slows down to half a foot size ev­ery three months. From 24 to 36 months, ex­pect growth of half a foot size ev­ery four months. And from three years, your pocket will breath a sigh of re­lief as foot growth slows down to half a foot size ev­ery four to six months. YB

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