A Guide to Your Child’s Foot Health

Lubna Al-Raisi / Podiatrist
11 November, 2018

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Children’s feet are different from adult’s feet in a way that they grow rapidly. The foot is mostly cartilaginous at six month of age and only fully form when children become around three years old.  As children start walking, attention starts to be given to their footwear as means of support and protection. As such, choosing the ideal shoes for your child, as a parent, can become challenging with this huge number of brands and styles of shoes which exist in the market that may influence your choice.


It is important to understand that children will move through developmental stages as they grow and each child will exhibit a unique way in each stage. As your child begins walking, shoes selection should only be for protection from the environment. Children could also walk barefoot to allow them strengthen their foot muscles. It is expected that children may also exhibit variations in the way they walk for example; there are children who will walk with their feet pointed inwards (in-toeing) or pointed outwards (out-toeing). Most children will grow out of these walking patterns as they grow.  


When your child becomes active and participates in different sports such as: football, basketball, tennis, handball, etc. the need for a good footwear selection becomes significantly important. As selecting good footwear for your child can lead to prevention of many foot and ankle injuries and it will contribute in providing a support for their feet as they grow.  There are number of injuries that are sport-related and are common among children such as; arch pain, heel pain, in-growing nails, knee pain, stress fractures etc. Such injuries can be prevented through the right selection of footwear and strengthening foot and ankle muscles. Below are some tips on how to select the ideal footwear for your child:


  • Shoe fit: as simple as it may sound, a lot of children are presented to our clinics with the wrong shoe fit!

Always make sure the shoes follow the natural shape of the foot especially around toes. Allow 1 cm room between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Toes need to move freely and must not be squashed from the top and the sides.


  • Firm heel counter: the back side of the heel should be firm to control excessive motion of the foot.


  • Stiffness of the sole: unlike adult shoes, children shoes in general are lighter and less stiff to allow the foot to grow freely.


  • Laces/buckles: ensure the shoe has adjustment methods to help secure the foot.


  • Style of the shoe: always try to avoid flat ballerina or flip flops especially if your child is very active.



Finally, parents should be aware of any atypical signs that their child may exhibit and always listen to their complaints. If you observe the following signs in your child, a podiatrist check-up is therefore highly recommended:


- Uneven shoe wear

-Skin blisters, rashes or lumps

-Recurrent foot or leg pain

-Constant tripping and falling over

-Your child does not look symmetrical




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