5 Valuable Tips for Kids’ Foot Care

It would be really nice if kids came with an instruction manual. That, and a self-cleaning mode.

Neither of those extras come standard, however, which makes being a parent a constant learning experience. There is a lot to take care of, and your kid’s feet should definitely not be left out of the loop.

Not only can children’s feet experience many of the same painful conditions as adult feet, but they can be more vulnerable to certain problems such as ingrown toenails and plantar warts as well.

But don’t worry; you don’t have to be laser-focused on your children’s feet to take proper care of them. All it really takes is being a bit watchful and making good choices when they’re needed. Here are five tips that can help growing feet from toddler age up to adolescence.

Be on the Lookout for Abnormal Ways of Walking

As your child starts learning to walk, you certainly shouldn’t expect perfection right out the gate. It’s important, though, to take note of any abnormalities. These include:

  • Having arches that are visible when your child is sitting, but flatten out when they stand.
  • Walking with toes pointed inward (in-toeing).
  • Walking with toes pointed outward (out-toeing).
  • Standing on only the toes or forefoot to walk.

The good news is that, in many cases, instances such as these are simply a part of development and your child will grow out of them by age 5 or 6. However, in some cases these behaviors don’t stop.

So if you do see any of these abnormalities, don’t panic – but at the same time, you should still let us know. We might recommend a periodic checkup to ensure your child’s feet are developing as they should. If not, we can begin treatment as early as possible, greatly reducing the risk that your child will have any future problems or complications.

Close up of a woman's foot with a hammertoe

Keep Toddlers Out of Shoes While Indoors

Speaking of your child learning to walk, bare feet (or at least socks only) are the best way for them to develop muscle strength, balance, and coordination. Shoes can get in the way of these goals, so don’t keep them on your child while they’re roaming around indoors.

Outdoors, of course, is another story. Keep shoes on then to protect against anything that might cause damage out there.

Keep Up with Shoe Sizes

More shoe tips? That’s right!

Once your child starts wearing shoes more often, you’ll quickly realize they don’t tend to last long before they become too small for growing feet! 

While your mileage may vary depending on how fast your child grows, you can expect on average to need a new size of shoes several times per year between the ages of 1-4 and about every 6 months between the ages of 4-6. 

And right when starting out, from the first year to about 2 ½ years old, you might need larger shoes every 2-3 months.

Although it’s not very convenient to have such a timetable for shoes, it remains important. Shoes that are too small can compress the toes, leading to an increased chance of ingrown toenails in addition to general discomfort. And sorry, but we do not recommend buying above your child’s shoe size and having them grow into the footwear, either. Loose shoes can be just as disruptive and harmful as having them too tight! 

What about hand-me-down shoes, though? We also advise caution against using them. The more they have been worn, the more they have come to fit the shape of the previous foot wearing them, making them less likely to accommodate your child.

Trim Toenails the Proper Way

When trimming your child’s toenails, you want to do so in a way that avoids potential injury, as well as further reducing the chances of ingrown toenails.

To do so, trim straight across without significantly rounding the corners. The more you cut into the corners, the more the nail must grow back, increasing the odds of becoming ingrown as it does so.

Also, do not clip fully into the white part at the end of each toenail. Leave some of that remaining. Cutting too deep risks damaging the nail bed, creating pain. 

Provide Protection for Pooltime and Shower Rooms

Younger feet are more prone to infections from fungi and viruses, mainly because their immune systems may not be quite ready to fight them off.

Since these organisms enjoy environments that are warm, damp, and dim, places such as locker rooms and other high-traffic barefoot areas can increase the risk of contracting them. 

You can help protect your child against infections such as athlete’s foot and plantar warts by having them use water shoes or shower shoes when needed. Flip-flops are better than nothing, but don’t provide as much all-encompassing coverage.

(Such footwear also isn’t a bad idea for you to use in these environments, either.)

Don’t Wait for Kids’ Foot and Ankle Care!

Just because your child’s feet might have less wear and tear on them than yours doesn’t mean they shouldn’t receive care when they need it! The sooner they receive attention for painful problems and other conditions, the less likely those problems will cause any concerns in the future.

Our Palm Desert office is open for your kids and your whole family. Call us at (760) 568-0108 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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