A baby’s feet are often neglected. Read on to know more about the importance of foot care in babies.
By Arun Sharma
Have you ever paid attention to your baby’s foot health? Most probably not! In fact, most parents give scant attention to their baby’s feet. One of the reasons may be a lack of awareness of the numerous ailments that can affect a baby’s feet. Let’s look at this issue in some detail.
An infant’s feet are different from those of adults in at least two ways. First, their shape is different; an infant’s feet are wider towards the forefoot and narrow at the heels. Secondly, an infant’s feet do not have bones, but just soft cartilage. As he ages, the cartilage hardens to form bones.
Although your newborn can’t walk, foot care is still vital for proper development of her feet. Like most parents, in your urge to dress up your baby, you tend to put on little cute shoes or colourful socks. But ill-fitting socks and shoes can obstruct the growth of her feet. Make sure that you make her wear socks that aren’t too tight. Her shoes should be soft and flexible to allow her feet to grow uninhibited. Also, ensure that bedclothes are not tightly tucked in, as even these may affect her feet. When it comes to cutting her nails, trim them straight across, taking care not to cut it too short. Don’t cut along the sides, as this may cause in-growing of nails or infections. Also, don’t nibble your infant’s nails, as the bacteria from your mouth may cause an infection.
As your child grows and becomes stronger, by around 15 months, he will take his first step. Like any parent, you will be excited to see him take his first step. But don’t rush to the shoe store, for it isn’t time yet to purchase shoes for your child. His feet are broad and flat and you must allow him to walk barefoot to strengthen the muscles in his feet. But make sure that the floor is free of things that may injure his feet. The floor should also be clean to prevent any infection.
Once he is ready to step out of the house and walk outside, you should get footwear to protect his feet from getting injured. Purchase socks that fit well, as too tight or too loose socks can cause problems. When it comes to shoes, buy one made of materials that will allow your child’s feet to breathe. This is necessary as his feet will perspire a lot at this age. Leather or canvas shoes are a good option and they will also fit his feet better. Also, choose light weight shoes, since your child will walk a lot like other children his age.
Children have flexible feet that are not too sensitive, so they don’t complain of feeling areas of pressure or friction. So, check your child’s feet regularly for signs of pressure or friction. Also, get your child’s feet size checked every 6–8 weeks, as children’s feet grow in spurts.
Initially, when your child starts walking, he will walk flat-footed and his gait may appear odd to you. This is normal during the early stages to give him stability. But if the flat-footedness persists or for any other problem related to gait, consult the chiropodist for advice.
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