Should Your Young Children Walk Barefoot?

While children’s feet may appear to be miniature versions of adult feet, they’re not. They vary in shape and will transform as they grow. In today’s post, Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich, and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen of greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center share information regarding how walking barefoot affects your child’s feet.

During a child’s first year of life, plentiful fat pads on the soles of their feet keep them soft and flexible. The arch develops when the child begins walking, and their feet will begin to expand in width and length. It’s good for parents to have their child walk barefoot to help strengthen the whole foot.

The arch and toes get stronger as the child’s toes grip the floor, and the child’s foot growth can be limited when they wear tight shoes. When children start wearing their first pair of shoes, their feet need adequate stability and cushioning.

Children can find it easier to wear shoes when they are easy to close and prevent their feet from slipping. Studies have shown four-month average life of a pair of children’s shoes. It’s recommended you replace these shoes within this timeframe.

It’s also important for parents to buy new shoes at the right time to protect their feet against foot issues. If you need more information about what kind of shoes are right for your child, consult with your podiatrist, who can guide you.

Tips for Keeping Your Children’s Feet Healthy

  • Watch for signs of out-toeing or in-toeing
  • Lightly cover your baby’s feet so they can move freely and develop normally
  • Allow your toddler to go shoeless at times, as shoes can be constrictive for a young child’s foot
  • Make sure their shoes fit properly
  • Wash any scrapes and cuts with soap and water and cover them with a bandage to promote healing
  • Watch for signs of clubfoot, which affects your child’s ankle and foot, twisting the toes and heels inward
  • Keep your child’s feet dry and clean
  • Cut toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.

A child’s foot health is crucial to their overall well-being. If you have any questions regarding foot health or experiencing any issues, contact the greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center offices for diagnosis and treatment. Click here to locate the office nearest you and schedule an appointment today.

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