It is unwise to force a child to walk. When physically and emotionally
ready, the child will walk. Comparisons with other children are
misleading, since the age for independent walking ranges from
10 to 18 months.
the child first begins to walk, shoes are not necessary indoors.
Allowing the youngster to go barefoot or to wear just socks helps
the foot to grow normally and to develop its musculature and strength,
as well as the grasping action of toes. Of course, when walking
outside or on rough surfaces, babies' feet should be protected
in lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials.
As a child's feet continue to develop, it may be necessary to
change shoe and sock size every few months to allow room for the
feet to grow. Although foot problems result mainly from injury,
deformity, illness, or hereditary factors, improper footwear can
aggravate preexisting conditions. Shoes or other footwear should
never be handed down. The feet of young children are often unstable
because of muscle problems which make walking difficult or uncomfortable.
Millions of American children participate in team and individual
sports, many of them outside the school system, where advice on
conditioning and equipment is not always available. Parents should
be concerned about children's involvement in sports that require
a substantial amount of running and turning, or involve contact.
Protective taping of the ankles is often necessary to prevent
sprains or fractures. Parents should consider discussing these
matters with their family podiatrist if they have children participating
in active sports. Sports-related foot and ankle injuries are on
the rise as more children actively participate in sports.
Problems noticed at birth will not disappear by themselves. You
should not wait until the child begins walking to take care of
a problem you've noticed earlier. Remember that lack of complaint
by a youngster is not a reliable sign. The bones of growing feet
are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without
the child being aware of it.
patterns should be carefully observed. Does the child toe in or
out, have knock knees, or other gait (walking) abnormalities?
These problems can be corrected if they are detected early. Going
barefoot is a healthy activity for children under the right conditions.
However, walking barefoot on dirty pavements exposes children's
feet to the dangers of infection through accidental cuts and to
severe contusions, sprains or fractures. Another potential problem
is plantar warts, a condition caused by a virus which invades
the sole of the foot through cuts and breaks in the skin. They
require protracted treatment and can keep children from school
and other activities.
careful about applying home remedies to children's feet, as many
can cause irritation and damage to the feet.