If you are a parent, you may fall into either of these two categories:
1. You are mentally preparing yourself for an empty house, and just thinking about having your kid at school all day makes you want to turn back the hands of time and start summer all over again.
2. You are mentally preparing yourself for an empty house, and been looking forward to the end of the summer when your kid will be back in school all day again. (Yes, you love your child, but sometimes there’s nothing more relaxing than the quiet mornings of a fall weekday. We get it.)
Whether you feel more like Parent #1 or Parent #2, one thing will always hold true: Taking care of your child’s foot health is important!
Why? Well, simply put, feet will go through most of their developmental stages during childhood. You may have noticed this already – with all the shoes your child seems to grow out of so quickly, your budget may be starting to feel the effects!
And with all the growing and stretching your little one’s feet will be doing throughout this wonderous time in their lives, there is plenty of room for things to go wrong, too. What’s more, when left untreated, foot problems in childhood can easily lead to chronic pain in adulthood. Since we know you want the best for your child, paying attention to their foot health should be near the top of your to-do list.
Not sure what taking care of your child’s feet entails?
No worries! The Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates can help – and we will start by giving you some tips on how to find the perfect shoes for your child so this upcoming school year is filled with learning experiences – and free from foot problems.
Find the Perfect Shoes
Here’s a fun fact you probably already know: Kids often fail to communicate when something is amiss.
As such, they may not always tell you if their shoes are too tight, too big, or causing pain. That’s why you should routinely check how your child’s footwear is fitting on their feet.
Ill-fitting shoes can contribute to problems with foot pain, posture, walking gait, or even foot deformities throughout adolescence and into adulthood. So test the fit of your child’s footwear a couple times per month.
Make sure the toe box allows about half an inch of wiggle room between the front of the shoe and the end of the longest toe, that the insoles provide enough arch support and heel cushioning, and that the shoe fits comfortably on your child’s feet (no rubbing, no pressure points).
Now, if you notice any signs of bowing or bulging out along the sides of the shoes, that the soles have become worn out, or your child complains of foot pain, it may be time to buy new kicks. Now what?
Here are some simple tips to follow:
- Never buy pre-owned shoes or use hand-me-downs.
- Look for shoe sizes that leave about a thumb’s width of wiggle room between the front of the shoe and the longest toe.
- Make sure you are able to slide your index finger down to the second knuckle between the heel and the back of the shoe.
- Look for shoes that provide enough arch support and heel cushioning.
- Buy footwear that is appropriate for the specific activities they will be engaging in – ask a shoe store employee to help you find the best fit for your little one’s sports of choice.
- Don’t buy shoes that are too big thinking your child “will just grow into them anyway” – shoes that are too big are just as bad as shoes that are too small.
Aside from the Kicks
Of course, knowing how to pick the perfect shoes for your child may be a huge battle won, but “the pediatric foot health war” is far from over. There are also other things to consider, like practicing good hygiene and nail trimming habits, as well as being able to recognize early signs of foot conditions before they become a serious problem.
So let’s break this down a bit more:
- Keep your child’s feet clean. Teach your child to wash their feet daily, paying special attention to those areas between the toes. Make sure they know to thoroughly dry between the toes, too – this will help avoid any potential skin or nail fungal infection.
- Trim your child’s toenails the right way. You should also advise your child on how to properly trim their toenails (whenever you feel they are old enough to safely do so themselves, of course). Make sure they know to trim nails even with the edge of the toe (not too short, not too long) and to never round out the corners – this will help avoid ingrown toenails from developing.
- Recognize early signs of foot problems. While some pediatric foot conditions are no cause for concern as they often resolve themselves without the need for medical intervention (e.g., flat feet), it’s important to have your child’s feet and ankles evaluated for any potentially serious problems.
If you notice any concerning symptoms in your child’s feet, ankles or legs, or if your child shows any signs of pain or unusual discomfort, make sure to come visit the Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates right away. We will be able to determine if your little one is suffering from any underlying condition that needs to be addressed and how to best do that!
Have any questions? Looking for compassionate foot care for your child? Come visit our office! All you have to do is give us a call at (360) 753-4861 to make an appointment at any of our convenient locations. You can also fill out our handy online contact form to have one of our staff members reach out to you.