As a parent of a baby or toddler, paying attention to your child’s foot development and Protecting Your Baby’s Feet is one of the many top priorities you have to have and keep track of. The usual default is putting some socks on your baby’s feet. As socks protect from the cold and other extremities like hard surfaces or dirt, many parents assume that all it takes to protect their baby’s feet in the house is a pair of warm socks that ward off any potential cold.
However, contrary to popular belief, podiatrists warn that babies and toddlers shouldn’t spend a lot of time in socks. Their tiny feet are soft, pliable and still developing, so it’s essential that infants and toddlers spend a lot of time completely barefoot so their foot muscles are exercised and their feet develop as naturally as possible. Keeping the house at a moderate, comfortable temperature is the best way to ensure their bare feet stay warm. If socks must be worn, both cotton and wool mix socks are good options for foot warmth.
Just make extra sure that your baby’s socks aren’t too tight, which could lead to a foot condition called sock-line hyperpigmentation. Sometimes tumble drying socks can make them shrink, so be sure to check the socks’ tightness even after continuous wear to avoid sock-line hyperpigmentation and also to make sure they’re not halting normal foot development.
When it comes to keeping your baby’s foot warm outdoors, even extra care has to be taken. Taking your child into the blistering cold can be quite challenging, all the way from head to toe. But when it comes to keeping a baby or toddler’s feet protected from chilly weather, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Socks are definitely needed in cold temperatures, with warm, organic materials like wool being the optimum choice.
Make sure the socks aren’t too tight, which can lead to sock-line hyperpigmentation and affect a small child’s regular foot development. Meanwhile, it can help to keep an extra pair of socks in your bag so you can easily add an extra layer or swap out if your child’s socks become wet from the snow.
During your baby’s first year you should avoid putting them in shoes a much as possible except when you are spending a lot of time in cold weather outdoors. There are baby boots and other types of fall and winter footwear can be worn, as long as you ensure that the shoes are the right size and offer plenty of wiggle room for the child’s toes. Kids feet grow quickly, so most experts advise you check baby and toddler’s foot size every 4 to 6 weeks.
Additionally, you should wear your child waterproof shoes like rain boots if they will be walking in wet environments to ensure their feet don’t become saturated, which can lead to a sudden chill, rubbing and blisters, or even frostbite. Make sure the soles are non-slip to help your child avoid falls, trips and spills on wet, slippery ground. If your toddler complains about cold feet, try to encourage him or her to stomp, wiggle and kick their feet to help increase blood circulation and warmth.
How to Take Care of Newborn Feet
Your newborn baby’s new feet may be blue, wrinkled, and peeling like much of the rest of his body after nine months in a cocoon of protective fluid. But be assured, however, that his feet will brighten up as soon as it gets warm. Baby’s feet normally appear flat because children are born with a pad of fat in the arch area. Also, their foot and leg muscles aren’t developed enough to support their arches when they first begin to stand. In fact, the arch doesn’t usually become apparent until about age two or two and a half.
At the time of delivery, your ob-gyn, and then later your pediatrician, will look for obvious abnormalities of your baby’s feet and legs. She will check his hips to make sure they are not dislocated, tickle the bottom of his foot to check for the appropriate neurological response (the toes should fan out), and will actually count to make sure there are ten toes. Occasionally, an infant is born with 11 or 12 toes, this condition is called polydactyly.
This condition simply requires surgical removal of the additional toe to avoid problems with wearing shoes and walking, as well as for cosmetic reasons. The procedure is usually done before your child begins to walk, but can be performed at almost any time from infancy. Once the toe is removed, your child’s foot will develop normally, and he will be able to run around, jump, and play So if this happens, you need not worry.
Another condition that could happen to a newborn’s feets is webbed toes. Webbed toes are much more common than multiple toes but often go unnoticed by parents because webbing can occur to varying degrees. Webbed toes result because the skin failed to separate between two toes during fetal development, making the area look webbed, similar to a duck’s foot. The toes can be surgically separated for cosmetic appearances or if the webbing interferes with the normal toe movement essential for walking.
Genetics, uterine positioning, and prolonged breech positioning can contribute to various congenital foot deformities. Clubfoot, a common disorder, leaves the foot slightly smaller than a normal foot, with the toes pointing toward one another and down. The APMA says clubfoot occurs in 1 of every 1,000 live births and may be present in both feet. If you’ve already had a child with clubfoot, there’s a 10 percent chance that a subsequent child will be born with it, too.
Foot x-rays confirm that a child has the condition, and additional x-rays of the limbs and spine are typically taken to rule out any other associated bone problems. Treatment can begin at birth — the earlier the better — while the foot and legs are still pliable. The skeleton of an infant is still very flexible as it hasn’t yet solidified into the hard bones of older children and adults.
Because of this flexibility, the abnormal position of the foot can be corrected with plaster casts. It takes several weeks to months, and the casts are typically changed every one to two weeks. Your baby should quickly catch up on achieving motor skills, such as rolling or crawling, once the casts are removed.
These conditions can happen to a newborn’s foot but they are very unlikely so don’t let the knowledge of them scare you. When your baby finally starts to walk remember to do your research on the best shoes to get them and don’t forget to enjoy the process.