This Little Piggy: First Steps to Foot Care in Children
Posted by Pamela S on Friday, January 27th, 2012
Ten fingers and ten toes. They place your newborn in your arms, you kiss that sweet face, and then you count those lovely digits. When you take your baby home, you can’t get enough of those chubby little feet. You nibble on those toes, kiss and tickle, dress them in cute little booties, make impressions in clay, and capture them on film.
What if your baby is different? Many children are born with congenital foot deformities. Don’t panic, foot deformities, such as those mentioned below, are common. There are a number of treatment options available to avoid surgery.
Club feet (Talipes Equino Varus)
A baby can be born with one or both feet, twisted abnormally. Club feet are turned inward and point downward. This deformity is fairly common, occuring in 1 of every 1000 births. You may already be aware of your baby’s condition before it is born, because club feet are visible on an ultrasound.
Most club feet can be treated by podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons and physiotherapists, using manipulation, braces, splints or other devices. This treatment is knowns as the Ponseti Method. Doctors are now using Botox in the treatment of club feet, to help relax the muscles in the Achilles tendon.
On occasion, surgery may be needed to further correct club feet, and casts must be worn afterward. Doctors have considerable success treating club feet, and you can look forward to chasing your little one around the yard.
This is another foot deformity that is not a major cause for concern. You’ve heard people say someone is pigeon-toed, because their feet point inward. That is caused by metatarsus varus, or metatarsus adductus. It can also be treated with casts, splints, or shoes.
Flat feet and extra toes
Babies can be born with flat feet, extra toes, or overlapping toes. All of these are treatable. Do you have orthotics in your shoes? I bet you didn’t know that orthotics can be used to treat childhood foot or gait problems.
They may be super cute, but try to keep your baby out of shoes until they are needed for protection. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies take that first step the way they were born: barefoot. Shoes are needed for protection from the elements, and objects that could injure feet. Baby shoes are no longer made of rigid leather. Flexible, well fitting shoes are key to good foot health for baby’s first steps. If there is no danger, let your child run barefoot, at all ages. You know how good that feels.
Little girls like to play dress up, and parade around in Mommy’s high heels. It will be a challenge to dissuade your preteen or teenage daughter from wearing high heels. Steer her in the direction of shorter, fashionable heels. Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, or the mothers of beauty pageant contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras allow their children to wear heels. That is just wrong, you know it is.
The human foot contains 26 bones, 2 sesamoid bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. Care for your child’s feet from day one. One day, they might become an Olympic runner, or a ballerina, or just give you the joy of watching them run and play in the yard.
If you have any concerns about your child’s feet, or gait, contact a podiatrist. The Doctors at The Center For Podiatric Care And Sports Medicine understand how important your child’s health is to you. It starts from the ground up.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.