Children’s Feet Take 18 Years to Grow!

The feet of a newborn child are usually perfectly formed and lovely to look at.  Unfortunately many parents easily forget that those feet need nurturing and protecting as they grow to maturity.

It’s going to take up to 18 years for that child’s foot to fully develop. Nevertheless, the newborn foot resembles the adult foot in every respect; it has normal contours and arches and fat padding, but when the foot bears weight it will look abnormally flat – this is one reason why all babies should be allowed to develop at their own pace and parents must resist the desire to get them up on their feet before they are ready.

A newborn foot is usually triangular in shape, broadest at the toes with a narrow heel. The shape and position is also very important, giving clues to any underlying neuromuscular or skeletal pathology. Podiatrists involved in managing children’s feet look for altered shape, restricted movements, stiffness and deviations in different parts of the feet.

For the first 6 months of life the feet are mostly cartilage, so they can be easily deformed by an ill-fitting sock or ‘babygro’ or sleepsuit. The feet and lower limbs of a baby are meant to move, stretch, kick and wriggle as part of normal growth. Freedom of movement is the keyword at this time, which means that any tight fitting devices, pram and cot blankets must be avoided.

Obviously, throughout the entire process of development and growth, correctly fitted footwear is essential for the child, as is the diagnosis and management of any disorder or anomaly, so if you are concerned about your child’s foot health, have their feet checked by a podiatrist.

You can read more about children’s feet here..


Andrew has taught at the University as well as providing podiatry services in South Africa since 1977. Twice chair of the Podiatry Association of South Africa and a commentator on care of your feet on both radio and television he now works in private practice in Cape Town and Hout Bay.

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Shireen - October 31, 2008 Reply

Hi, my 7 yr old daughters big toes are extremely skew. I would really appreciate some advice, what do i do? Where do i start? I can see that this will bother as she grows older. She tends to curl her toes even in shoes, she’s not even aware she does it. She has also started becoming embarrassed by it and now i find her pulling her toes, trying to make it straight.

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