It is ill-advised to force a child to start walking. When physically and mentally ready, your kid will make the first steps on its own. Comparisons with other children are misleading, since the age for
independent walking ranges from 10 to 18 months.
Some kids may take even longer to start walking on their own.
Babies learn to walk by gripping the ground with their toes and using their heels for stability. This helps develop the muscles needed for walking and is ideally done without socks or shoes.
In the first-steps stage, children should walk barefoot indoors and wear lightweight shoes with soft soles made from natural materials when outside. They need to walk over safe terrains to protect their feet from injuries and on surfaces with natural vegetation and sand to stimulate the receptors and the muscles in the feet.
The small feet are chubby and have fat all over - on the arch, on the midfoot, at the toe area, around the ankle. The fat pads protect the little feet from injuries because toddlers are supposed to go barefoot naturally.
Help! My child has flat feet
The arch is the lower middle part of the foot, which under normal circumstances is curved. Flat feet is a postural deformity in which the arch of the foot collapses, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. The muscles and the tendons that form the arch are extremely important for the proper distribution of the weight while walking. The problem with flat arch (lazy muscles and tendons) is expressed in pain during prolonged standing or walking. As the child starts to walk, this pad begins to melt. Gradually, when children start walking on their toes once one can notice that the arch begins to form.
Flat footedness is not inherited as most parents think. In toddlers, the feet are flat during the first-steps stages. The arch is formed later by the age of 5-7 and may continue to develop in puberty as the body grows.
Training of the feet, especially by foot gymnastics and going barefoot on varying terrain can facilitate the formation of arches during childhood. Flat arches in children usually become proper arches and high arches while the child progresses through adolescence and into adulthood.
Contrary to popular attitudes and practices, shoes for toddlers and children with normally developing arch do not need an orthopedic insole that raises the arch. Such insole can actually do more harm because:
- it is an unnatural projection during the first-steps stages and would be uncomfortable for the child; it can even cause pain in both feet.
- It can lead to "lazy" arch during the stage in which the child starts to walk steadily.