It is ill-advised to force a child to walk. When physically and mentally ready, the child will walk. Comparisons with other children are misleading, since the age for
independent walking ranges from 10 to 18 months.
Some children may take 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 easier to do 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 outside. They need to walk on a safe terrain to keep their feet from injuries, and where there is natural vegetation and sand to stimulate the receptors and the muscles in the feet.
The small feet are chubby, they have a fat all over the foot - on the arch, on the midfoot, in the toe area, around the ankle. The fat pads over the foot are because the toddlers are naturally supposed to go barefoot. The fat pads protect the little feet from injuries.
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 in this during with prolonged standing or walking.
Flat footedness is not inherited as most parents think. In toddlers, during the first-steps stages, the feet are flat. The arch is formed later by the age of 5-7 and may continue to develop in puberty as the body grows.
The flat arch in toddlers' feet is due to fatty pad which protects the foot from injuries. As the child starts to walk, this pad begins to melt. Gradually, when children start walking on their toes once can notice that the arch begins to form.
Training of the feet, especially by foot gymnastics and goingbarefoot 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 orthopedic insole that raises the arch. Such insole can even do more harm because:
- it is an unnatural projection during the first-steps stages and would be uncomfortable for the child; it even can lead to pain in both feet.
- It can lead to "lazy" arch during the stage in which the child starts to walk steadily.
TO BE CONTINUED...