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What about your new baby's flat feet?


Photo by: Mateo Guinsburg

Most infants have feet which look “flat” but are in fact normal. If an infant has supple, pliable feet that look "flat” on standing they are probably not “flat footed”.  As with other physical characteristics, the shape and size of the feet and arches are inherited.  And every parent wants healthy, happy children.  Well-meaning parents and/or friends may notice the flat appearance of the feet when the infant tries to stand.  Parents may become concerned or even feel guilt over the "inherited" condition. The visit to the doctor will clean out their checkbook but it does not help the child.  Most infants do not need special shoes or splints for so-called "flat feet". Given a chance and "watchful neglect" most infants will end up with normal feet.

The Cause
All newborns have a) undeveloped muscles and tendons in the feet, 2) a pad of baby fat in the sole of the foot which makes it appear that the infant has flat feet, and 3) when the toddler stands up on the feet the feet turn outward for balancing.  With age, growth of the musculature, and absorption of the fat pad, the feet develop normal arches. Once the child starts walking they need flexible, wide and adequate sized shoes in which their feet can move freely.

Home Remedies
Leave the infant's feet alone - let nature take its course. Let the child walk barefoot, exercise, run, kick, stand on bare feet most of the day.  By age of two the arches start forming and by the age of five they are “normal”.  Rigid shoes, splints, arch supports and fancy shaped shoes are not needed and may hamper the growth of the feet and hence are harmful.  They are also very expensive!

When to Seek Professional Help
If the infant's feet are rigid, distorted and turned inward or outward, or if parents are in serious doubt, then it may be prudent to see a doctor.

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