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The adult foot consists of 26 bones, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles, which support us and allow us to walk throughout our lives. At maturity many adults tend to have foot problems, sometimes derived from disorders in early childhood and this is why we must take care of children's feet. As J.R. Ebri (specialist in Traumatology and Orthopedics of the Valencian Institute of Children's Orthopedics) is important to distinguish between malpositions and malformations, and to assess the flexibility and associated problems that may exist.
Baby's foot is rounded, with a layer of fat that does not reveal the plantar arch in the first months of life. At birth the foot usually measures about 7.5 cm approximately (40% of adult size), at a year they measure about 12 cm, increasing by 10 cm in the next 5 years, reaching 90% of their final size in girls and 85% in boys.
During the first months of life, the feet have many sensitive receptors, and they serve babies to process information. The article 'Preventive podiatry: barefoot children equal more intelligent children', written by Isabel Gentil García, Professor at the University School of the Complutense University of Madrid, recommends leaving barefoot children who are not yet walking, since movement and movement Sensory stimulation through bare feet is a factor of maturational stimulation, proprioceptive development and intellectual development of the child.
From the third month of life, interest in the body itself appears (which will be the first thing the child explores). At that moment the baby begins to look at his hands and begins to discover his body. 'The image of himself that the child constructs (that is, his identity) has its origin in his tactile, kinesthetic and visual sensations resulting from the child's relationship with the world', says the article. The child plays with his feet and hands and this stimulates his development, because it allows the maturation of the nervous system and favors neuromuscular control, intellectual development and social skills.
During the first 8 or 9 months of life the baby uses his feet to learn about the outside world: he touches everything within his reach, manipulates them and puts them in his mouth. Before you start walking, the baby needs the information it received from the soles of the feet and deep structures (the joints) to be able to coordinate movements and achieve balance. That is why we should not reduce the sensitivity of the feet by wearing them, as they inform the outside world, transmitting sensations of temperature and textures that favor the development of the child. At this stage perhaps there is no need to wear shoes, if we want to avoid cold feet we can use thick socks or booties to allow the mobility of the feet.
Pediatricians usually assess whether the family members have worn special shoes, braces, have had calluses. Signs of hypermobility should be measured, gait observed, other joints examined, the sole of the foot assessed on the podoscope, placing the child on tiptoe. A plantar footprint can be made with a tracing-buffer. Radiography is not necessary in all cases, a good clinical examination by an experienced specialist may be sufficient.
One of the most frequent problems in children that greatly worries parents is flat feet. If it is flexible and reducible, it is not necessary to do X-rays, and it can be physiological up to 4 years, being accentuated by overweight and hypermobility. Low footwear should be used, flexible at the toe, with internal buttress, to improve gait and biomechanical load.
When examining the foot of the newborn and infant, we must be especially careful, since in many cases early treatment, for example with massages, can prevent the need to wear prostheses or even perform surgery. The massages should be gentle, progressive, favoring joint laxity, and the use of splints depends on the professionals and their experience.
Baby massages should be a time of pleasure for the baby and the adult, if the child does not feel comfortable it is better to stop the massage. It is recommended to use oils. Moving the baby's toes, massaging the sole with the knuckles, making circles on the sole of the foot, or around the ankle can stimulate the baby's feet and also relax them.
You can read more articles similar to The Evolution of Babies' Feet, in the category of on-site development stages.