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Why do babies have flat feet?

Body Inside & Out   |   Age: 5 months


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Why do babies have flat feet?

Plenty of us take the arches of our feet for granted when we go for a walk, chase after the bus, or step out of the shower. But our arches can only keep us upright so long as we have capable leg and foot muscles to support them. Babies need a lot of time to build up their lower body strength, so the feet compensate with a special layer of fat that protects the arches. This can create the illusion that a baby’s feet are flat when it's more likely that they’re just waiting to shed the extra padding and spring forth into the world.

When will your baby’s arches reveal themselves?

Most babies’ arches develop between their second and third birthdays, but it can take as long as 10 years.

Should I buy baby shoes with special arch support?

Popular shoe shopping wisdom suggests that arch support is a requirement for any purchase. But when it comes to baby shoes, you’ll notice that most models don’t offer any arch support: that extra layer of fat already does the job. Any more support could actually hurt your baby's feet.

What if your baby’s arches don’t develop?

Some babies are born truly flat-footed, particularly those with a family history of the condition. If your baby’s arches don’t emerge after a few years, your doctor should be able to confirm the presence or absence of the condition by the time your baby is 5 years old. And if your baby’s feet really are flat, the doctor may refer you to a podiatrist who can offer helpful muscle stretches and supportive footwear advice. Many people with flat feet have no problems with them, though, and a doctor's visit may not be necessary.


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