Stages of foot development


Birth – 6 months:

No fully formed bones, mostly cartilage.

Bones are protected by a fatty layer of tissue which may make them appear as if they have no arch.

Find light flexible shoes to allow the feet to grow. Your child’s foot will almost double in size from birth to 1 year.

6 months – 9 months:

As your baby begins to stand so does the cartilage in their feet begin to ossify into bone. There will however be large gaps between the bones as they ossify at different rates.

Look for footwear with a firm heel counter and room for toes to move.

9 – 18 months:

Most of the bones in their foot will be ossified by now. The navicular bone which sits where the shoes fasten however can take up to the age of 2 to completely ossify. The foot will be growing very quickly during this time up to 1.5cm a year!

Keep the firm heel counters in shoes and opt for something you can restrain the foot inside the shoe eg. Laces, Velcro or buckles. Stay away from flip flops and pull on boots.

2 – 4 years old:

Now you will notice the foot beginning to take adult shape. The navicular will ossify and you will begin to see a normal arch contour.

Be aware of tripping or flat feet at this stage and consult your podiatrist as to severity.

4 years and beyond:

The arch should fully form and any abnormalities will be obvious to the naked eye.

The growth rate of your child’s foot will begin to slow to around 7mm per year.

Choose footwear that supports their feet. Have their feet assessed so that your podiatrist can correct any abnormalities early and instruct of the correct shoe characteristic for your child.

How do I know If something is wrong?

It’s always best to check anything that you are unsure of with your podiatrist, but here’s a few guidelines:

  • Frequent tripping
  • Knock knees
  • Pigeon toes
  • Pain!!
  • Growing pains
  • Toe walking
  • Flat feet