NEWBORN - 6 MONTHS
At birth your baby's foot is soft and flexible. Portions of the bones of their feet have hardened (ossified) but the majority of what will develop into bone is still flexible cartilage. The muscles and ligaments are intact and will strengthen over the next few years. Baby's feet are usually turned inwards, with a very low or no arch and the lower legs are bowed, replicating the position of the baby in utero. The foot position varies from baby to baby and in normal development the feet and legs will slowly ‘unfold' over the months to follow.
Baby now gets to work exercising their legs and feet, kicking and stretching at every opportunity.
6 - 12 MONTHS
Baby's foot is still very flexible and the majority of bones are still yet to ossify. There is an increase in fatty (adipose) tissue in the body including those surrounding the structures of the foot. At this stage, the arch has usually been filled out with the adipose tissue giving baby’s feet the appearance of a flexible flat foot when sitting and standing.
The majority of babies are now sitting and crawling unassisted. As your baby begins to move on all fours and on their feet, their bones, muscles and ligaments are strengthening. They are also developing their sense of balance and coordination.
12 MONTHS - 2 YEARS
By 12 months most babies can stand unassisted even for a few seconds and may possibly walk on their own. Most babies walk by 16 months and it is within the normal range to walk by 24 months.
Your baby will stand and walk with their feet placed wide apart for increased stability, while their arms are flexed and are held high for balance. Their legs are usually held in an externally rotated position and the entire leg is lifted and the foot is 'stomped' down. Their foot neither rolls in (pronates) or rolls out (supinates).
As your baby's balance and strength develop, the distance between their feet when walking and standing narrows and they will steadily gain control over their walking. Baby becomes more active over the next 12 months and you will notice that the adipose tissue reduces on their feet, just as it reduces on their arms and legs. The arches of the feet are still flattened, and the bowing of the lower legs is slowly reducing.
2 - 4 YEARS
Your toddler is developing into a preschooler and their feet and their walk are becoming more refined. Their foot is still flexible as the bones are slowly ossifying. Their muscle strength, balance and coordination continues to improve with each month. The arches of their feet are developing and by 36 months the arch of the foot has developed according to its genetic predisposition. Walking is smoother and there is an improvement in control of speed. Their arms are still not fully coordinated with their legs.
4 - 6 YEARS
The foot of the young child is still flexible and continues to strengthen and develop. While the bones of the feet are slowly ossifying, most bones have ossified by age seven. However, ossification is not complete until the late teens or early twenties. The phases of walking are developed, and their stride length has increased.