Feet & development
Feet are amazing – they not only link to the whole body during movement but are the foundation of our bodies, which means keeping feet healthy can keep you healthy.
A fully formed adult foot has 26 bones, 19 muscles and over 100 ligaments - it takes up to 18 years for feet to develop and harden to adult form.
These complex structures send feedback through the body’s nervous system through an intricate system of nerves. When feet develop naturally and are unrestricted, it helps to ensure your whole body develops efficiently and healthily.
Children develop coordination and control at different times and your child's first steps may take place at any time between 9 and 15 months of age. At this stage in their development first steps are tentative and clunky, and their foot shape reflects this - feet are chubby and square, the arch and Achilles remain undefined and their little feet are still not muscular.
When your toddler is taking their wobbly first steps towards walking outdoors, their feet need more protection. They are now likely to be ready for their first walking shoes designed specifically for this development stage with considered support and protection.
At this stage your child needs to have as much contact with the ground as they can to ensure sensory feedback, allowing them to develop their critical connections between their receptors and the brain to form coordination skills and sensorimotor activity. During this exciting stage, your child is busy discovering relationships between their bodies and the environment.
Here are some activities to help your little explorer develop during their first steps:
• Walking on different surfaces is great for stimulation and stability development
• Climbing is also great for coordination, independence and muscle development - let them exercise by climbing onto the sofa or over cushions
• Push-pull toys are good practice and encourage your child to start moving
• Once up on two feet, it’s also important to help them land safely so they build confidence and develop the mechanics of getting up and down and encourage further exploration of their surroundings
You could try these activities to help your child develop once toddling:
• Parent and child swimming classes are great for un-weighted muscular development and coordination
• Play with sponge balls: throwing, catching and kicking are good exercises for hand-eye and foot-eye co-ordination
• Dance with your child, using different energy levels and movements
• Visit your local park or playground - great for large-muscle activity like climbing and balancing, and for observing, learning from others and trying new things