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Family Foot & Ankle

What Happened to My Toddler’s Arches?

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Even if your toddler isn’t into magic tricks yet, you might notice that they may have already mastered at least one: The Amazing Disappearing Arch. As it turns out, many children just learning to walk are quite good at this one—their feet have well defined arches when they sit or get up on their tiptoes, but when standing or walking normally they’re flatter than a playing card. What gives?

The condition is called flexible flatfoot, and fortunately, like most magic tricks it has a totally normal explanation and is usually nothing to be concerned about. When kids are young, their skeletons are still soft and flexible—it helps for all that growing they still have to do! It does mean, however, that the arch is often not well developed and prone to squishing and flexing. Even the relatively light weight of your toddler is enough to collapse it.

But fret not! This disappearing arch trick is almost never painful and usually doesn’t cause any long-term problems for your child. It may take some time, but in the majority of cases, kids will slowly lose the ability to perform this magic trick sometime between age 5 and adolescence. Bones harden, the soft tissues supporting the sole of the foot tighten, and a more rigid arch finally takes shape.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye out for your child, though. Although most kids grow out of a flatfoot condition, some never really develop a permanent arch, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll experience any negative symptoms or need treatment, in some cases they do. Every situation is different, so we encourage you to take your child to see us for an initial examination when you notice feet that are consistently flat, and we also encourage you to watch carefully for signs of discomfort (for example: pain, limping, reticence to engage in active play, or frequent requests to be carried).

To make an appointment for your child with Family Foot & Ankle Center, contact us online or dial 888-689-3317. With six Greater Cincinnati offices located in Ohio and Kentucky, we’re already in your neighborhood, and look forward to serving you!

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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