Caring for your child’s feet

Caring for your child’s feet is just as important as maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Your baby’s feet develop over time and at birth your baby will have up to 22 bones. By the time your baby turns into a young adult at 18 years of age the 22 bones will increase to the maximum 26 bones. The first few years of your baby’s development are crucial as the bones in your baby’s feet are very soft and need room to move around. Tips for looking after your child’s feet are provided below:

  • Try not to put your baby in tight shoes as this can result in claw or hammered toes.
  • Try to give your baby’s feet breathing space by keeping them in bare feet on occasion in the house.
  • Look at your baby’s feet regularly to check if they have incurred any damage or blisters.
  • Only use socks and shoes that are breathable and use absorbent material.
  • Use socks rather than shoes in the house as this will keep your baby’s feet warm without restricting movement.

Walking and your baby’s first shoes

The minute your baby takes their first steps is a happy and memorable occasion and you want to see your baby walking happily forever. This is an important milestone in your baby’s development and there are things you can actively do to ensure your baby’s feet are well looked after.

Your baby may need his/her first pair of shoes once they start to walk and you can purchase specific shoes for toddlers. A member of staff may be able to assist you with choosing the correct shoe. Below are some tips about your baby’s first shoes and walking:

  • It is recommended your baby’s first shoes should be made from lightweight and natural materials.
  • Make sure the soles of your baby’s first shoes are flexible and have non-skid bottoms to reduce the risk of falling.
  • Try to check your child’s every 6-8 weeks as your child’s feet grow rapidly and can double to two full sizes in a year.
  • You can get your child’s first shoe fitted by a shoe fitter, who can give you relevant advice on the correct shoe according to your child’s age.
  • You should try to make sure your child’s shoes give a 18mm room space for your child’s feet to breathe.

Potential foot problems for children

If you are concerned your child may have problems with their feet it is best to consult your doctor or health visitor. Many children suffer from the following foot problems:

  • Flat feet –This is when your child waddles when they walk. Almost all babies do this when they first start to walk and are unbalanced. However, if your child continues to do this by the age three it is best to see a podiatrist who will able to diagnose the problem.
  • Talipes – This is when one or both of your child’s feet have a deformity. Talipes is normally identified at birth and can be caused by a lack of balance in the foot muscles. Talipes can be hereditary.

Caring for your child’s hair

Many children dislike washing their hair; however, there are things you can do to encourage your child to allow you to wash their hair, as described below:

  • Try to make washing hair fun by showing your child that even their favourite doll or ‘action man’ gets their hair washed.
  • Perhaps your child doesn’t like it when the shampoo goes in their eyes. Try to reassure him/her you will do your best to keep the shampoo away from their eyes.
  • Try to leave a gap between washing your child’s hair of say a few days to give them time to forget about when they last had it done.
  • Ask and listen to your child’s fears about washing his or her hair to reassure them.
  • Praise your child if they allow you to wash their hair without fuss.
  • Try giving your child bath toys or a form of distraction such as one of their favourite songs playing in the background while you wash their hair.

Looking after your child’s hair is as important as maintaining good teeth. Try the tips above and your child should begin to wash their own hair at some stage.

Washing children’s hair

How should I wash my child’s hair?

Most parents find it easier to wash their children’s hair in the bath, rather than in the shower. As they grow older, they may want to try out the shower, especially if they see you in the shower. It is useful to use a shower head to wash your child’s hair but if you don’t have a shower head in your bath, you can always just use a jog to pour the water over your child’s head. Try to encourage your child to tip their head back slightly so that the water runs off the back of their head, rather than down their face; lots of children don’t like the feeling of water running down their face and it can be painful if shampoo goes in their eyes.

Try to start washing your child’s hair once they are settled and happy in the bath; this way, they are less likely to make a fuss of having their hair washed.

When your child is still very small, it may be easier to wrap them in a towel and hold them while you or your partner washes their hair; you can hold them under your arm while you tip their head back and then you or your partner can gently wash their hair; this will only work when they are very small.

How often should I wash my child’s hair?

You do not need to wash your child’s hair every day or even every other day; wash it when it needs washing. Most parents tend to wash their child’s hair around 2 or 3 times per week when they are still very young; as they grow up and start to feed themselves and get involved in messy play, you may find you have to wash their hair more regularly.

Which shampoo should I use?

It is advisable to use a shampoo, which has been specifically designed for babies and young children; these tend to be gentler and most are free from perfume and additional ingredients which may irritate delicate skin. Baby shampoos usually have a lower pH value. Johnson’s baby range is very popular amongst parents and many supermarkets now have their own baby ranges, which may be more affordable.

Tips for making hair washing fun

Some babies don’t mind having their hair washed but lots of children hate having their hair washed and bath time can become very stressful. Here are some tips for making bath time fun and encouraging your child to stay calm when they are having their hair washed:

  • Make bath time fun by putting toys in the bath, splashing around and playing with your child
  • Encourage your child to wash their doll’s hair or get in the bath with them and get them to wash your hair; this will help them to realise that bath time isn’t that bad after all
  • Hold their head back while you wash their hair to avoid getting shampoo in your baby’s eyes
  • Encourage your child to play with their hair; get them a mirror and help them to make funny shapes with their hair
  • Leave it a couple of days between washes
  • When your child is old enough, encourage them to wash their own hair
  • Reward good behaviour
  • Distract your child while you wash their hair; play them music, play games with them and encourage them to look at the ceiling so that they don’t get shampoo in their eyes (tell them to look at lights or stars on the ceiling or to try and find a spider)

Caring for your child:

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