We were happy to be featured by YPB Magazine on the topic of flat feet. Below you can find a transcript of the interview with Nicole van Besouw, one of our founders, and an occupational therapist.


My baby is on the verge of walking, but when I look at his feet, I don't know how he's going to keep his balance. They are little puffed-up muffins! No arch, and really flat, with these tiny toes. They're very cute, but is this normal? His legs are also really bowed - no way he could catch a piglet. Will this make him walk funny?

Nicole's Answer:

There is a fat pad in babies' feet that is there for protection and cushioning of the foot structure until the muscles become stronger. Spitzy's fat pad, which fills the middle of the foot, may cause you to think that your child is flat-footed, but this is usually not the case. A foot specialist (a paediatric podiatrist or foot and ankle orthopaedic doctor) can diagnose this should the arches of the feet not develop at a later stage. The arches develop over a period of a few years with strengthening that comes from mobility, and the fat pad disappears around 6 years old.

Children's feet are more flexible than adult feet due to fewer cross links of collagen fibres, but this means that kids' feet are more vulnerable to external forces like ill-fitting shoes. The hardening of the bones occurs over time, with the most rapid change from birth until 3 years, showing us that encouraging natural movement - which allows for optimal sensory input and strengthening through play and exploration - as well as going barefoot whenever possible, is the way to go.

With movement through walking, climbing and play, the arches and the muscles/ligaments become lean and strong - the feet lose their chubby, spongy appearance. It isn't solely our feet and legs that help us walk correctly - many parts of our amazing bodies work together to allow us to walk successfully.

The brain's ability to plan the movement, the vestibular system that aids balance, building confidence through repeated success, as well as affirmation from us as caregivers, overall tone and posture of the body and visual-motor skills are some of the factors that aid walking. Kids learning to walk are called toddlers because they "toddle" - they are off balance, walk with their legs wide apart, hesitate and often fall. In the early months, their arms are often outstretched in front of them but eventually move to their side, as they no longer need as much protection from falling.

Bowed legs begin to straighten due to weight-bearing and normal walking patterns. Kids usually outgrow this bowed shape, which is mostly caused as a result of tightly folded legs while inside the womb.

The child's ability to absorb information, learn and adapt to the environment is incredible to witness. As parents and caregivers, we can nurture optimal development in our kids by encouraging play, natural movement and simple ways to connect with the world around them.

As a parent of two delightfully adventurous boys, I noticed the regular kids' shoes we had them in hindered their movement and pinched their toes - they were tripping over tree roots and rocky paths, struggled with climbing trees, were reluctant to climb up ladders or slides because they didn't feel stable doing it. (It was a totally different story when they were barefoot!)

As we were rushing out the house, it was always a fight to find shoes, socks, put the shoes on and tie the laces! They didn't like the shoes we had them in. We put one foot in front of the other, and we created our first range of Common Tread shoes. This range of locally made barefoot- designed shoes for toddlers are based on these principles, which nurture the natural development of children and enable movement and play. 


Back to blog