When a child has flat feet, it means that all parts of the bottom of each foot touch the ground when your child is standing.
Flat feet are not always a problem. Before age 3, all children have flat feet. The arch of the foot does not start to develop until about 3 years of age.
Older children may have flat feet for a number of reasons. Problems with ligaments, muscles, joints, bones, and the nervous system are all possible causes.
Children with conditions such as Down, Marfan, or Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are more likely to have flat feet.
After age 3 your child could have flexible flat feet or rigid flat feet.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and examine your child’s feet. Your provider will watch how your child walks.
If your child’s feet are flexible and don’t cause pain, they don’t need treatment. If the feet are flat after the age of 3, they will likely stay flat but won’t be painful. Children with flexible flat feet may walk barefoot without hurting their feet. They don’t need special shoes, shoe inserts, heel wedges, or any other devices.
If your child’s feet are painful, your healthcare provider will probably refer your child to an orthopedic (bone) doctor. Depending on the cause, different treatments might help.
Ask your healthcare provider whether stretching exercises will help your child.
Ask your healthcare provider what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them. Make sure you know when you should bring your child back for a checkup.