The Development of Arches in a Toddler's Feet

Just as the head-to-body ratio is completely different at birth than it is for an adult, your toddler might not appear to have the same foot arches as you do. Under normal development, arches will start to appear as he gets older.

Young Feet

It's normal for a baby's feet to appear flat. Because children’s joints and bones are so flexible, they spread out when the child bears weight on his feet. This gives the flat appearance of the feet. Your toddler’s feet will continue to be flexible for a few years.

Fat Pad

If you examine your little one’s feet as he is lying down, you will notice a fat pad on the inside edge of each foot. These pads hide the foot’s arch underneath it. If your hold your child under his armpits and help him stand just on the tips of his toes, you’ll be able to see the arch of his foot. When you let his feet rest flat on the floor, the arch will disappear again under the fat pad.

Arch Development

As your child closes in on his sixth birthday, his bones and joints become less flexible. As the bones harden, they don’t spread out as much. The fat pad will also disappear as your child ages. You will start to notice the arches start to appear.


In his book, “Your Baby’s First Year,” New York pediatrician Steven P. Shelov states that only one or two out of 10 children will continue to have flat feet into adulthood 1. Because different conditions can cause flat feet, various approaches are called for. Some conditions cause pain, while others simply need to stretch the muscles to rectify the issue. If you have any concerns about your child’s feet, contact your pediatrician. Shelov also advises to not use a shoe insert for your toddler unless instructed to do so by your pediatrician.

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