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What to look out for in young children' developmental milestones and when to visit a Podiatry clinic

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Trying to navigate potential health-related/behavioural issues or developmental milestones in young children can be difficult for parents to manage. Podiatrists treat individuals of all ages, in particular, we see a lot of young children with various complaints.

This blog aims to educate parents about the potential developmental issues podiatrists encounter in the clinic and how we can best manage them or refer off to experts such as a paediatrician for a more thorough assessment and accurate diagnoses.

Surveillance versus screening

Screening and surveillance of early childhood development are important aspects for the care of children. Some literature states that not all healthcare workers adhere to a standardised protocol for assessing developmental milestones with children. For example, the United States of America and South Africa, rely on clinical judgment alone which potentially could miss a developmental delay and many European nations do not recommend developmental screening but rather developmental surveillance.

What does developmental milestone and developmental delay mean?

"Developmental milestones" are defined as specific skill attainment occurring in a predictable sequence over time, reflecting the interaction of the child’s developing neurological system within the environment".

What does this mean?

Basically, skills can be grouped into five separate categories gross motor, fine motor, communication, cognitive and social-emotional. A few examples of these skills are social smiling, crawling, a child's first steps, and speaking. All children's development is constantly evolving and not all children reach all these milestones at the expected time. It is when these developmental milestones take significantly longer than expected, this is considered a developmental delay.

Signs to look out for:

  • If the child reached some milestones quite a bit later than other children of similar ages

  • Any type of pain

  • If their walking style looks uncoordinated (toe walking, out toeing/in toeing etc)

  • Trips and falls as this can be linked to lower limb imbalances

  • You notice the child is often left behind in sporting activities, or they have mentioned that they are slower than their friends

  • Abnormal shoe wear, especially under the big toe area and lateral heel area.

  • Tiring easily

  • Any skin changes

  • Any differences in size, shape or length in the lower limb (ie. if muscle bulk seem larger on one calf versus the other side or one knee seems high than the other knee)

How can a podiatrist help your child's complaint?

A podiatrist will gather a comprehensive birth, post natal history and medical history to ascertain the best management plan

There are several paediatric assessments a podiatrist will perform:

  • Stretching/strengthening exercises

  • Proprioception exercises

  • Orthotics

  • Footwear advice

  • Electrotherapy may be required (laser or ultrasound therapy)

  • Sending for imaging

  • Referral to a specialist if the complaint is out of their scope of practice (paediatrician)

If you have found this blog interesting or you believe your child needs to see a podiatrist, please contact us at or 8648 7678 or come in store to chat with our friendly staff.

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