It all started one evening with a discussion with my future mother-in-law, Janice. She was wondering if I had purchased any shoes for my daughter since she had started walking. I told her I hadn't because, frankly, she's at the age where she is just too darn stubborn to take a minute to even put clothes on - let alone sneakers.
I really fear for the future, as in when she is a teenager. But that's a whole other topic.
Well, Janice proceeded to tell me that she always had shoes on her children when they started walking. Why? She was afraid they would become flat-footed. I thanked her for her candor and proceeded to do whatever it was I was doing at the time. I think I was watching TV - can't miss my shows.
Honestly, I wasn't really worried about it at the time but then the thoughts of little Emmy walking around the house, to and fro with little flat feet really began to worry me. I know it was probably just an old wive's tale, but what if it wasn't? I asked my mom if she thought Emmy would have flat feet and she told me I was exaggerating. Typical mom answer.
I'll admit, I'm a hypochondriac and I worry about every little, insignificant thing - when it comes to health. So I started looking stuff up on the trusty Internet, a place where I find all of my reference materials, and began to search for symptoms and conditions of flat feet in babies.
According to a health Web site, some common symptoms of a flat foot are:
A flat look to one or both of your feet
Uneven shoe wear and collapse of your shoe toward the inside of your flat foot
Lower leg pain
Pain on the inside of your ankle
Swelling along the inside of your ankle
I also need to know what caused the condition, because I wanted to make sure Emmy wouldn't have it - shoes or no shoes.
According to the Web site, painful flat feet in children may be caused by a condition called tarsal coalition. Tarsal coalition is a condition where two or more of the bones in the foot fuse together, limiting motion and often leading to a flat foot. Flat feet can also be caused by fallen arches, the Web site adds. Years of wear and tear can weaken the tendon that is responsible for shaping the arch. Fallen arches can also be caused by injury such as inflammation of the tendons in the foot, the Web site adds.
It didn't say anything about not wearing shoes! I was so relieved when I read that, but just to make sure I had to ask my daughter's pediatrician. According to him, a layer of fat is reserved on the bottom of a child's foot to help them walk. After a year or so, the fat begins to wear away to reveal the natural arch on the foot.
There, my worries have been resolved! I told Janice and my mom the good news - only to find out that Janice had bought Emmy her first brand new pair of sneakers. Even though I was against the whole idea of her in sneakers at first, I have to admit she is pretty stylish in her pink and white, velcro strapped shoes.
Sentinel reporter Tara Maguire welcomes parenting advice and stories and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.