Flat feet in children

Most adult feet have an arch along the inside of the foot. Flat feet is when the arch is not there or reduced when your child is standing. 

This is usually because the tissues in the feet are loose or flexible. Also, a baby has extra fat on their feet which can make them look flatter.

You may be able to see your child’s arches:

  • when they are sitting
  • when their big toe is bent backwards
  • if they stand up on their tiptoes

Most children will develop an arch by age 6.

Illustration showing how children born with flat feet usually develop an arch at 6 to 10 years old

Flexible flat feet

‘Flexible flat feet’ means your child’s feet are flat but when they stand up on their tiptoes you can see their arch.

Pathological flat feet

‘Pathological flat feet’ means your child’s feet are flat due to a disease or a condition.

This may be caused by:

  • a neuromuscular disease such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida
  • a rigid flat foot – a foot that does not develop an arch when standing on tiptoes
  • a foot that originally had an arch and has changed shape
  • a painful flexible flat foot
  • if only one foot is flat (the other has an arch)

Treatment for flat feet

Your child will not need any treatment if they have a ‘flexible flat foot’ and no other symptoms.

See a physiotherapist if your child has a flexible flat foot and:

  • pain
  • difficulty running
  • issues with balance

You can arrange to see a HSE or private physiotherapist through your child's GP.

The physiotherapist will recommend exercises and tell you what shoes your child should wear.

If your child has a pathological flat foot you should talk to their GP.

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.

Page last reviewed: 17 August 2021
Next review due: 17 August 2024