How the foot develops
So, we all know babies’ feet are very delicate right? But did you know a baby’s foot contains only cartialge? As the cartilage is so soft a child cannot feel the discomfort of poorly fitted shoes and their feet can be easily damaged or misshapen at this crucial stage of development. The cartilage gradually fuses together to form 26 soft bones by the age of 5. The bones complete the hardening process by about age 15 and the foot is fully developed about 3 years later. It is important to care for your child’s feet throughout this time as they are the foundation of the whole body and damage to the feet at a young age can cause health issues in the future, including neck, leg and back problems in adulthood.
Your child’s motor development is usually completed between the ages 10 and 24 months. After learning to crawl they look for something to hold onto, so they can try to stand up. When they feel safer, they will try to take their first steps, always seeking to grab onto something to help them out.
In a realy safe environment, indoors, at home then the best thing is to allow your child to be barefoot as much as possible. This allows for completely natural movement and development and lets them feel the ground beneath them so they can workout how to grip and balance naturally. However, your child will not always be in this type of environment. They will be busy exploring life, playing with others, being outdoors in the fresh air and so much more. So during these times it is crucial you support their steps with the right shoes.
How to choose your child’s shoes
Picking out the right shoes for your child requires careful thought. It is very important that they avoid harming or interfering with the phisiology and proper development of their feet.
12 to 24 months – To support their steps without restricting their tender, little feet, look for shoes made with light, breathable materials, a soft flexible sole, a wide toe box to allow room to wiggle toes freely and a reinforced back section to help your child stay upright with the right posture without restricting the foot. The shoe should be as adjustable as possible to allow for different width feet to be supported. Rip tape straps, laces or buckles are a must to ensure the fit is both comfortable and secure.
2 years plus – When your child is walking confidently, their feet and shoes are subject to new stresses. Their feet have a more defined structure, they are more tapered and the shoes should comform to this shape. The right shoes must have soft but sturdy uppers that protect the feet from the elements as well as practical, safe fasteners. You should still be looking for adjustable closures, flexible soles and supportive heel cups, but also the extra energy and movement at this stage creates more perspiration so breathable materials, particularly through the insoles are vital to provide a safe, hygenic environment within the shoe.
Buying the right size
Once you’ve managed to source a suitable style then you need to think about how it fits!!
Ensuring they have enough room to grow but that the shoe is not so large it will cause them to trip. Here’s a few pointers to help you decide
Make sure the heel is against the back part of the shoe
Have your child walk around a little to ensure their foot has relaxed into the shoe
Press down lightly infront of the big toe and ensure there is about 1 cm between the toe and the end of the shoe
Alternatively, open the shoe as far as possible and push the foot to the front of the shoe. If you can just fit your finger in the space at the back of the shoe then the growing room is about right
Remember to check both shoes as children’s feet are often slightly different from one another
Always concentrate more on the bigger foot. It is much safer to have one shoe slighlty too big/wide than one shoe that’s too small/tight.
At the widest part of the foot, run you thumb over the top of the shoe from one side to the other. There should be a slight amount of movement. If the material does not move at all then the shoe is too tight.
Run your finger down the side of the shoe to feel for the little toe. If you can feel the toe pushing against the side of the shoe, creating a “lump” then the shoe is too tight.
If in doubt seek advice from a trained shoe fitter
When to get new shoes
Children’s feet grow rapidly but not consistanly, they tend to grow in spurts. It is impossible to predict how often they will need new shoes but as a general rule of thumb on average you should check their shoe size as follows
Up to 2 years – every 2 months
2 to 4 years – every 3 to 4 months
4 to 6 years – every 5 to 6 months
6 years plus – every 7 to 8 months
I hope this information has been useful. If you need any further help more specific to your child’s need then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01434 622 354 or you can send us a message via our contact us page.
Happy shoe shopping