The feet are one of the most intricate structures in our bodies as they are made up of twenty-six bones, along with tendons, and ligaments.
When we are born our feet are mainly cartilage—the substance in our bodies that allows for growth and eventually becomes the bones of our feet.
When a baby is first born the only footwear it requires are socks or booties to allow for growth but keep the feet warm. Once crawling many parents will choose a “pre-walking” shoe which should be flexible and conform to the shape of the foot without restricting movement.
At around the twelve-month mark, most children will start to stand and walk. At this time they will require footwear that will offer them protection, especially if they are walking outdoors, shoes should have enough room – in length, width and depth – to allow the foot adequate space, and shoes and socks may have to be replaced every few months to allow for growth.
Most children should be encouraged to be barefoot when indoors unless you have been advised otherwise by your podiatrist. Ideally, shoes that lace up, or have a strap to hold them on securely will be more appropriate. Many children will grow half a foot size every two months until about 18 months old, this tends to slow slightly to half a foot size every three months until two years of age, between two and three years of age half a foot size every four months and over three about half a foot size every four to six months.
Where possible it is advisable for your child to have their shoes fitted by a salesperson who is trained for this job, the reason for this being that ill fitting footwear can lead to other foot problems as an adult.
Choose shoes made from natural fibres such as leather and canvas, as these fibres allow breathability and tend to be very durable.
The heel counter (the area that encloses the heel) should be strong and not crush easily under pressure from your thumb and index finger.
The shoe should not twist or flex between the heel and ball of the foot, but should flex easily at the ball of the foot – this is where our feet are designed to flex.
The foot should be anchored into the shoe at the heel by lacing, velcro or buckles so that the foot is unable to slide forward in the shoe and does not have to work hard to hold the shoe on.
Shoes with rounded toe boxes will give the toes more space, and there should be a thumb width between the end of the shoe and the end of the longest toe. (Remember that the big toe is not necessarily the longest).
If the upper is soft you should be able to pinch the upper between your thumb and index finger.
Tips for Fitting Children's Footwear
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