When should children start wearing shoes? It’s a question that is much debated amongst both parents and health professionals even now in 2018. And with so many gorgeous shoes on the market these days for babies and children, many parents will often splash out on that cute pair of shoes even though they’ll more than likely be outgrown in no time at all.
Here are 4 things to consider when getting shoes for your little one…
1. Foot Development in Children
Children’s feet actually contain no bones when they are born – they’re just cartilage to start with but over time, this ossifies and turns into bones. There are 28 bones that make up the human foot and it’s crucial that they all have a chance to develop properly. This happens from infancy right through to their teen years, so close attention should be paid to their foot development over the years.
2. Is Barefoot Best?
The best way for this to happen, as many podiatrists will tell you, is to let your child go barefoot as much as possible.
Your child’s feet are flat before they begin to walk, and the arch develops over time as they learn to stand, balance and walk unaided.
Allowing them to walk and run barefoot will help their foot to develop naturally, without being restricted by shoes.
Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t buy shoes at all – of course not. Make sure that they get enough time barefoot as well as wearing shoes. And ensure that the shoes you do buy are high quality and supportive, but not too stiff.
Those $5 shoes from K-mart might be a bargain, but they could end up doing far more damage than you could imagine.
3. When Should Your Child Start Wearing Shoes?
You should look at buying your child shoes when they start to walk around outside. Walking indoors is generally safe for toddlers but once they hit the outside world, their little feet are going to need some protection. As a parent, you’ll know this can vary wildly from child to child in terms of age!
Summer in Sydney often sees temperatures of 30 degrees or more, and the last thing you want is to end up in hospital with burns on the soles of your child’s feet – so be sensible about when to wear shoes and when being barefoot is acceptable.
4. What Kind Of Shoes Should My Child Wear?
In terms of features, you want to look for shoes with the following:
- A flexible, flat sole
- An adjustable closure on the top (e.g. laces or Velcro)
- A firm yet comfortable fit
- Good heel support
- A rounded toe with plenty of wriggle room
Visit a specialist children’s shoe store and get your child’s feet professionally measured. The store assistants will then be able to assess your child’s feet and make recommendations on sizing and types of shoes that would best suit them.
Remember: if you have any concerns about your child’s feet or foot development, consult a specialised children’s podiatrist as soon as you notice a problem, because the longer you leave it, the longer it may take to correct.