Children’s shoes can play a critical role in their musculoskeletal development, including their posture, so choosing the correct shoe is critical!
Infants are generally just learning how to walk and do not require shoes. It’s perfectly normal and acceptable for them to walk around with just a pair of socks or barefooted indoors. This helps the foot grow normally and develop its muscles and strength as well as encourages the grasping ability of toes.
Once they become toddlers, children are ready to walk and their need for properly-fitted shoes becomes important. Soft, flexible, and roomy shoes, such as sneakers, are a classic and excellent choice. The toe box should provide enough space for growth and should be wide enough to allow the toes to wiggle. A finger’s breadth of extra length will usually allow for about three to six months’ worth of growth, though this can vary depending on your child’s age and rate of growth.
Younger children who struggle to keep their shoes on may benefit from wearing high-top shoes since they tie above the ankle. Though it is believed to, this shoe doesn’t offer any extra foot or ankle support.
Here are some tips when purchasing shoes for children:
- Both feet should be measured every time you shop for new shoes since those little feet are always growing. Commonly, feet are two different sizes, so shoes should be fitted to the larger foot.
- The child’s foot should be sized while he or she is standing up bearing full weight.
- There should be about one-half inch of space (or a thumb’s width) between the tip of the toes and the end of the shoe. The child should be able to comfortably wiggle his or her toes while wearing the shoe.
- Have the child walk around the store for more than just a few minutes wearing the shoe with a normal sock. Ask the child if he or she feels any pressure spots in the shoe. Look for signs of irritation on the foot after the shoe is tested.
- Put your hand inside the shoe and feel around for any staples or irregularities in the glue that could cause irritation. Examine where the inside stitching hits the foot.
- Examine the shoe itself. It should have a firm heel counter (stiff material on either side of the heel), adequate cushioning of the insole, and a built-in arch. It should be flexible enough to bend where the foot bends at the ball of the foot, not in the middle of the shoe.
- Never try to force your child’s feet to fit a pair of shoes.
- Shoes should not slip off at the heels. Children who have a tendency to sprain their ankles will do better with high-top shoes or boots.
If you notice your child frequently removing his or her shoes it may be a sign of discomfort. Redness, calluses, or blisters, are all signs of too-tight shoes, so make sure to regularly check your child’s feet. These could be signs that your child has outgrown his or her shoes and is ready for a new, bigger pair.
The primary purpose of shoes is to prevent injury, not to correct a children’s foot deformities or change a foot’s growth pattern. Should a serious deformity present itself, casting, bracing, or surgery may be required. If you notice a problem, please contact our office to have your child’s feet examined.