I am slightly obsessive about good foot care, our feet are after all vital to us achieving so many things. Looking after our children's feet during these formative years is an essential part of ensuring healthy feet and good posture throughout their lives.
A correctly fitted pair of shoes will offer support and allow the feet to grow and develop naturally, leaving them free to run, jump and explore without impediment.
Amazing Little Feet
The perfection of tiny hands and feet never fails to amaze me, each one a little miracle of engineering. At birth the foot is predominantly cartilage, which gradually develops into bone (ossifies) as the foot grows. This process is not complete until around the age of 18, highlighting just how vulnerable young feet can be to the persistent pressure of ill-fitting shoes.
To perform the very important functions of keeping us upright and balanced, and propelling us around, the foot uses an intricate structure of 26 bones and hundreds of muscles, tendons and ligaments. The sole of the foot is covered in nerve endings sending vital information to the brain. When learning how to operate this complex system it is crucial that a child can feel the ground with their feet and the foot has the freedom to move naturally.
On The Move
Toddler's feet are almost triangular in shape, with the widest part of their foot being across the toes, and they are covered in a layer of protective fat. Over the coming years the foot will slim down, elongate and the arch becomes visible. It is important when selecting children's shoes to choose styles specifically designed for for your child's foot shape and stage of development.
Shoes with a wide toe box allow little toes to wriggle and spread out with each step. A flexible sole with good grip will move with the foot and help to prevent slips and trips interfering with their explorations. It's hard to believe but on average children's feet produce twice as much sweat as an adult, so a breathable upper is ideal, to help draw moisture away from the foot.
There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should have your child's feet measured, each child is different and feet usually grow in spurts, so at a young age the size of their feet can change quite dramatically in a short period of time. My advice is to have regular checks, every 6-8 weeks up to the age of four, after that every 10-12 weeks should suffice. There is never any obligation to buy and it is better to have peace of mind.
One final note, socks and tights should also be checked on a regular basis to make sure they are not restricting the foot and there are no loose threads that could rub and cause irritation