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Healthy, happy summer feet

Slipfree beach/pool shoes

I'm sure we're all delighted the sun has finally appeared and temperatures are rising... feet might be starting to feel a bit hot, perhaps a little sweaty! So what should little feet be wearing during the warmer months?

If it's safe to do so being barefoot is great for establishing good balance and developing the muscles of the foot and leg. For those times protection is needed, a shoe or sandal should fit securely at the heel, holding the foot in position. This in turn allows the foot to relax and move naturally.

The sole should be substantial enough to absorb the impact of all their running, jumping, climbing and exploring, particularly at the heel, which takes the brunt of each step.

One question that comes up again and again is, closed or open toe sandals? That's really down to personal choice. I tend to recommend closed toe for toddlers as toes are protected and there's more risk of tripping in open toe sandals. This is equally true for older children and, while we all like plenty of growing room in new shoes, sandals that are too big are more likely to cause an accident. There shouldn't be much more than 0.5cm growing room in open toe sandals.

The unpredictability of the weather can make choosing summer shoes a bit tricky. Personally I love the socks and sandals look for little ones! If that's not for you, a lightweight trainer style or Mary Jane shoes could be a good compromise and many summer styles are soft enough to be worn without socks on hotter days.

Despite their small size, children's feet can sweat twice as much as an adult's! Shoes made of natural materials, such as leather and cotton, will draw moisture away from the foot and help to regulate their temperature. There is nowhere for moisture to escape to in synthetic/plastic shoes, so it will collect in the shoe, around the foot.

You won't be surprised I have pretty firm views on styles best avoided for children. Top of the list is flip flops! They do not provide the support, motion control and cushioning active children need, which can lead to foot, ankle and leg injuries. With only a thin strap across the front of the foot, the toes have to work extra hard to grip and control the flip flop. The bones of the toes are still developing and over time this gripping action can cause a permanent deformity. Working hard to keep a shoe on your foot will also strain the muscles and tendons, including the plantar fascia, which runs along the sole of your foot. If you've ever suffered from plantar fasciitis (perhaps after wearing flip flops!), you'll know it can be painful and debilitating.

Crocs are so easy for children to slip on and off by themselves and are great for water play and on the beach. However, they are not well-fitted or supportive, so not suitable for wearing all day, every day through the summer. As long as they are not rubbing, wearing Crocs for short periods of time should not cause a problem.

On a more a positive note, if you're looking for something lightweight, flexible and water-friendly to protect their feet on hot sand, hot fake grass, for wearing around the pool or on slippy floors, I think Slipfree's, pictured above, are an ingenious idea. Made of swimsuit material, with a thin rubber non-slip sole, the foot is able to move freely while still being protected.

There is no shortage of summer styles to choose from, I have no doubt there will be one with the fit and functionality your little one needs. I'm always happy to answer any questions you have about little feet and footwear, just get in touch #theshoelady

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