Every parent wants to ensure they give their baby the best start in life and caring for their feet is an important part of that.
Here we look at the issue of baby and toddler shoes and how you can ensure their footwear always fits correctly and is doing the best it can for their tiny growing feet.
It’s an exciting moment when your baby has begun walking for the first time and they’ll soon be in need of some shoes.
Their first shoes help provide much needed support and protection, so the feet are comfortable and their natural growth is not restricted.
The feet are one area of the body that take a long time to grow fully – it may take up to 18 years before the cartilage has fully hardened and all 26 bones in the feet are formed properly.
Making sure your baby’s feet are well supported is crucial, as whatever they have on their feet needs to still provide plenty of space for growth.
Shoes that don’t fit properly, as well as badly fitting sleep suits and socks, could cause damage by pushing your child’s feet out of shape.
Damage such as this caused at an early age can have a lasting effect into adulthood.
Due to the potential problems, it’s good to let your child wander around in bare feet as much as possible, as long as there is nothing untoward on the floor that they could step on and injure themselves with.
When they’ve been walking for a while – some experts suggest at least six weeks – then it’s time to kit them out with their very own first pair of proper shoes.
When you’re buying first shoes for a baby or more shoes for a toddler, bear the following points in mind:
- Always go to a good, recognised shoe shop and have your child’s feet measured by a professional shoe fitter.
- Let your child try on the shoes and walk around the shop as much as possible, so you can see how the shoe fits on them and whether it looks comfortable.
- Take note of the expertise and advice of the shoe fitters, as they should have plenty of experience with fitting shoes on babies and toddlers.
- Different shoes will fit better according to your child’s age and walking ability. Early shoes have softer soles and are more flexible, which help new walkers to adapt. Shoes aimed at more confident toddlers will have stronger soles.
- Good fitting shoes will provide adjustable fastenings, so they can be altered slightly as your child’s feet grows.
These days there’s quite a market for baby and toddler shoes and the footwear industry seems to some to be reaping the benefits of the fast growing capacity of toddler’s feet.
Some shoe shops, for example, suggest that the very young have their feet measured every six weeks and that new shoes are purchased every six weeks.
The argument goes that this will save unwanted damage to tiny growing vulnerable feet. Whilst this may be a good idea in principle, in reality it means parents are spending money on a very regular basis for shoes that may only has up to six weeks.
In some cases, it’s just not feasible for parents to be buying shoes so often. It’s worth bearing in mind that, in previous generations, parents generally didn’t buy infant footwear so often and children didn’t suffer as a result.
If you’re on a budget, buy new shoes when you can and, when you’re choosing them, try and get a size that fits well, but still allows for plenty of growth.
This should mean that your child gets maximum wear from them, without compromising the health of their feet.