When a child learns to walk they receive important feedback from the soles of their feet. Therefore, it is important to allow your child to go barefoot regularly to encourage balance, coordination and posture development.
Shoes, particularly with a hard and inflexible sole, can make walking more difficult and shoes which incorporate arch support have been shown to potentially delay the development of the foot if worn between the ages for 1 and 3 years.
When is the right time to wear shoes?
Your toddler doesn’t need to wear shoes until they have been walking for a couple of months and at this time the sole purpose of the shoe should be to protect the foot from sharp objects and trauma. As your child becomes a confident walker and progresses towards the early school years, footwear considerations should include a slightly stiffer-soled shoe such as an athletic running or school shoe with an appropriate level of support around the arch to help optimise the function of the foot during the school day, as well as for sport and other activities.
Don’t misjudge the Size of Your Child’s Feet
When shopping for shoes for your child, remember that having the shoes properly fitted by a professional is ideal to ensure that both feet are measured accurately in length and width. Little feet are very pliable and grow very quickly (toddlers may need to change shoes every 2 months!), so it is easy to unintentionally keep them in shoes that are too small. This may cause their toes to buckle/bend to fit into this cramped space. Shoes that are too tight can affect your child’s walking and cause problems such as ingrown toenails and digital deformities.
Key points when selecting a shoe for a new walking child are:
- Fit with the child standing
- Avoid online shopping for shoes in the early years
- Allow for growth of half a size for largest foot
- Flexible sole at forefoot
- Securing mechanism, e.g. laces, strap/buckle or Velcro strap
As the child develops their footwear requirements develop with them. Always have your child’s footwear properly fitted by a professional and visit a Podiatrist for further information and guidance.
Jenny’s ELC partners with Active Podiatry and other community partners in Bendigo to help the schools and businesses that support our children as they grow up. A special thanks goes to Active Podiatry for providing the useful advice contained in this article.
If you would like to find out more about Jenny’s ELC centres in Bendigo Hospital, Epsom, Maiden Gully and Strathsfieldsaye, our involvement in the local community or to talk to us about enrollments, contact us today.