A fully formed adult foot has 26 bones, 19 muscles and over 100 ligaments; which take up to 18 years to develop
Never put your child in shoes that are too big or too small, and make sure that all footwear including trainers are properly fitted. It is also important to remember to wear the Right Shoe for the Right Occasion, try to get shoes that are designed for the purpose your child will use them for, otherwise they may not offer the support to wear you are expecting.
When does my child need its first pair of shoes? Is the first question most fitters are asked! The simplest answer is when the child is walking most of the day by itself and wants to walk outside. At that time the child needs a pair of shoes to protect its feet. This can be between seven months and two years. Never push your child on to walk if it is not ready just because your friends child has been walking for months; your child may have more important things on its mind! Let your child take their time, it is not a race or a mark of your childs brilliance. Learning to walk is exciting, but only if a child does so of their own accord!
The type of shoes you choose for an infant should be designed around the shape of the feet (slim at the heel and wide at the forepart). This is because an infants foot is reasonably triangular in shape and consists mostly of gristle and cartilage. A good quality shoe looks good for longer and the design incorporates components that respond to the demands of the foot i.e. weight bearing, balance and movement. They should be firm and snug at the heel to cradle the foot and yet flexible at the front with an adjustable fastening.
Do not forget SOCKS. These can be as important as fitted footwear. When a child needs new shoes they may well need new socks. Choose carefully. Cotton socks are best, but always check the toe seam has a `casting off knot on the end can cause painful abrasions. Teach your child to loosen their socks at the toe before putting on shoes as they can restrict the blood stream and cause discomfort particularly with diabetics.
To keep shoes looking good; clean them regularly and apply a good quality polish to keep the leather soft and supple.
Children's feet grow erratically in fits and starts during infancy and feet can grow by a half size in a matter of weeks. Having bought the shoes it is advisable to have them checked after eight weeks to see if they still fit. Admittedly this time in the childs development can be an expensive one! However this is money well spent, don't be tempted to make shoes last longer or revert to badly made self-fitted footwear, as your investment in the future will pay dividends! A trained shoe fitter will check the shoes and advise the customer on whether the child needs a new pair we will not sell you a pair of shoes unless required.
Cut toenails straight across and not too short - don't curve them because this can encourage in-growing toenails.
The most frequent cause of anxiety for mothers about their children's feet relates to the child walking pigeon toed with their weight falling to the inside of the feet rather than the outside. This is known as pronation. This is not the most effective way to walk, being unsightly and causing long term problems; it also makes fitting soft shoes very difficult. When the child's weight comes down onto the inside margin of the foot, the muscles at the sides of the lower leg try to control the foot and keep it balanced, but are unable to do so. The foot loses its balance and rolls inwards. If this happens to a child wearing soft shoes the foot cannot lie straight in the shoe. The inside quarters (rear of the shoe) collapse, the outside quarters have a gap and the little toe gets pressure from the forepart of the shoe. Under these conditions, shoes do not fit well and will not last very long. Well made children's fitted shoes that are stiff at the back yet flexible in the front, control children's feet and keep them balanced. This relieves the muscles from strain and keeps shoes in good shape too. All children's feet will pronate at some point in time to varying degrees which in almost all cases will correct itself as the muscles strengthen and develop. During a time of pronation however, the need for good quality fitted footwear is imperative to ensure the feet develop properly.
Don't dry wet shoes near direct heat - let them dry out naturally in a warm airy place. It might help to fill them with newspaper for a short time to absorb moisture.
Materials should be natural ones. Cotton and leather linings and leather uppers are porous and they ensure that moisture is absorbed and allowed to escape, keeping the feet dry avoiding irritating complaints such as Athletes Foot. Leather is also the only material to conform to the shape of the foot and stay there, thus making the best possible fit. This is why shoes should never be passed down to another child!
Getting children to use laces and buckles is an uphill struggle but don't let them force their feet in and out of shoes without unfastening them. Sometimes Velcro fastenings can make life easier for everyone, and they make older children feel grown up because they are putting on their own shoes.