Making the right choice of footwear for your child can be a taxing exercise. Choices are aplenty, but how can you ensure that your choice of footwear is the best for your child? The human foot has 26 bones working together to ensure health and mobility for a lifetime. Ill-fitting footwear can put your child at risk of short and long-term injuries.
To overcome this footwear dilemma, let’s first understand how a child’s foot develops. Dr Alpana Dongre, a skeletal physiotherapist from Total Rehab, Chennai, says, “A child’s foot develops from birth till they turn 18. But, after the first 10 years, the growth of feet is less than 1mm per month. The development of the feet bones are almost complete in girls by 14 years of age and for boys, the foot growth stops when they reach 16.”
Doctors recommend that children under the age of 5 should be encouraged to walk barefoot in the house. The sensory feedback from the floor helps in developing the tone of the muscles, not only of the feet, but also of the leg and spine. Good foot care can help in the growth of a healthy and painless feet, which is why you should regularly check for blisters or irritation in your little one’s feet.
Here are a few simple steps to help you pick the right footwear for your child:
Safety and comfort should be of top priority while purchasing the shoes. Look for shoes with toe flexibility, stiff heel and a rigid middle. The material used should be lightweight, absorbent and breathable. Give special attention to the insoles as most infants have flat feet.
Preeti Agarwal Gupta, a leading footwear and accessories designer, insists that parents find a shoe that is of the right size, ensuring that the length and width is appropriate for the child’s feet. For this, the designer recommends that testing the shoes before buying them is a must. “Make your child wear the shoes and walk around a bit; also check for unspoken signs like limping, red marks and reluctance to wear a certain pair of shoe.” Says Preeti.
This is where most parents get it wrong. We plan for the size but there are so many other factors that vary on the basis of the age of the child. Different shoes are available for kids depending on their age-group and their stage of development.
Wrong footwear not only causes deformities like flat feet, high arched feet or in-toe walking, but also affects posture, balance and co-ordination of the whole body. Flat feet is common in children up to 3 years of age. However, consult a physiotherapist and use corrective foot orthotics along with regular footwear to fix such deformities.
Comfort over style should be the thumb-rule while picking shoes. No matter how adorable the shoes are, they are a big NO if they are going to affect the growth of the child’s feet.
Footwear for different age groups
Infancy (birth to 1 year)
At this stage, it is necessary to keep your baby’s feet unhindered. “During this stage, footwear should not be used in the conventional sense, as a baby requires only booties and socks to provide warmth,” says Roshni Kezia, a doctor by profession, who began making crochet booties after the birth of her daughter. She believes in using organic materials that are non-irritant to the baby’s skin.
Toddler (1-3 years)
Shoes for toddlers should be made of breathable and natural fabrics as toddler’s feet perspire a lot. Feet should be protected in flexible footwear with soft soles. Avoid sandals, wedges and flip-flops.
Young child (4-8 years)
A well-ventilated shoe made of durable material to endure active play is a safe bet. The shoe should provide good heel support with easy adjustable fastenings. Order shoes that have inserts to help cope with sudden growth spurts!
Pre-teen (9-12 years)
A good variety of options are available for this age-group. Flashy sneakers and trendy boots might be tempting, but make sure such styles are comfortable for your kid before purchasing them. At this stage, kids are vulnerable to blisters. Therefore, the material has to be reasonably soft.
Choose shoes based on the activity. Special sports shoes should be used for kids involved in sports, open sandals for summer and boots during winters. Avoid regular use of wedges and heels for girls and heavy hard-soled shoes for boys, till the age of 16.
Did you know
- Walking barefoot on sand and grass helps a child’s feet grow properly.
- Measure your child’s foot at the end of the day, when the foot is at its largest size!
- If your baby needs a larger shoe, she will also need bigger socks!
- A kid’s feet endure 3 times more stress than that of an average adult.