Most of us are born with perfect feet, yet by the time we reach adulthood, many of us suffer from various kinds of foot problems ranging from corns and calluses to in growing toe nails, bunions and worse.
Some foot problems are hereditary and it's often difficult to prevent these. However, many can be avoided simply by wearing correctly fitted shoes throughout childhood.
Healthy feet have 26 bones, most of which, at birth, are just soft cartilage. During childhood, these bones begin to ossify (harden) and are not fully developed until about the age of 18.
It is, therefore, very important during these formative years to look after children's developing feet as they are very sensitive to pressure, and can easily adopt the shape of a shoe that doesn't fit properly which can then prevent the foot from developing naturally.
Having correctly fitted shoes will offer support where it's needed and will allow the foot to develop and grow without any restrictions.
As children's feet change shape as they develop and mature, so should the shoes that are put on their feet.
A baby's foot is square in shape so a first shoe needs to have space at the front to accommodate the width at the toes and also needs to be soft and flexible to allow the muscles to develop, whereas an older child of 8 to 12 years will be starting to develop a more adult shaped foot and will need something more structured and hard wearing.
An experienced shoe fitter will ensure that your child has the correct shoes for their stage of development. It is important not to rush your child into wearing shoes before they're ready and BARE FEET ARE BEST until your child is walking confidently for most of the day.
Children's feet grow in spurts, most quickly in the early years then slowing down as they get older. Shoes should be checked every 4-8 weeks up to about 3 years old, then every 8-12 weeks as they get older.
You shouldn't have to buy a new pair of shoes every time your child is measured, but it is important to have regular checks to make sure there is enough room for their growing feet. A good shoe shop won't sell you a pair of shoes if your child doesn't need them.
A good shoe shop will have a wide selection of brands and be able to offer shoes in various sizes and width fittings.Your child's feet should ALWAYS be measured before trying on shoes, but remember that the measurement is only a guide, and doesn't mean that all shoes in that size will fit. A good shoe shop will always thoroughly check the fit before you take them home.
Our children have a long and exciting journey ahead of them. Let's make sure we start them off on healthy feet.