Sensible shoes put children’s feet first
Buying the right type and fit of footwear for young children is worth the expense, says Judith Woods
As a child, I remember vividly the thrill of being taken to the shoe shop; the heady excitement of placing my foot on the high tech electronic foot gauge, the gentle bump of the bars against my toes and heels.
That my mother always insisted the shoes themselves were dreary and brown was a bit of an anticlimax. But with each visit came the hope that the shop might have Nike Roshe Run Women’s Shoe Orange Green New Zealand out of brown ‘G’ fittings and oh, joy she would have to buy me the red ones.
I was duly kept in (brown) Start rites until I was old enough to know they weren’t cool, but the lesson that tiny feet are precious stayed with me, right into parenthood.
When should children start to wear shoes?
Many parents start to fret about footwear soon after their children are born. There are so many contradictory messages that it is easy to feel confused. Should you buy those cute little newborn shoes to keep your baby’s feet warm, or might the sturdy leather restrict growth?
Are Nike Air Force 1 Flyknit Men’s Shoes Black Outlet Nz vital for those faltering first steps, or are bare feet preferable? Most important, must all footwear be professionally fitted, or is it OK to buy a pair of Cheap Nike Kyrie 3 GS Black Red White Online Nz trainers for tearing about in the park?
“A child doesn’t need shoes until he or she is starting to walk outside,” says Julian Livingstone, consultant podiatrist at Barnet General Hospital.
“At birth, children have cartilage in their feet rather than bone. Bone structure doesn’t fully form until between the age of 16 and 18. As a result, children’s feet are far more malleable than adult feet, so well fitting footwear is essential.” A properly fitted shoe should support the arch and be unrestricted around the toes, allowing them to splay on contact with the ground, which happens when walking. First shoes should be soft soled, so the foot has to work a little bit harder to support the child.
“Generally speaking,” says Livingstone, “the standard recommendation for footwear for all ages is quite simple: a lace up shoe with three to five holes, although Velcro will do just as well. But as the father of two daughters, I know it’s not always easy to put this into practice.”
Must they be fitted?
“I am a firm believer in the right shoe for the right purpose,” says Livingstone, “and I would always recommend a child has more than one pair of shoes, and that they should be changed every day. Fitted shoes are always far preferable to unfitted shoes.” With such a wide variety of brands and shops to choose from, parents may feel they can judge the correct size. But there’s more to a good fit than a number. Charles Boyce, training manager of Start rite, has been fitting shoes for 28 years.
“I could teach any mother how to find the right length and width, but there’s more to it than that,” says Boyce. “A trained fitter will be able to judge whether the arch is receiving the right level of support and whether the style of shoe is right for the girth of the child’s foot, the heel shape and the foot’s proportions.”
Because young children’s ligaments are very loose, their feet can be squeezed into badly fitting shoes without them feeling any immediate discomfort. But long term damage can occur.
Major shoe brands, such as Start rite and Clarks, offer a range of width fittings. The average width is F, which only covers 35 per cent of children; the rest vary from C to H.
Fitting shoes may be an art, but over the years it has been turned into a science. In the early Sixties, children’s feet were X rayed using a pedoscope. Then it was discovered that this new technology carried risks, not so much to the children, but to the staff who were exposed to the rays throughout the day, with no protection.
The electronic foot gauge of my childhood is no longer in vogue, though old fashioned gauges are still widely used in many shops and department stores, including John Lewis.
“It won’t be long before Nike Kyrie 3 Navy Blue Yellow 2017 Nz Online D optical systems are in the marketplace,” says Bob Hardy, foot fitting manager at Clarks.
“At the moment, we use a system where the child stands on a footprint shape, on a plate, underneath which there are sensors that measure the foot and calculate the likely size and fitting, but that’s just a starting point.”
Shoes that are too small can squash toes or encourage bunion joints to develop. Those that are too big mean the child has to grip with his or her toes to keep them on, leading to a condition known as “claw toes”.
Are trainers acceptable?
Many parents still feel there’s a stigma attached to wearing trainers, but, in fact, they are an excellent form of footwear as long as they are made of leather and are properly fitted.
“Feet have 250,000 sweat glands and in the hot, dark, damp conditions of a synthetic trainer, fungal infections like athlete’s foot can thrive, so it’s important the shoes are properly fitted and have Nike Air Max Tailwind 8 20K8 Leather Shoes For Women Nz Sale uppers and breathable liners,” says Hardy.
“But trainers are designed for running about, which is, after all, what children should be doing much of the time.”
How much do children’s shoes cost?
Start rite shoes, which go up to an adult size six, are priced from 26, for a small, first pair size; a typical school shoe costs around 34. Clarks range starts at 20, for a pair in size three, and a boy’s shoe in an adult size nine costs 42.