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How to Choose the Right Shoe for Your Child

Posted by Happifeet Podiatry on June 19, 2018 at 4:35 AM

Helpful tips for parents of kids under the age of 3.

Written by one of Happifeet Podiatry’s Senior Podiatrists, Tram Phan (a mother of 2 boys and podiatrist for over 14 years, helping patients of all ages)

Why is it so important to wear correctly fitted shoes as a child?

Each human foot comprises of 26 bones. As a child, these bones are mostly cartilage; as the foot grows that cartilage begins to form its final shape and starts to harden and become bone. To put it simply, your child’s foot is very mouldable and adaptable to whatever shoe shape you put their foot into. If the shoes are too narrow and the wrong shape your child’s soft bones will mould into that narrow shape. If the shoes are too stiff, the muscles will learn to develop differently as they adapt to that stiff shoe. Having the wrong shoes on your child’s foot can lead to abnormal walking patterns like tip-toe-walking, pigeon toe-walking and toe deformities.

Not every pair of feet is the same. Some will need extra depth and height in the shoe because they have a “fleshy/chubby” foot while others need a wider shoe at their toes because their toes splay outwards.

Overall, studies have shown that good quality footwear positively affects the running and walking gait of children. So it is best to give your child the best start in life with good quality shoes. Go for Quality rather than quantity. They just need 2 types of footwear; a fully enclosed shoe and a sandal. These should be checked every 3 months and replaced as soon as they grow out of them so that their toes don’t buckle and curl up at the end of the shoe.

So how do you know which shoes are good for your child?

Firstly, barefoot is best for young children as they need to learn to adapt to different surfaces and develop their proprioception (which is an awareness of their feet in relation to the rest of their body and its surroundings). This helps with co-ordination, muscle strength and good arch development.

So if they need to put on a pair of shoes, it will make the most sense to choose a pair of shoes that will allow the feet to develop the same proprioception and normal development.

The following are a few things to keep in mind when choosing shoes for young children:

1. Most young children’s toes splay out so the shoe shape needs to be like a fan and also splay out so that their toes can wriggle freely.

2. When it comes to the soles of their shoes or sandals, they need to feel the ground so less is more. Have a good material for protection from the hot concrete and rocks at the park but most importantly have a flexible soft sole so that it can be folded in half in your hand.

3. No restrictions around the ankle. Nothing that will pinch or stop them from moving naturally in their shoes.

If you have any further questions or concerns, you can email the team at Happifeet Podiatry – Shoe Shop & Podiatry (Middle Park & Springfield Lakes) on the details below. We are more than happy to help.

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