Should Children Wear Shoes?
As a Podiatrist I commonly get asked is “my child just started walking, should they wear shoes?”
Shoes come in all shapes and sizes these days, and with this variability it can become confusing to decide what shoes are best for your child.
This blog will answer that question and help you understand what shoes will be suitable for your child.
Is my child's foot normal?
Your child's feet and lower limb are constantly developing as they grow.
Their strength increases as they start to sit, crawl, stand, walk and run.
As they achieve each of these milestones, the structures in their body, including their feet, are constantly changing shape, getting longer and stronger.
Therefore, it is important to let nature take its course and to not disturb any of the steps in this process.
The new walker
A child typically starts walking around 10 to 18 months old.
When they take their first steps they tend to have an uncontrolled walking pattern; holding their arms above their head, keeping their knees straight, and slapping their feet on the floor.
The more they are given the opportunity to practice their walking pattern, the better control they have. This control comes from the development of their muscles and bones.
To allow this development to occur, it is recommended that children wear no shoes inside when they begin walking.
Should my child wear shoes outdoors?
Children love the outdoors and it is important to allow your children to play outside to give them the opportunity to progress through their development.
The environment in the outdoors is very different from indoors, for example:
- There can be sharp items on the ground, such as glass or rocks.
- On a warm summer’s day the paths can become very hot.
- Some playgrounds are surrounded by bark chips that can be uncomfortable to walk on.
Therefore, during outside play it is recommended that children wear shoes to protect their feet from the environment.
What shoes should my toddler wear for outdoor play?
The features to look for in shoes when they first begin walking are:
- Thin soles to allow the feet to absorb the ground reaction forces.
- Low and flat shoes with no heel to toe drop, this allows all types of play and does not enhance any unnecessary movements.
- Soft and breathable materials to allow natural foot function.
- Flexibility, the shoe should easily bend at the toe joints.
- There should be a thumbs width at the end of the shoe.
- In terms of width all of the toes should be comfortable and not compressed. Pointy shoes are discouraged as they can compromise leverage.
As every child is individual and unique, this is only an approximate guide.
There may be some circumstances where different shoes are recommended for your child and it is important to follow advice from health professionals in regards to this.
We Are Here To Help
If you are unsure what shoes your child should be wearing, the first thing to do is book an appointment with one of our Podiatrists at Complete Podiatry for a comprehensive assessment.
Once this is done, we will develop a structured management plan that outlines our best advice for how to help your child return to doing the things they love to do.
Just call us on 8330 0004, I'll love to talk to you about how we can help you build an amazing life from the feet up!
Yours in helping to build amazing lives from the feet up,
Podiatrist at Complete Podiatry