Congratulations, your baby has learnt to walk around at home with little or no support, and enjoys being outside. It’s now time to delve into the vast and confusing world of children’s footwear and select a supportive pair of shoes for your growing toddler.
A Perfect Fit
Poorly fitting shoes can actually affect your infant’s foot bone development and muscle functionality. As little feet grow rapidly, it’s important to have your baby’s foot size measured and to purchase new footwear every quarter of the year.
A general rule is to ensure that there is enough room for you to squeeze your little finger between your child’s heel and the heel of the shoe. There should be wiggle room in the toe-box for the shoes to move and rest comfortably, without being too big.
According to the Royal College of Paediatrics, early walking babies should wear lightweight and flexible shoes that allow for natural foot movement and flexibility. Choose soft, breathable materials such as leather, cloth or mesh—your fast-moving tot will not enjoy the restrictions of clunky shoes—and seek out a toe-box that is wide and naturally follows the shape of the foot.
There should be flexibility at the ball of the foot, but the shoes should have a stiff, padded heel to hold both the shoe and ankle upright. Options that lace up or have Velcro fastenings will ensure a snug fit and will be easier to put on. You should also check that the bottom of the shoe has traction to prevent your little one from slipping and skidding. Go for non-slip leather or rubber soles, with grooves or bumps that will give your baby good stability.
Suitable and Safe
Once you’ve settled on the perfect pair of shoes, watch your baby closely for any signs that they are struggling to walk or that their shoes are uncomfortable. Check the feet frequently for any redness or indentations on the toes.
Your toddler will likely need supportive walking shoes from the age of one—if your baby is crawling indoors, woollen socks, socktops, booties or soft pre-walking shoes are enough to keep their feet warm and protect them from rough surfaces. Wider fitting, soft shoes will give your pre-walking baby the most comfort and flexibility.
This feature was originally published in the summer edition of Healthy Child with Dr Ranj Singh, which you can also read here!