What shoes should I put on my little one?
We all know how hard it is when our little ones start walking; we end up spending most of our time following them around ensuring they aren’t getting up to mischief. At Undefeeted Podiatry we understand how important it is that your little one is walking around with the best footwear for their growing feet. Our studio is constantly busy with little ones, coming in with a bag full of different shoes, with parents not knowing what is best for their child.
So we have put together a guide to help parents get through the all important questions around what shoes to purchase; big or small? Hard or soft? Laces or velcro? Leather or mesh?
Not yet walking but crawling
While your child is still sitting on the floor, crawling and starting to pull themselves up on furniture, it is important to let them go barefoot as much as possible with the use of socks or a leather moccasin style shoe, on colder days.
During the first 6 weeks of walking or cruising, footwear is not required as their feet are acclimatizing to feeling different surfaces under their feet. Unless they require a shoe for environmental protection, such as outdoor play or child care facilities.
New Walker / Assisted Walking / Cruising
When your little one is independent enough to walk on their own or walk around outside it’s time to promote them to the next style of shoes. This age varies from child to child between 10 - 18 months of age.
Choosing the right pair of shoes early on is crucial for the development of our little ones feet. Childrens feet start life so incredibly soft and pliable and therefore they need flexibility to develop as nature intended. Tight fitting socks, rigid soles and materials that don't move and can’t flex can hamper healthy development.
Super soft, unrestricting shoes, with a second layer to provide them with protection and comfort, ensuring a secure grip, is what we like to see coming into our studio.
Some brands we love to see include: Attipas / Bobux First Walker Range
Toddler / Walking / Running
When toddlers go forward into this exciting stage of walking independently, it’s inevitable they will stumble and lose their balance. They are trying to maintain stability and avoid falling over as best they can while they have a new view of the world. What we often observe with our early walking toddlers is a wide base of support. They will lift their feet higher off the ground to achieve ground clearance during the swing phase of gait. They also keep their arms high, again as a way to attempt to maintain stability with their new skill. We also notice they take shorter, faster steps and have a short swing phase.
All of this helps a toddler to maintain their balance, while during this time their feet are still continuing to grow and therefore its time for a new pair of shoes. It’s again time to step it up or the soft shoes worn previously will soon have wear marks so great the little toes may start to pop out of the holes worn in the shoes.
This age can vary however as a general guide we look at children 18 months onwards to have a confident gait pattern while starting to pick up the pace. This kind of activity requires a different approach in shoe design. A confident walker has a more developed, but still unique foot shape. An ideal shoe provides the best possible flexibility whilst adding grip for kids on the go.
When shopping for a shoe for this age group it is not necessary to look for shoe with arch support. During the early stages of development, fat padding is located directly under the arch of a child's foot. Therefore, any shoe with structural arch support will cause an increase in pressure under the arch causing irritation or blisters to the foot.
A number of brands may start to build in arch support however should your child require any additional support we advise a visit to our studio to have your little one assessed.
Some brands we love to see include: Bobux First i-Walk Range / Clarks / Salt Water Sandals
As a child matures and they progress towards an adult gait pattern, their balance improves and we see their base of support narrow. Their stride length increases and they develop a reciprocal arm swing. A more mature gait pattern is said to have been achieved at the age of 3 years with the presence of a heel strike, an increase in walking velocity and step length and reduced cadence.
These are the features we encourage parents to look for this age group and above:
- Fit well and comfortably with some room for growth - a thumb space
- Firm heel cup that fits around the heel with no gaps either side to hold the heel in place.
- Firm midsole, to support the developing arch
- A natural bend near the toes / ball of the foot to allow natural movement of toes while walking.
- Laces or velcro straps to hold the foot in the shoe and provide further support.
- A wider front than the heel to allow the toes to fit while following the natural shape of the foot.
- Breathable, light and durable materials.
Brands we love: ASICS / New Balance / Brooks / Clarks / Birkenstocks
Footwear in a growing champion should be changed every 6-12 months as children outgrown their shoes very quickly. If you’re unsure what footwear would best suit your little champion, book an appointment with one of our highly skilled Podiatrist’s at Undefeeted Podiatry.