A Podiatrist's Guide To Choosing The Right Shoes For Your Child’s Stage Of Development
There are some stunning kids’ shoes on the market - some so cute we’re imagining the little outfits we could make with them before our kids even try them on! We all love sparkles and mini-me booties, but the sad truth is that most of today’s kids’ shoes aren’t designed with the health of kids’ feet in mind.
As a podiatrist, I pay close attention to the footwear my patients are wearing. With toddlers, in particular, I see unsuitable shoes all too often. Shoes with little flexibility in the sole and forefoot area, a rigid structure or raised heels are a real concern with toddlers learning to walk as they can cause them to bounce and tip forward.
Depending on their stage of development, your child’s feet have their own unique footwear requirements. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you choose the best shoes for your little one’s future foot health.
Newborns and babies who are sitting, crawling and starting to cruise.
At this developmental stage, children’s feet are super soft and chubby. Their bones have not begun to ossify, so they’re very pliable, delicate and vulnerable to damage if put into unsuitable shoes.
There isn’t really any need for shoes at this stage other than to protect baby’s feet from the cold, so your baby’s feet are best left barefoot as much as possible.
Shoe choice: For this stage of development, babies are best suited in a lightweight, flexible shoe with a smooth, seamless interior. This will keep their feet comfortable as they learn how to move without rubbing or hindering their foot development.
The Bobux Soft Sole range is perfect for babies at this stage of development. Made from breathable, flexible leather and suede, Soft Soles are more like a second-skin than a structured shoe - perfect for delicate feet!
Learning to Walk + First Walkers
Babies learning to walk with assistance
This is an exciting stage for children and parents alike. Your child has taken their first steps and they’re now propping themselves up on furniture as they cruise around the home. At this stage, the foot will be growing very quickly - up to two whole sizes (16mm) in a year! And gradually, the shape of the fully grown foot will start to form. As a child spends more time on their feet, their soft cartilage will begin to ossify, turning into bone and bony tissue. So, there’s a lot of development taking place during this stage, so it’s important your child’s feet are free to develop naturally.
Shoe choice: Babies at this stage need shoes that are flexible, lightweight and durable that mimic the movement of barefoot walking. They should have a secure, functional and comfortable fastening system such as a strap closure that ensures the shoe stays on the foot and can be adjusted to your child’s unique foot shape.
The Bobux Xplorer range is the best shoe choice for this stage of development.
Babies and toddlers new to unassisted walking
This stage of development is marked by your little one officially becoming an independent walker - even if they have a wobble now and then! As a first walker, your child’s feet are constantly changing and spreading in width. You’ll notice the features of their feet becoming more defined, although their bones aren’t yet completely ossified and their arches not yet developed.
Shoe choice: Now that they’e spending most of their time on their feet, your child’s shoes will need to have added durability while still providing the flexibility needed for natural movement.Fastenings such as strap closures or zips are essential to making sure your child’s feet are secure and comfortable as they become more confident walkers.
The Bobux Step Up range is ideal for first walkers.
Toddlers walking confidently, capable of a wide range of activity
By this stage, your child is enjoying a vast amount of activity - and they’re getting more confident by the day as they run and play at kindergarten or preschool.
Secondary bone centres that develop at around four years of age are now fusing, their ‘puppy fat’ is beginning to disappear and the arch of their foot is becoming more visible and functional. Their foot growth rate is beginning to slow, to one size increase (8mm) a year - which means they can wear their favourite shoes for longer!
Shoe choice: With stronger feet and a more rigorous range of activity, toddlers at this stage need durable shoes that can withstand a battering! But beyond that, their feet are still developing so shoes need to be appropriate for your child’s foot type, shape and their activities. A secure fastening is important, and ideally, you’ll get them fitted for shoes regularly by atrained professional.
The Bobux I-Walk range is perfect for active toddlers.
School-aged kids engaging in high-impact activities
Once they reach school, your child’s feet have begun to take on a mature adult-like shape. Their feet are much more dexterous and their arch is becoming more defined. Their feet are strong and lean, but it’s as important now as ever to make sure their development is being nurtured in a pair of healthy shoes.
Shoe choice: Kids are at play nearly all their waking hours. With this extreme level of activity, their shoes need to be seriously durable and protect their feet from the impact of hard surfaces. Even though it might seem like they have the energy and coordination of a professional athlete, it’s important to remember their feet are still developing, so their shoes need to be flexible and lightweight so their feet can move naturally.
The Bobux Kid+ range was designed specifically for older, active kids.
Taking a one-size-fits-all approach won't pay off when it comes to kids’ shoes. If you want to ensure their feet are healthy now and in the long-term, it’s crucial that you consider their stage of development when choosing shoes for your child. It’s not about what looks good or their age, it’s about their developmental stage and every child is different.
Having healthy feet is vital to a child’s development and unresolved problems can become major when they reach adulthood. If you are at all concerned about your child’s foot development, talk to a trusted podiatrist with paediatric experience.
Otherwise, the best thing you can do for your kids’ feet is let them go barefoot whenever practical, and make sure they’re wearing the right shoes for their stage of development.
Bobux shoes are specifically designed to nurture children’s feet throughout every stage of their development. Shop the 2018 Bobux Collection online today.