A child’s foot is constantly growing and changing. In their first 11 years a child’s foot can grow 34 sizes! Frequent changes in shoes and socks are required to make sure they have the right fit. Badly fitting shoes and socks can result in permanent damage to a child’s foot so it’s very important to keep a check on this.
6 Months- 2 Years
During this period a child’s foot is at its softest and most malleable. Much of the foot is still cartilage and only a few bones have formed. Barefoot time is very important during this stage as it helps the child develop their balance and the strength in their feet. It also helps with their cognitive development. When going barefoot isn’t a practical option, look for a shoe that attaches to their foot that has a soft flexible sole. Brands such as Skeanie and Attipas are ideal.
2 Years- 6 Years
The individual bones in the feet are well and truly forming at this age and the structure of the child’s foot has begun to develop. The shape of the foot will have become quite stable and the arches will start to form at around 4/5 years.
Shoes for a child in this age bracket should be durable and lightweight with a semi-flexible sole. The heel counter of the shoe should be firm and supportive and the shoe should always attach to the foot with laces/buckle/Velcro close. Runner’s such as Asics and NB are great little shoes for this age group.
6 Years- 16 Years
By this stage the bones in the feet have fully formed and the arches have formed. This is when the child benefits from a more supportive and stable shoe. As children in this age group spend a considerable amount of time running and jumping the shoe also needs to be cushioned enough to provide shock absorption. Look for shoes that have a firm heel counter, a shoe that only bends where the toes bend and a shoe that attaches to the foot. Check the weight of the shoe to make sure it’s not too heavy and ask about the cushioning in the shoe. From a podiatrist’s perspective the Ascent range of school shoes tick all the boxes. And even better, they have a six month outsole warranty to make sure their product lasts the distance.
By age sixteen the feet are fully developed. There are 26 bones in each foot and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments that need support. When at school/sport/work it’s important that the shoes you wear are supportive and stable enough to take care of the feet. Always wear a shoe that is suitable for the activity you will be doing while wearing them. Good brands to look for in this age bracket include Ascent (school/work/safety shoes), Asics, New Balance and Brooks.
You have one pair of feet to last you a lifetime. It’s never too early to start looking after them and good footwear plays an important role over the course of your life. Don’t fall into the trap of wearing cheap unsupported shoes for times when you’ll be on your feet for long periods. If you look after your feet, they’ll look after you!