Kids Shoes Guide
Kids Shoes - A Closer Look
The ideal shoe is very difficult to find and is often a matter of compromise, particularly with older children who are under the influence of fashion and peer group pressure. Footwear which is too large, too small, or does not fit properly, can cause life-long foot problems. These problems can easily be avoided by taking care with the type of shoe purchased and considering a few main points.
Adequate length and width All children’s footwear should be measured for length and width and fitted by an appropriately trained shoe fitter. If fitting is not available, or is refused, go elsewhere. Poorly-fitting footwear in young children could result in deformity, whereas in older children it may result in toenail and skin problems.
Heel stiffener. This is the part of the shoe at the back and sides of the heel. It stiffens the back of the shoe and stops the heel slipping out of the shoe. Along with a broad base of heel, it helps to prevent sprained ankles. It also helps to prevent claw toes, as a shoe which slips at the back will cause the toes to claw to keep the foot in the shoe.
Broad base of heel: This should be as wide as the heel to give stability, and be made of a shock absorbing material.
Height of heel: This can be increased as the child gets older but should be no more than 1.5 inches (4 cm).
Toe area shape: This should be foot shaped and not pointed. Pointed toe areas may result in the formation of bunions.
Retaining medium This is the term used to describe how the shoe is kept on the foot. Ideally it should be by laces, Velcro or ‘T’ bar, which acts like a seatbelt in a car, holding the shoe onto the foot. This helps to prevent toe deformities, as a poor retaining medium can allow the foot to slide up and down in the shoe and damage the toes or cause the toes to claw to help keep the shoe on. This is a particular problem with the current fashion of not tying shoelaces.
Upper Material Ideally this should be made of leather and have a Gore-Tex® liner if they are going to be subjected to prolonged wet conditions. Synthetic materials e.g. plastic, nylon and rubber can cause the foot to sweat excessively and increase the likelihood of athlete’s foot, verrucae and in-growing toenails.
Adequate depth of toe area This is particularly important in individuals with a big toe that curls up at the end and helps to avoid toenail problems.
Soling Material This should be of a slip-resistant, shock-absorbing material.
The main difference and characteristic of a child’s foot compared with that of an adult is that it grows. This means that the child can be at risk from certain foot and lower limb problems at different ages as the feet and lower limbs develop.
These problems are classed as:
•Causes Outside the foot (extrinsic)
•Causes within the foot (intrinsic)
Causes within the foot relate to the posture of the foot as it develops and this can make the foot appear flat-footed.
These conditions require expert examination and advice, and professional help should always be sought from your podiatrist if there are any concerns. The first indicator may be unusual wear on the shoe. The main cause outside the foot is ill-fitting footwear with the possibility of causing deformity. Also, as the foot and lower limb grow, they undergo various positional changes that may look like serious problems to the untrained eye, but may be just a matter of developmental change. These can include bow leg, knock knee, and toes pointing inwards or outwards. Some problems associated with growth are first indicated by pain in the foot, swelling, limping or a change in behaviour. A podiatrist or health professional should always see these. They can occur at any time during the growing years but each condition tends to occur within certain age bands.
It should be remembered that no two children are alike, even in the same family. If parents are concerned – for whatever reason – they should always seek professional advice, as it is better for the fears to be unfounded than to discover, often too late, that treatment was required.
These bits make up the strap that holds the shoe on the foot
These pieces make up the top half of the shoe known as the upper. Leather is the best material for the uppers of kids’ shoes. It’s flexible and soft but still hardwearing. It also lets air in but keeps moisture out, meaning feet stay cool and dry in most conditions. Nubuck and suede, increasingly found on modern children’s designs, are different types of leather and share most of its benefits. Avoid shoes with uppers made of other materials (synthetics or plastics) as these are often hard, inflexible and won’t allow your child’s feet to breathe.
A last is the mould around which a shoe is shaped. Good last design is vital as it creates the final shape of the shoe.
Rubber and polyurethane are the best materials for the soles of kids’ shoes. They’re both flexible and hardwearing, which is important to withstand the punishment most kids dish out. What’s more both materials can be moulded to create sole patterns that not only provide great grip but can also feature images to appeal to kids. Avoid kids’ shoes with soles made of resin or leather as both give very little grip that can lead to dangerous slips.
INSIDE THE SHOE
The inside of a shoe is just as important as the outside. The lining should be breathable, ideally made of leather or specially designed wicking fabrics, which transfer moisture away from the foot.
Many kids nowadays spend a lot of their time not in shoes at all, but in trainers. And it may surprise you to hear that good design and fitting are just as important .
TRAINERS NEED FITTING TOO
Stops and starts, running and jumping all put little feet under extra stress so correct fit is perhaps even more important in trainers than in shoes. You may think it’s not so important as trainers are generally softer than ordinary shoes but when you consider that even socks that are too tight can cause damage just think what a poorly fitted trainer could do.
SPECIALLY DESIGNED FOR KIDS
Most kids’ trainers (even the very biggest brands) are often just “shrunk down” versions of adults’ shoes. They don’t take into account the differences between kids’ feet and grown-ups’. This can mean they’re the wrong shape for your child’s feet. They may fit professional athletes but they’re unlikely to fit your child.
Children Foot health
The human foot is a highly complex structure, composed of 26 bones working together to enable us to walk and run, providing mobility and quality of life. In the newborn, the foot is made up of relatively soft and flexible cartilage that gradually converts to bone over time. During this period of development great care should be taken with your child’s feet as they can be at risk from injury and deformity due to ill-fitting footwear and abnormal activity.
A baby’s foot needs to be looked after very, very carefully. Soft cartilage can easily be bent out of shape in shoes that don’t fit without you or your child noticing – the layer of fat means your child will feel no pain while this is happening. And as a baby’s foot is so flexible, it can easily be squeezed into a badly fitting shoe, storing up trouble for the future. The correct fit stops this happening in the first place.
Top Tips for young feet
i.Wash children’s feet daily with soap and water and dry well, particularly between the toes.
ii.Check that the feet in baby grows and sleep suits are long enough and not cramping your child’s toes.
iii.Check the size of children’s socks especially if you tumble dry them as they can shrink and if they are too tight they can restrict growth.
iv.Only put pram shoes on your child’s feet for special occasions. They are difficult to size and are best avoided.
v.Use soft bootees for children prior to them walking. They keep the feet warm but do not cramp the toes or cause constriction round the ankle.
vi.Always get shoes for toddlers and early walkers fitted by a trained shoe fitter. Shoes should reflect the shape of a child’s foot i.e. triangular with a narrow heel and wide at the toes. Ignoring this feature may lead to deformity of the big toe.
vii.The use of baby walkers is best avoided as they encourage load bearing earlier than would occur naturally. Research has shown that they can be associated with a delay in normal walking and activities such as standing and crawling. The use of baby walkers is banned in Canada.
First Shoes for Crawling
As parents know, most babies don’t stay put for very long. The world is a fascinating place, particularly if it’s all new to you. So what happens if that amazing thing is just out if reach? You learn to crawl, that’s what.
LET’S ROCK AND ROLL: By about four months most babies start to rock and roll, first from their side to their back, then back again. Soon after they’ll start to lie with their upper body supported on one or both hands - all the better to see the world around them. Next they’ll learn to sit. At first they can stay in place when you put them down for just a few seconds before tumbling back, but later they’ll be able to sit up for themselves.
OLYMPIC CRAWL: Next, babies will learn that by pushing down with hands and raising their upper body, they can pull themselves along. Later, little legs join in too and then they’re off. At high speed too – they can crawl 400m in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea. Of course not all babies are the same and forego crawling in favour of a rather curious bottom shuffling.
BABY-WALKERS: Forget them. Your babies will stand when they’re ready and baby-walkers won’t make it any sooner. In fact badly adjusted baby-walkers may even hinder development as they mean your child will have to stretch to reach the ground and won’t need to learn to balance independently.
EARLY FIRST SHOES: “Cruising” comes between crawling and walking. Having pulled themselves up on the furniture children slide their hands to one side, then their feet, which allows them to move their whole body. To stay upright they will always keep either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand in place.
At first they will crawl when confronted with a gap between furniture. But as they grow they learn to cross by moving their feet into the gap and letting go to totter to the next support.
TIME FOR FIRST SHOES: Most children learn to walk aged between 9 and 18 months, depending on the development of the required muscular strength. But don’t hurry them or become anxious - your child is an individual and will walk when they are ready. After all, these are just the first steps on a very long road.
FIRST SHOES: Once your child can take a few steps unaided then he or she is ready for that first pair of real shoes. When choosing your child’s first shoes the first thing to look for is a trained fitter. Then make sure the shoes have these features:
•Close cropped soles to prevent tripping
•Room for movement and growth built in
•Soft leather uppers for cool comfortable feet
•Lightweight, flexible sole to aid walking development
•Whole and half sizes and a choice of widths to find the right fit
•Fully adjustable fastenings
•Padded ankle for protection and support
Up and running
At this age most kids learn to run and do little standing jumps. Once they reach this stage watch out, as you’ll need shoes that can take some punishment and still look good.
Our recommendations for infant shoes:
•Room to grown built in without sacrificing fit
•Made to follow the unique shape of children’s feet
•Whole and half sizes and a choice of widths
•Quality leather uppers for comfort and protection
•Lightweight, flexible sole for comfort and grip
Running and Jumping
As your child grows, you will pass many other milestones together, first birthday, first words, and many others. But while all this is happening your child’s feet and their walking will be developing all the time.
By the time your child is a fully-fledged toddler they will walk very differently from when they took those first steps.
•Arms are no longer used for balance so they can be used to pick up (and throw down!) things that catch the eye
•Knees and feet now point forward as the hip joints are fully in place
•Ankles and knees are now being flexed, reducing the shock that leads to head movement and, in turn, tumbles
•Walking is still flat footed (which is what can make can make toddlers look clumsy) so light, flexible soles are still vital