Article written by Sarah Youngson, ProMed Podiatrist
Being a mother myself I am more aware of the never-ending concern over my child’s development and progress and overall health. As my son has recently been learning to walk, run, jump and climb in the last few months, I have now begun the endless cycle of new footwear. Children’s feet change immensely in size, width and shape as they develop from infancy to adolescence. On average boy’s feet finish growing at around aged 15 and girls at around aged 13 but this can vary considerably.
Here are 8 important things to look out for when looking for a new pair of shoes for school-aged children:
- Ensure there is approximately 1.5cm between the end of the toe and the end of the shoe
- Assess size when your child is standing
- Make sure socks are not too tight or too lose
- Ensure shoes are flexible around the widest part of the foot (where the toes bend)
- The middle part and the back of the shoe should be sturdy
- Ask your child if they are comfortable. The shoes should not cause any discomfort. If they complain, look for other shoes.
- They should be light-weight
- Check and check again! Constantly check if the shoes still fit properly. A good time to do this is a week before the start of each term.
Toddlers generally benefit from more light-weight, flexible, thin-soled shoes. The same fitting principles as above apply however, unlike school aged children, shoe-fit should be checked more often as toddler’s feet tend to change more rapidly, are more flexible and are at higher risk of toes curling under.
Children can suffer from a variety of foot and lower limb issues, unique to childhood. Their biomechanics change considerably as they grow and develop. Common issues affecting children’s feet include: heel pain, ingrown toe nails, rolling in, recurrent ankle sprains, in-toeing or pigeon toed walking, tip-toe walking and plantar warts.
How to know when it’s time to take your child to the Podiatrist:
- If they are complaining of foot or lower leg pain
- Frequent falling or tripping
- Regression in their coordination, balance, walking or development
- Delayed walking
- Difficulty getting properly fitting shoes
- Painful, thick or ingrown nails
- Warts on the bottom of feet or around toes
- Limping or tip-toe walking
- Pigeon-toed walking
- If you have any concerns about their foot shape or walking style