Growing feet are developing feet.
The foot is a complex structure composed of 26 bones. These bones support the entire body, adapt to uneven surfaces and absorb shock. Baby’s foot has more cartilage than bone. Over time, the cartilages will harden into adult bones. Although, the structure of the foot develops fully by the first 2 years, the bones themselves will not fully develop and harden until around the age of 18. This is why it is crucial to wear good shoes early on, so that the bones are allowed to develop naturally.
The younger the foot, the faster it grows.
The biggest changes in foot growth occur in the first 3 years. On average, a child will grow up to 12 sizes until around the age of 3! This is why pediatricians recommend measuring your toddler’s foot at least once every three months to ensure that their shoes fit properly. Shoes that are too small can deform the toes and permanently damage the foot.
Kids’ feet handle more stress than adults’ feet.
Children’s feet handle about 3 times more stress than the average adult foot. This is due to children’s high activity levels and greater proportion of high impact activities compared with adults. Because of the high stress that a child’s foot endures, children should wear shoes with good shock absorption, a well-made foot bed, and durable soles. Flexibility is also very important in children’s shoes; it allows them to strengthen the muscles on their own!
Feet are the foundation for your whole body.
Pediatricians argue that most foot problems and pains in adulthood come from ill-fitting shoes or poor foot experiences during childhood. It is important to keep in mind that the foot is NOT a separate entity, but an integral body part that supports the entire skeletal structure. Also, almost all of the bones in the foot are cartilage until about age 5. Ill-fitting shoes put one at risk for injury or deformity later in life. Many problems with posture, walking, and even back pain can be associated with ill-fitting or poorly made shoes.
Shoes affect sweaty feet, and sweaty feet affect shoes.
Children’s feet sweat a lot. Two to three times more than an adult’s foot! This is one reason why kids are known to wear down shoes faster than adults. Sweating in a shoe day after day (especially if they only have one pair of shoes) will wear on the soft leather lining on the inside of the shoe. After months, it will cause the actual structure of the shoe to break down, literally from the inside out. Most importantly, sweaty feet are more likely to catching various feet fungus and infections. For these reasons, it’s important to have a breathable shoe that allows the moisture and heat from your child’s foot to escape, letting cooler air in. Clean cotton socks also help to keep feet dry and fungus free. If a shoe looks worn from the inside after only a couple months, try changing out your kid’s socks twice a day.
Shoe materials make a difference.
The material should be anti-allergic, soft, gentle and breathable. Don’t go with shoes that have dyes in them because they can damage a child’s foot.
Pediatricians advise parents to avoid plastics, as they do not breathe or stretch, and they can easily cause blistering and sweaty feet.
Too small or too large; why sizing matters
Shoes that are too small or too large are troublesome and even unsafe. Shoes that are too small hinder proper foot growth, decrease circulation, cause blisters, ingrown toenails, and just plain hurt! Other than being uncomfortable, shoes that are too big can cause blisters on your child’s heel as well as prevent them from being able to grip the ground properly when running or climbing, which may cause tripping, risking a serious injury.
Soft sole vs. hard sole
There are two opposing opinions regarding soft sole and hard sole shoes. Soft sole enthusiasts argue that there is such thing as a shoe with too much structure. If a child wears a shoe with built in arch support, a heavy solid sole, and lots of structure, the need for the child’s own muscles to work to find balance and strength is diminished. Their feet rely on the strength of the shoe, which impedes the development of muscles in the foot and ankle. Soft sole supporters also argue that a child should be able to feel the ground under his or her feet, as this allows for better balance and grip.
Supporters of hard sole shoes say that shoes with structure help to prevent foot problems such as flat feet, pronated feet (the falling in of an ankle) and the turning in our out of feet. They also argue that a hard sole serves as more protection from harmful objects like glass or sharp rocks, especially if the child is outside or on the playground.