When you’re choosing shoes for your child’s feet, you need to consider a lot of factors. You might be tempted to use hand-me-downs from an older child or choose shoes based on fashion, but price and style shouldn’t be your only considerations.
The choice of shoes for your child has a profound impact on the development of their feet. Choosing the wrong shoes can lead to foot problems in later years. Pediatric foot care is an important part of ensuring a child’s proper development. The providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine explain more about how to choose the right footwear for your child.
Why footwear matters
The type of shoes that you choose can affect and even change your child’s gait, which refers to how they walk. It’s important to allow your child’s foot to move and bend naturally, especially when your children are still very young.
Some studies suggest that your child’s gait is fully formed by age three, even though the bones of the feet continue developing until they are 18-20.
The best kind of shoes for young children
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children shouldn’t begin wearing shoes until they begin walking. Newborns in particular don’t ever need to wear shoes.
The best kind of shoes you want to get for young children have flexible soles. Although as adults, we think of good shoes as having supportive soles, maybe with adequate soft padding in the soles. But these types of shoes are inappropriate for young children.
In addition to having flexible soles, your child’s shoes should have low-skid or non-skid soles as well.
The types of shoes you should avoid
Children who have just begun walking should wear soft-soled shoes. The kinds of shoes that you should avoid for newly walking children include:
- Flip flops
- Shoes with Velcro® straps
- CrocsTM (or other similar shoes that don’t stay securely on your child’s foot)
- Shoes that serve no function other than fashion
- Shoes with any type of elevated heel (even a small one)
While going barefoot is good for a child’s foot development, you may wish to have your child wear shoes to prevent injuries to their foot, such as stubbed toes, splinters, or broken toenails. If your child has suffered from any of these types of injuries, especially on a frequent basis, they may be safer wearing appropriate shoes even when indoors.
Why you shouldn’t pass down shoes between children
Shoes can seem like a poor investment for children. They don’t wear them for very long, so you might wonder if it’s really such a problem to save them for younger children to wear as well.
But shoes conform to your child’s foot, which is a highly individual factor, even for very young children. Each child has an individual gait pattern, which can affect the type and amount of wear and tear on their shoes. If you have another child wear the same shoes, their gait could be altered as a result of wearing the shoes.
If you would like a consultation regarding your child’s proper foot development, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our providers would love to help take care of your entire family’s feet and make sure your whole family is healthy.