Preparing Little Feet For School
Summer holidays are nearly over, and soon the back to school rush will begin! Getting ready for another school year is always a busy time. There’s so much to organise such as uniforms, stationery, lunchboxes and labelling everything for when forgetful minds leave things behind!
With so much going on, sometimes new shoes are the last item on a busy parent’s to-do list. But as the school years are a critical time in the development of your child’s feet, it’s important to make sure their shoes offer the right support.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to choose the correct shoes and make sure they’re fitted properly to promote healthy foot development.
Why are shoes so important for young feet?
Your child’s feet can grow up to 17 sizes by the time they finish primary school – that’s a lot of growing! Incorrectly fitted shoes can hamper bone and muscle development, leading to problems down the track.
Problems caused by ill-fitting shoes aren’t just limited to the feet – the entire lower body compensates for a problematic gait. Hip and knee problems, back pain, and even some nervous system issues can be traced back to problems with the feet.
What is the best time to buy shoes for your child?
Finding the right time to buy shoes for your child can be tricky. If you buy shoes too early, your child could have grown by the time school comes around. Shop too late, and the items you want might be sold out.
A few weeks before school starts is the best time to shop. Any summer growth spurts will be finished, and your child will have some time to wear in the shoes before committing to them for 6 hours a day.
If you can, buy shoes at the end of the day when the feet are swollen – this ensures the shoe will have enough room for your child’s feet at all times.
What to look for in a children’s shoe
There are a number of factors that come into play when fitting a shoe correctly. Our podiatrists at the Brunswick and Sandringham Foot Clinics recommend the following:
- Measure your child’s feet to ensure their shoes have enough room to move.
- The big toe should be a thumb’s width from the wall of the shoe.
- Look for shoes with a rigid sole that only bends at the toes.
- Ensure the shoe is wide enough for the toes to stretch and move freely – no crowding.
- Buy closed-toe shoes made from leather for the best protection of your child’s feet.
- Make sure the shoe’s heel is stiff and high.
Signs that your child’s shoes don’t fit
Children’s feet grow quickly. Their shoe size may need to be updated every few months. If your child’s shoes are too tight, they can affect your child’s ability to walk and cause problems such as ingrown toenails, clawed toes, and gait problems.
Some tell-tale signs your child’s shoes don’t fit include:
- The big toe touches the front of the shoe.
- Shoes are starting to bulge on either side.
- There is redness or swelling on the foot or toes.
- Your child tells you their feet hurt or ache.
If you are concerned about your child’s feet, Melbourne Podiatrist’s Brunswick and Sandringham Foot Clinics, can help diagnose and treat potential foot problems early.
Tips for children’s foot health
- Check your child’s foot growth at the start of each term.
- If your child wears orthotics, take them to each shoe fitting.
- Feet aren’t always the same size – check your child’s feet individually!
- Take the same socks your child will wear at school when you shop for shoes.
- Avoid handing down shoes from one child to another – each child has their own unique foot shape and walking pattern.
- If you are unsure or concerned about your child’s shoes, seek professional advice from a podiatrist.
Where to get further advice
If you want to ensure your child’s shoes are right for their feet, consult a podiatrist who can also check your child’s feet for potential mobility issues.