As children’s feet grow, they change and develop over time. The foot contains 26 bones, but a newborn baby has feet largely made of cartilage. As your child grows, that hardens into bone that does not finish developing and hardening until he or she child is around 18. That makes it imperative to get your child good shoes from the start, so the feet will develop properly.
1. The younger your child, the faster their feet grow.
Your child’s feet changes the most during their first three years. During that time, the average child’s feet will grow 12 shoes sizes! Consequently, most pediatricians recommend having a toddler’s feet measured every three months to ensure their shoes fit them properly. If the shoes are too small, they can permanently damage your child’s feet. They can, for instance, cause the toes to become deformed. Many parents will have to buy new shoes every three or six months. After your child reaches the age of four, though, the growth rate of their feet starts to slow down. After that age, you will likely only have to replace your child’s shoes once every 8 – 12 months.
2. Babies don’t need shoes.
Shoes and booties can restrict movement and keep feet from developing normally. So long as your child is inside, they should be allowed to go barefoot. As your child learns to walk, going barefoot will let the feet develop their strength, grow normally, and develop the grasping ability of the toes.
3. The feet are the body’s foundation.
Many doctors believe that many of the problems and pains plaguing adults’ feet are caused by either foot injuries sustained during childhood or by poorly fitting children’s shoes. Feet support the whole body, so problems affecting them can cause problems with walking or posture or even some types of back pain. Since your small child’s feet are practically all cartilage, poorly fitting or made shoes can warp their feet and cause problems that last throughout their lives.
4. Children need different arch support than adults do.
The arch doesn’t really develop until your child grows a little older. For the first two years of your child’s life, the arch is barely visible. Many young children have a “fat” pad in the arch area of the foot, which makes it appear as if your child has a flat foot. They really don’t, because the “fat” pad does support the arch. Babies and toddlers therefore do not need shoes with arch supports built into them. After the age of three, though, they will need shoes with arch support. Sometimes, your child’s foot will turn in or out because their arch support isn’t fully developed. This is normal – but if your child says their feet hurt, they should be taken to a doctor.