Meet our resident 'Podiatrist Steve'
Our children's feet are important - one pair has to last a lifetime!! We chatted to our podiatrist 'Steve' about what to look for and for some general guidelines...
Having kids means experiencing a lot of FIRSTS:
- Their first smile
- Their first word (probably Dada)
- The first time they rolled over
- The first time you realise they have a temper (probably from the other side of the family!)
- The first time they pull themselves up on furniture and you realise that your house isn’t really baby proofed.
- Then their first step………which is extremely exciting until you realise that you can no longer go for a coffee or dinner without having to get up and down 20-30 times per minute!
Anyway, their first step…….. is this the time that they should be wearing shoes?
Probably. Just like ‘tummy time’ letting your child be barefooted for periods of time as they grow is crucial in their development. It helps with spatial awareness and proprioceptive feedback.
If a child has bare feet all the time will they develop quicker and become extraordinary?
They are all extraordinary. Trying to fit kids into percentiles or categories due to age, I’ll leave that for other people to determine but I will give you some guidelines I think are relevant for your consideration (disclaimer, your kids might not fit into any of these categories and that is fine, if you have any concerns then please consult your healthcare professional)
The Non Movers
Newborn babies’ feet are adorable, they are soft, flexible, smell lovely and consist of mainly cartilage with little bone formation at present. So if your newborn is wearing shoes then they should mimic these qualities; soft soled, not tight and mainly for protection, warmth and style!
As discussed before, ‘tummy time’ of their feet is important for development. However, the little monsters/darlings are on the move which can cause friction as they use their feet to explore. Don’t be surprised if any blistering happens around the big toe area and or around the nail. If this happens, relax, put a plaster on the toe and monitor it for signs of infection. If this happens please consult your doctor.
Again, their foot is still extremely flexible and any footwear should reflect this.
The Furniture Walkers
Get rid of all your furniture and hope they stay in the crawling stage for a little longer but if that is not an option then you will probably begin to pay more attention to their flat, flexible, waddling feet. This is when shoes become a little more important, mainly for protection. Again you want a lightweight flexible shoe that is not tight or restrictive. These little feet can have rapid growth spurts and you should get into a habit of checking were the big toe is in relation to the end of the shoe. You are aiming for a thumb nail to half a thumb nails width between the toe and end of the shoe.
Dare I say it, the walking like a drunkard
Crawling was so last year. Unlike a drunkard they are finding confidence on their feet and wanting to go everywhere unless you have another child in your arms, bags of shopping or something else, then they want to be carried.
Please be aware of their walking and foot position/posture but that’s probably about it, there is still a lot of bone and soft tissue development to happen.
If you see anything that looks glaringly unsymmetrical or if they consistently complain of pain or discomfort then it’s probably worth seeking a professional opinion.
Up and running (everywhere!)
This would be a good time to transition into a ‘hard’ soled shoe if you haven’t already. Lightweight, good fitting (same thumb nail rule applies) yet still flexible through the toe area of the shoe is a good guide.
If you notice that your child has trouble with keeping up with kids of a similar age, tripping or falling more than you think should happen or is complaining more than usual of a consistent pain then please see a healthcare professional.
Feet are a miracle of engineering and deserve to be monitored and considered related to the stage and activities that are being asked of them. Sometimes though, it’s nice to have them checked out just to put your mind at rest. If in doubt, ask!