Babies and toddlers do not need to wear shoes all the time. It is much better to allow the feet freedom of movement and fresh air. Socks or tights can be worn when it is cold.
Growing feet can easily be damaged with incorrect footwear, and this includes socks and tights as well as slippers, shoes, sandals, boots and wellingtons. It takes about 18 years for the foot to become fully formed, and if constant pressure is put on all the tiny bones as they are developing, it will lead to problems such as corns, bunions, ingrowing toenails and foot deformities. Some of these can only be corrected by surgery, and most of these problems are caused by badly fitted or badly designed footwear. The following points must be observed.
Buying Baby and
Shoes should be bought from a good shoe shop where the assistants are trained to measure and fit children’s shoes. The shoes must be fitted to leave 18 mm (4 in.) between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. There should be only 3 mm (4 in.) between the heel and the back of the shoe. The width is important as well as the length. The shoes should be wide enough for the toes to lie flat on the sole of the shoe. The heels must grip quite tightly but not rub the child’s foot.
A child’s feet grow rapidly. They should be checked every three months. The shoe must hold firmly to the child’s foot with laces, buckles, or velcro, and the fasteners should be adjustable. Leather is the best material for shoes. It is a natural product and allows the feet to ‘breathe’ (i.e., lets more air in and reduces sweat). Special footwear such as canvas shoes, trainers, plimsolls and wellingtons, which may be made entirely from synthetic materials, should not be worn for long periods as they make the feet perspire and encourage athlete’s foot. The sole of the shoe should be pliable to allow the foot to bend, and should also be non-slip. The heel should not be more than 1 cm high in.).
It is very unwise to allow children to wear second-hand shoes. The shoes will have taken on the shape of the previous owner and could deform the new owner’s feet.
These should be chosen as carefully as shoes. Although they should be warm and comfortable, they should not be too big or sloppy, but should be the correct size and fit. They should be fairly flat, and attach to the foot firmly but be fairly easy to put on and take off. They should be safe, with safe decorations, and hygienic, being cleanable or washable.
Wet weather and playwear
Wellingtons should be waterproof, large enough to take thicker socks, and fit snugly to the ankle and leg. They should not be too heavy, and have ridged soles. It is a good idea if the boots are brightly coloured or fluorescent so that the child can be seen in murky weather.
Shoes for playing in, such as trainers, sandals, or canvas play shoes, should be chosen and looked after in the same way as other shoes. They can be dangerous and unhealthy if allowed to get worn, dirty and damaged.
Socks and tights
These can cause just as much damage as badly fitting shoes. Many mothers would not allow their child to wear shoes that are too small, but are not so careful about socks.
The feet of the socks should be big enough without being stretched. There should be enough length for the toes and width for the foot. Socks soon shrink the heel of the sock should never slip to the sole of the foot.
Fine wool or cotton or a mixture of natural and synthetic fibres are better than all nylon or acrylic socks. Natural fibres absorb moisture and perspiration, but synthetic fibres do not, and help to cause athlete’s foot. Heels and toes may be strengthened with nylon.
Frequent washing and use of fabric softener should keep socks in good condition and extend their life. Buying several pairs of socks the same means that if one gets lost or damaged, the other one of the pair can be matched up with the rest.