One of the big milestones we all look forward to as parents is our little one starting to learn to walk. However, before you rush out for those first shoes it is worth taking the time to consider what is going on in those precious feet.
Each little foot is amazing, there are 26 bones, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments plus an array of delicate blood vessels, nerves and tissue fibres all working together to control its movement. Bones start out as soft cartilage and it isn’t until the child reaches adulthood that the foot is fully developed. This means a child’s foot is very susceptible to moulding and damage and the right footwear is vital.
In fact, medical experts worldwide now agree that the less time a child spends in shoes the better and that we leave it as long as possible before putting our new walker into their first shoes. Barefoot walking is the very best thing for healthy foot development; however, it isn’t always practical in our cold and wet climate. So when you are finally ready for shoes, what should you look for?
A child’s shoe should be lightweight, with a flexible sole to mimic barefoot walking. A wide toe box is important to give lots of wriggle room. The shoe should be shaped like a child’s foot which isn’t just a scaled down version of an adult’s foot but much more triangular in shape.
Even when they have shoes encourage your child to be barefoot as much as possible. Children instinctively and naturally want to be barefoot ‐ how many of us have despaired over the discarded socks through the house or shoes lost when thrown out of the pushchair? So whenever the ground is safe enough let them roam as nature intended and celebrate their barefoot instincts!