The human foot is a very complex structure of 26 bones and 35 joints, held together by a plethora of ligaments. Because of its complexity, the foot takes quite a bit of time to strengthen. Between the ages of eight and eighteen months, most toddlers begin to use these muscles and ligaments, learning how to walk. This is when many parents consider purchasing toddler shoes for their child. When children first begin to walk, most of the time they are flat footed or their feet turn inwards. This is due to the lack muscle strength and ligament stiffness needing to catch up to the other developments. Flat-footedness in children nearly always improves as the feet strengthen.
When a child is learning to walk, their brain receives important sensory information from the soles of their feet. Therefore, toddler shoes that have particularly hard and stiff soles can make walking more difficult. It is important to let your child go barefoot regularly to help them develop balance, coordination and posture. Toddlers don’t need shoes until they have been walking for a couple of months, and then only to protect their feet from sharp objects. When buying shoes for your child, it is necessary to get them professionally fitted (including measurements for foot length and width.) Children’s feet grow very quickly and their shoe size may need to be updated every few months. If you purchase shoes that are too tight- this can hinder their walking ability and cause problems such as ingrown toenails and bunions.
The type of shoe you should be looking for should meet the following criteria:
- Firm, comfortable fit (both lengthways and widthways)
- Rounded toe
- Plenty of toe wiggle room
- Flexible, flat sole
- Heel Support
- Laces, straps or something similar to prevent too much movement or slippage inside of the shoe.