The human foot is quite a complex structure; it comprises of 26 bones, supporting the bodies entire weight.
Babies feet contain more cartilage than bone and over time, will fuse, harden and grown into adult bones. The structure of infant feet develop fully within the first 2 years of their life, although the bones themselves harden and develop fully around the age of 18 years old. So it is vital to make sure you have shoes that are sturdy and appropriately fitted for your child from an early age onwards, so that the bones can develop naturally as they grow over time.
The most the feet change are in the first 3 years; on average, a child's feet grow up anywhere up to 12 sizes in just the first three years of their life. This is why it is recommend getting your toddler’s foot professionally measured at least once every three months, this ensures that their shoes fit correctly both in width and length. If shoes are too small, they can deform the toes and permanently damage the feet. Although this may mean you need to get your child a new pair of shoes every 3 to 6 months, their feet will grow properly and naturally. Around the age 4 years old, their shoes tend to last at least 8 to 12 months. *** PLEASE NOTE: This does not include sudden growth spurts***
Kids’ feet on average will take about 3 times more stress impact than the average adult feet, this is due to high activity levels compared with adults. Due to the high stress that a child’s foot will endure, it is recommended they should wear shoes with good shock absorption, with a well-made foot bed and durable soles. Flexibility is also very important in any child's shoes, as it helps to also strengthen the muscles.
It can be argued that most of the problems and pains the feet suffer in adulthood, have stemmed from wearing ill-fitting shoes during childhood; therefore it is important to remember that the feet are are one of the most important parts of the body, as they support the entire skeletal structure. Many problems with posture, walking, and even back pain can be associated with ill-fitting or poorly made shoes. Structurally, a babies arch will not usually be visible for the first 2 years of their life and then, it is not a fully developed arch. In the first few years of childhood, there is often what's known as a “fat pad" in the arch area of the feet and gives an appearance of a having flat feet; this isn't actually the case, as there IS a natural arch support.
Many shoe manufacturers for toddlers don't make footwear that include an arch support inside, as it is not necessary due to the fact that children's arches don't tend to develop until around the age of puberty. You might notice at times that your child’s feet turn in or out due to the fact that the foot arch has not yet fully developed but this is quite normal. If they do begin to complain they are suffering any pains, they should be referred to a either a Foot Health Practitioner that can asses the feet for the possible correct fitting of an Orthotic or if the child's feet have specific problems, then being recommended to see an Orthopaedic Specialist.
Children’s feet sweat a lot, about 2-3 times more than an average adult’s foot and this can be one reason why their shoes wear down faster than an adults. Sweating in a shoes continually everyday (especially if they only own one pair of shoes) will cause major wear and breakdown on the soft leather lining inside of the shoe. In time, will cause the actual structure of the shoe to break down, literally from the inside out. Sweat isn't only a problem for the durability of a shoe, but also the feet are more susceptible to catching various fungal infections. It is therefore vitally important that children wear breathable shoes, so they allow any moisture and heat from your child’s feet to escape but letting cooler air in. Wearing fresh clean cotton socks daily will also help keep feet dry and fungus free. If shoes begin to look worn from the inside after only a couple months, then one simple you can do is change your child's socks twice a day.
Some of the best materials for children’s shoes are leather and canvas; they are durable, breathable, flexible and can stretch and soften with wear and is great for busy active little feet. Avoid plastic footwear, as they do not breathe or stretch, and they can easily cause blistering and very sweaty feet.
Children wearing shoes that are too small for their feet, will: hinder the growth, decrease the natural blood circulation, cause blisters, ingrown toenails and in general will just cause pain. Also, wearing shoes that are too big, can cause painful rubbing or blistering on your child’s feet, as well as preventing them from being able to grip the ground properly when running about or climbing and will alsocause tripping on the front of the toe, risking serious injury.