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Choosing the right shoes to help your child walk

15 January 2021

It's important to take some time to think about whether the shoes you are buying will help or hinder your child's attempts to walk, or even cause them permanent damage.
Children often present with flat feet

When you start to teach your child to walk there are lots of things for you as a parent to think about. You need to encourage your child, help them to keep trying to walk, and pick them up when they fall over. One subject to which you may not give too much thought is the type of footwear you buy for your child.

It can be tempting to make your choice based on the colour or the fashion style of the shoe. These things are important to any parent but it is important to take some time to think about whether the shoes you are buying will help or hinder your child's attempts to walk, or even cause them permanent damage.

A research study conducted by the Stride Rite Children's Group has shown that wearing the right type of shoe can have a big impact on whether your child learns to walk well.

The study by Stride Rite was called "The Effects of Shoe Design on Children Learning to Walk" and was the most robust study of children’s feet yet undertaken. It indicated that children who wear shoes that fit properly and are flexible will be less likely to fall-over or stumble while they are learning to walk.

The study went on to say “ A shoe must fit, shape, mold and flex to -- and with – the foot to achieve Match Foot Movement” This means that the shoes your child wears must support and match the movement of their feet.

These results should not be a surprise to anyone who has spent even a little time around children. It makes sense that a shoe which are designed to match a child's foot would be most helpful for them while they are trying to develop a healthy gait and stride. A shoe with a flexible outsole that mimics their foot will enable a child to get a better feel for the ground below them than a hard, rigid shoe that doesn't adapt itself to the surface below.

The study also highlighted the fact that certain critical bones are not completely formed until the age of five. This creates the possibility of bones not forming correctly if children do not wear proper footwear.

Choosing the right shoes for your child while they are young can play an important part in ensuring their long-term foot health. If you would like to discuss this in further detail or have questions relating to your child’s foot health and development, we suggest you book in to speak with a Podiatrist!