"When should I buy my child's first pair of shoes?" and "which shoes should I buy?" are two questions I am often asked by parents. Before your child is walking, their feet should be free to move in all directions so that the muscles can develop. Socks or booties with soft soles that still allow movement are suitable for keeping their feet warm. Jumpsuits and other clothing that covers your baby's feet should be loose enough so that they can move their feet freely in all directions.
When a child first starts to walk, shoes should only be used when protection is needed from the ground or to keep the feet warm. Walking with bare feet helps the muscles in the foot to develop and helps the child to balance by being able to feel the ground beneath their feet.
When you buy your child's first pair of shoes for walking, look for:
- A sole that can bend at the toe
- A firm heel cup (this will provide ankle support)
- A sole that is wide enough so that the foot doesn't press into, or spill over the sides
- A sole that allows the toes to move freely
- Laces, buckles or strong velcro that hold the foot firmly into the shoe
- Light weight and breathable materials
The most expensive shoes are not necessarily the best ones!
If you are concerned about the way your child walks, or you would like more information about choosing appropriate footwear, you should see a Paediatric Physiotherapist or Paediatric Podiatrist.