Allowing your child to walk barefoot is actually good for his or her foot development, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Podiatrists agree that walking barefoot helps develop the muscles of the foot, contributes to good posture, and increases strength and flexibility in the feet.
This is good reason for your baby not to wear shoes, especially indoors. But whenever you do buy your child shoes, it's important to fit your toddler with the proper size shoe to prevent foot deformity and other foot problems later on in life.
Sizing Shoes for Length
When measuring your toddler's feet for length, you can go up one shoe size to allow room for growth. However, shoes that fit larger than that increase the risk that your toddler will fall, especially if he or she is just learning how to walk.
Even if he or she isn't walking yet, measure shoe fit with your child standing. Feet are flexible; therefore, they get larger both in length and width when supporting body weight. If one foot is larger than the other, fit the shoe to the largest foot.
Sizing Shoes for Width
While not all shoes for children are available in multiple widths, the standard medium width may not be an appropriate fit for your child's feet. A thicker foot or higher instep requires a wider shoe. A baby's foot has more natural padding, usually under the arches, which makes it thicker.
One way to determine if a shoe is wide enough to fit your toddler's foot is to insert the tip of your pointer finger between the shoe and your child's foot at the instep. If your finger fits into the space, the shoe is wide enough. However, check to make sure your toddler's toes aren't cramped inside the toe box. Although your child should have room to wiggle his or her toes, if the space between the big toe and and the toe of the shoe is wider than your thumb, the shoes are too big.
Sizing Shoes for Heel Fit
When it comes to heel fit, a high-top shoe may stay on your toddler's feet better. With a lower shoe that doesn't cover the heel, check to see that your child's heel doesn't come out of the shoe when he or she walks. Avoid buying shoes for your toddler where the heel fits either too loosely or too tightly. The shoe is a proper heel fit if you can get your pinky finger between your child's heel and the heel of the shoe. More or less space isn't a proper fit.
Choosing Flexible Soles
Buy shoes for your toddler that have soles which are thick yet flexible enough to bend with the foot. Avoid choosing shoes with soles that are smooth and stiff. Textured soles or those with a pattern provide traction to help keep your child from slipping. Skid-resistant rubber soles with ridges are another practical choice.
Consider Shoe Style/Material
Fitting your toddler with the right shoe size also depends on the type of shoe and materials from which a shoe is made. Keep in mind that styles often are sized differently or may not fit the shape of your child's foot. Also, since your child's feet are still developing, shoes constructed of stiff or synthetic materials can interfere with normal growth and development.
Canvas and soft leather are flexible materials that are more comfortable. Shoes made of these breathable materials keep your toddler's feet cooler and dryer, and help prevent blisters and other skin irritations on the feet. For more information, ask professionals like Aiken Maurice W, DPM PA for advice.
Your feet might not seem like an important part of your personal health and wellness routine, but you would be hard-pressed to work out without them. Unfortunately, many people overlook their foot health, only to end up suffering from debilitating bunions and painful ingrown toenails. A few years ago, I ignored a cut on my foot which eventually turned into a full-blown infection. After a near-amputation, I realized that I needed to start focusing on my whole body. I know that if you can start focusing on your foot health, you can avoid troubling conditions so that you can enjoy your life.