The bones in your little one’s feet start to grow from 6 months, but it’s when she starts to put weight down on them that they’ll really get bigger and tougher to cope with her bodyweight. “Your child’s feet maintain a steady growth from around the 6-month mark,” explains Matthew. “When she’s first up on her feet, she’ll need loose socks or classic baby booties just to keep her feet warm, but not hinder the development of her feet as she learns to toddle.” Growing children develop at different times, but if you’re concerned about her feet, talk to your health visitor or GP for advice.
No skimping please
“If you’re at home in a safe, warm environment, going barefoot is great for your toddler to give her feet some air,” suggests Bob Hardy, foot-fitting manager for Clarks (www.clarks.co.uk). “But when you’re out, she’ll need good shoes to protect her growing feet. She needs a light, flexible shoe, with a strong fastening and a flat, firm heel for comfort and safety.”
While it might be tempting to save money and get a second-hand pair for your little one, it can actually be a hazard for growing tootsies. “When you wear in a pair of shoes, sometimes the shape changes to fit your foot,” explains Bob. “So if you give your toddler a second-hand pair, her feet might start to follow the pattern of the former owner’s feet. Whereas new shoes will let her feet fit to them as naturally as possible.”
Check the fit
“Make sure you get your child’s feet measured by a trained fitter so you know she’s got a pair that are comfortable,” explains Bob. “Between the ages of 1 to 5, children’s feet grow around 16mm a year, so it’s important to get them measured regularly.” When your toddler’s fitted for her first shoe, go back about 6 to 8 weeks later for a check-up on the fit. Most shops won’t charge for this as long as her feet were fitted there originally. “The rapid growth of a toddler’s foot in the first few years means the life expectancy of a shoe is around three to four months,” explains Bob. “So get them measured every couple of months.”
A tot on the move will need a proper sole to support her feet. Tilly First Walking Shoes, £32, from Start Rite.
“The perfect pair”
“We took Samuel to get his first proper shoes when he started walking at 18 months. He has hemiplegia so needs orthopaedic insoles, and it took us ages to find decent shoes to fit properly with the insoles. Eventually we found Primigi shoes were perfect as the insoles fit and they’re comfy.”
Nicola Herring, 37, from London, mum to Samuel, 3