Child Development and Footwear Considerations
Children’s development and footwear: it’s stage not age
Fitting young children for footwear can be a tricky task! But so is knowing what kind of shoes they need at each stage of their development. Our podiatrist Romany has a special interest in children’s development and she walks us through the important points to know before setting out to the shoe shop.
Children start walking around 12 months of age, but they might need shoes to protect active little crawlers from the cold Canberra winters.
There are gross motor milestones that paediatric health practitioners will check, and generally it can be said that children start to get up and moving on two feet at around 12 months. Depending on the season, your crawling baby might need warm socks or socks and ‘pram shoes’ to keep their feet warm for outside play or travel. In the warmer months and indoors, generally socks or bare feet are fine. But if you’ve got a crawler and want to do a lot of outdoor exploring in Canberra’s wonderful playgrounds then some warm, soft soled shoes are the way to go. During this stage of crawling and ‘cruising’ – where babies are standing taking some steps holding onto furniture- it is important to know about the strong neurological pathways that are being developed and refined.
Once a baby gets moving, their main sensory feedback points are the contact points of the body with the ground. When they’re crawling, this can be the tops of their feet, their knees and hands, and when they start cruising it is the bottoms of their feet. It is important they have as much touch feedback into their feet as possible, so they can accurately respond to the information coming from their very sensitive feet. Putting stiff soled shoes designed for older children or adults can inhibit the neurological information coming through the feet into the brain. Imagine trying to learn a new language with cotton wool in your ears! A much more difficult task than if you could hear clearly. Soft soled shoes for new walkers are important. Their aim is to protect the feet from rough or sharp surfaces and from extremes of temperature.
During this time, your baby’s feet will be fat and flat with little noticeable arch. They’ll have chubby ankles and square shaped toes that curl towards the floor. They will put their feet really wide apart for stability, fall on their bottoms a lot, they might just be crawling, bum shuffling, or scooting around on their tummies.
Protection without neurological inhibition
A really good example of these shoes are the Bobux Soft Sole or the Bobux Xplorers. The Soft Soles are more suited to crawlers, and the Xplorers have a more protective flexible sole designed for cruising babies. The Soft Sole have a range with a plain leather or a merino wool inner lining, perfect for Canberra’s long cold winters.
When your child is a confident walker going on outdoor adventures they become harder on their shoes and their feet need more protection
This may occur from the time they have been walking for about 12 months. You’ll notice their walking is much more consolidated, their feet are not so wide apart- moving underneath their hips, they step out confidently are likely to fall a lot but they pick themselves up and keep on going. Exploring the world and getting moving with this new viewpoint is so exciting for them! In addition to taking off at speed now, they might be going over more rough surfaces and climbing everything they can get onto. This is the time to move into a shoe with still flexible but more hardwearing soles and a rounded toe box profile.
The Bobux Step-Up range is perfect for this stage in your child’s walking.
Running, jumping, playing
Confident walkers like toddlers and pre-schoolers soon start running, jumping and playing with gusto. You’ll notice that the feet are starting to become more muscular, the chub in the arch is being replaced by a defined arch shape, and their ankles are starting to show the Achilles tendon and ankle bones. The falls have significantly reduced and the speed and ground covered is tenfold! The soles of the shoes at this stage should be flexible and support the more dynamic movements that come with changing direction and the increased forces associated with running and jumping.
The Bobux I-Walk range has a hardwearing but flexible sole with a surface designed to provide grip over many different surfaces. This is the time when children start to have a colour and style preference, so the I-Walk range place style and colour choices right next to form and function.
That’s not my baby’s chubby little foot anymore!
Sounds like your baby is now a kid! And with kids comes rough and tumble, but also a new foot shape. You’ll notice that the heel is rounded and well defined, the ankle is well defined with the clear outline of the Achilles and ankle bones, the arch is more muscular and has lost the chubby infill, and the shape of the foot is now longer and more shaped. The toes often take on a more parabola shaped profile, with the 2nd, 3rd or 1st toes being longest.
The Bobux Kid+ range accommodates this new foot shape and provides the support and protection active kids need. The Kid+ range comes in a variety of styles for summer and winter, so you’re sure to find something that pleases you, your child, and your podiatrist.