By Graeme Wheaton, Product Developer at Betts Kids
Choosing the right shoes for children is an important aspect of their growth and development. Making sure that your child is fitted correctly ensures that you can avoid damage to their little feet.
Young children can start wearing ‘structured shoes’ from the time they begin to walk but it is important to make sure that the shoes are soft and flexible, allowing a natural development of the foot and walking motion. Although some people believe that it is better for your kids to be walking barefoot, the function of your kids first shoes is to provide protection from sharp stones, hot pavements in summer and keep feet dry and free from dampness in winter months. Children who are not yet walking but whose feet need protection from these elements can be fitted for shoes specifically designers for them (pre-walkers). Pre-walkers are flexible with a soft outsole that allows a high degree of foot motion.
Your child’s ability to flex and grip with his/her toes during crawling and “first standing” is an important part of learning to walk, and so bare feet is a healthy option, however there are times when a foot covering is necessary for protection. For Toddler and Young Children make sure that you invest in soft flexible shoes that offer good support and stability. A high degree of adjustability to give a snug fit on different foot shapes is also ideal.
Leather is the best material for uppers and linings, as it will allow the foot to “breath” and is substantial enough to offer great protection and support where it’s needed. Flexible outsoles that provide good grip are essential; learning to walk is difficult enough without having slippery outsoles to deal with which is why Betts Kids have invested heavily in the development of our Airflex Ultraflex technology. The technology enables natural foot movement making walking easier and more comfortable for kids.
Having shoes correctly fitted is essential, if a shoe is too small it can cause damage to the as yet not fully formed bones of the foot, very young children may not necessarily feel any significant discomfort from a shoe that is a little too tight, or be able to tell us the shoes are too tight, so it’s our job as parents and shoe fitters to ensure that shoes are of the correct size. Having shoes that are too large is also a problem as this will make walking difficult, and may lead to unnecessary falls. Footwear that is to large will allow the foot to move inside the shoe and this can cause rubbing and blistering of the feet, particularly the heels.
Shoes need to be accurately fitted to prevent the above situations, a well-qualified shoe fitting specialist will be able to achieve these outcomes and also allow some “growing room” to offer some value to the customer in terms of the shoes lasting a reasonable time.
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