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and allowing them to assess the right size and fitting shoe suitable for
your child,” says Laura West, Secretary of the SSF. “A child may have a
• At birth, the bones in a baby’s foot are only partially formed and are very soft
high arch, low ankle-bone, pronation, supination; they may even require and pliable. At six months the foot is still so delicate that it can be pushed out
remedial advice and need to be referred to their G.P. or chiropodist’.
of shape by a tight sock or sleep suit. By school age the cartilage in the feet has
Shoe fitting is not just common-sense it requires knowledge and
hardened but remains vulnerable to damage, and the bones will not be fully
formed until a child reaches his late teens.
experience. Only a third of children have average feet, therefore a
• Children’s feet grow in spurts so their footwear should be professionally
qualified shoe fitter is the best person to look after your child’s feet, as it checked for fit every six to eight weeks when they are toddling and then every
is their job to continually look, feel and assess many different pairs of feet
three to four months.
• To ensure the best possible fit from their children’s footwear, it is
in a day. What you consider to be ‘cheap’ now, may cost your children
recommended that parents choose from brands that offer a full range of sizes
dearly in the future, and there is no extra charge for an expert service”. and width fittings. Start-rite offer shoes in whole and half sizes, and up to 6
Professor Wesley Vernon, OBE, chairman of the Healthy Footwear
width fittings (C, D, E, F, G and H).
• Qualified shoe-fitters provide free, no-obligation fit checks and will not
recommend purchase of new shoes unless the child needs them
"It is very important
• Qualified shoe-fitters will only use the foot gauge as a guide to selecting the
to get shoe fitting correct footwear. Trained shoe-fitters use their skill and experience to interpret
right in childhood
and fit every child’s feet individually for shoes.
as this will set up
the right patterns
for life and in doing
Checklist for choosing the right children’s shoes:
so, prevent many of
• Avoid slip-on’s. Choose shoes with laces, straps or Velcro fastenings, which
the problems that hold the shoe onto the foot. Beware the fashion for girl’s ballet style pumps,
are dealt with by the
and ‘lazy boots’. Both lack adequate support and provide no shock absorption.
NHS much later
• Ask if the assistant is a trained shoe fitter and, if not, if one is on the premises.
Always have both feet measured for length and width. Shoes that are the wrong
size can damage a growing foot.
• A newly fitted shoe should be approximately a finger’s width longer than the
Mum’s not always right
longest toe to allow for growth and elongation of the foot when walking.
• Trainers are designed and manufactured for sporting purposes and not
Independent research com missioned by children’s shoe company,
everyday wear. Avoid the use of plimsolls in school all day, every day. Both
Start-rite, has revealed parents could unwittingly be making the wrong
trainers and plimsolls can create their own associated problems.
footwear choices for their children, storing up foot health and posture
• Have your child’s feet measured in every shoe shop you visit but remember a
problems for the future.
gauge is only a guide and different styles, manufacturers, materials, country of
origin, will all affect the fit of a shoe.
Start-rite’s research suggests that as many as seven out of every ten four-
• Heel height should be no more than 4cm. Lower for younger children. The
year-olds starting school in September could be wearing ill-fitting shoes.” heel should have a broad base and be made from a shock-absorbing material.
Whilst the majority of parents surveyed (75%) recognise the
• Natural material uppers such as leather are best. Check inside the shoe for
importance of having children’s feet professionally measured and fitted
seams or stitching that may cause irritation.
• The toe area of the shoe should be deep enough to allow the toes to move
for shoes, most are unaware of how frequently this should happen and at
freely and not be squashed from the top or sides.
what stages in their child’s development. • The shoes should fit exactly snugly around the heel to keep the foot from
The survey revealed that while 70% of parents take their children to the
sliding forward into the toe box and restricting the toes.
• The inner border of the shoe at the heel and arch area should be firm and
dentist at least once every six months, less than half have their feet profes -
support the foot. Think about hosiery – are they outgrown? Have they shrunk?
sionally fitted for shoes more than once a year. And, although nearly half Socks that are too tight can also restrict toes and natural development.
of parents surveyed think it is impor tant for toddlers to be properly
• Do not be tempted to ‘hand shoes down’ - they take on the wear pattern of the
measured and fitted for first shoes, by the time a child reaches school age,
original owner and can rub where they have become misshapen.
Sources: The Society of Shoe Fitters and The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
7 out of 10 parents think fitting is unimportant.
Children’s shoes should only be fitted by trained staff; the shop will
either display a Certificate/diploma, or the Fitter will be wearing a badge
of merit. Only a member of the Society of Shoe Fitters can say that he or
Tips on looking after your children’s feet:
she is a ‘qualified’ shoe fitter.
• Inspect their shoes regularly for unusual wear and seek professional advice if
“Damage can be done in a child’s formative years that may affect their
you are concerned. Unusual wear may be the first indication that there is a
problem with the foot posture or general posture and should always be
complete physiology, which in turn may affect their health in later life.
investigated by your registered podiatrist. Normally, wear is across the back of
Even migraine can be attributed to ill-fitting shoes,” warns Laura West, the heel or between the back and the outside. You should look out for severe
Secretary of the Society of Shoe Fitters.
wear on the inside or outside of the heel. This may carry forward to the sole of
the shoe. Also the heel area of the upper may be broken and bulge inside or
Summary of Key Findings
• Be aware that blisters and sores may develop with new shoes.
• While the majority of parents (75%) agree it is important for their • Inspect children’s feet regularly for inflamed nails, red pressure marks in the
children to be properly fitted for shoes by a qualified fitter, in reality
top of the small joints of the toes, below the ankle bones and the back of the
less than half (46%) take their children to be fitted for shoes twice a
• Remember that teenagers in particular can be secretive about foot problems
year or more, and a quarter go once a year or less.
and a trivial, easily rectified problem can be more serious if neglected.
• Almost a quarter of parents never take their children to be properly
• If your children complain of itchy or painful sites or you see any rashes or hard
fitted for shoes.
raised areas on the skin seek professional advice immediately.
• Children have naturally sweaty feet but smelly feet may be an indication of
• Just over half the parents surveyed are aware of their child’s foot width
size. Only one in three of these children is a standard ‘F’ fitting. (Shoes • Due to being enclosed in a shoe and living close to potential sources of
which come in only one width-size are usually an ‘F’ fitting.)
infection the foot is at relatively higher risk of infection compared to other
• 47% of parents believe that the most important age for children to be
parts of the body. Any blisters, cuts or abrasions should be treated with
antiseptic and dressed immediately.
properly fitted for shoes is during year one. Only 14% believe that it
Source: The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
is still important at age 12.
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