Baby, Toddler & Children's Footwear Questions
Top podiatrist and SKEANIE Consultant Tracy Byrne provides you with answers to our frequently asked questions.
As a podiatrist, I’m often asked, ‘when should my baby start wearing shoes?’ The purpose of shoes is to protect the feet from the environment, not to provide structural support. Hence a child will need shoes when it starts walking outside, but the more time spent barefoot, the better.
When should my baby start wearing shoes?
The purpose of shoes is to protect the feet from the environment, not to provide structural support. Hence a child will need shoes when it starts walking outside, but the more time spent barefoot, the better. Even socks that are too tight can damage the cartilage in babies’ feet. Experts suggest babies learn to crawl and walk barefoot. In cold conditions or to protect feet against accidental bumps and scrapes, a soft-soled, loose fitting shoe made of natural materials are recommended.
My baby is taking a long time to start walking!
Don’t force your baby to start walking – they will start when they’re ready. Most children start walking between 9 and 19 months of age as development varies. In the meantime, make sure socks and Babygrow’s are not tight or restrictive so the toes can move and breathe. Encourage your baby to stretch and wiggle their feet – this will help strengthen the muscles.
Why do shoes need to be ‘fitted’?
There is no such thing as an ‘average’ foot - children’s feet come in all different shapes and sizes. According to a British survey, 91% of children are wearing ill-fitting shoes and 89% of parents don’t know if their children’s shoes fit properly! An ill-fitting shoe will put pressure in wrong parts of the feet and cause lifelong problems. Babies feet are soft and will mould to whatever shoe they are put into. A well-fitted shoe will allow room both in length and width for growth and movement.
Where should I buy my child’s shoes?
Look for a shoe shop that sells shoes that have been specifically designed for kids, and check that they carry a range of widths and half sizes. To ensure your child gets the best possible fit, it is important that the staff have been specifically trained to fit children’s shoes as every foot is unique.
How much room should I allow for growth?
Somewhere between 15mm and 17mm of room is recommended. This allows for the natural rounding of the toes, movement within the shoe and extra room for growth. Kids’ feet grow erratically so check the shoes regularly!
One of my child’s feet is bigger than the other – what size do I buy?
It is quite common for children to have one foot larger than the other. Always fit shoes according to the size of the bigger foot, to ensure there is adequate room for both feet.
Do children’s shoe sizes vary between brands?
Shoes size and shape vary greatly depending on the brand and style. A trained fitter will be able to recommend the correct shoe for your child. When your child’s foot is measured, this size is used as a rough gauge; the fitter will be able to determine the proper fit by trying shoes on your child.
How often does my child need new shoes?
If the soles of the shoes are worn down on the heel or toe of the foot, its time to buy new shoes. Check your child’s feet regularly for calluses or blisters, as this is also an indicator. Childrens’ feet grow very fast in the first three years of age. Check that there is always room for your child’s feet to move and the toes to spread.
Can my child wear hand-me-down shoes?
It is best to avoid having your child wear second-hand shoes, as each child’s foot is unique in shape and size. Used shoes will exhibit signs of wear and be moulded to the previous owner’s foot, affecting the support and protection offered by the shoe.
What shoes should my child wear to school?
We highly recommend that you purchase school shoes which are designed, developed and sold as "School Shoes". We do not recommend that you wear SKEANIE shoes as school shoes, as they are not designed for this purpose.