by Sam, CeCe & Me
Taking their first steps
Witnessing your little one stand and start to take those tentative first steps, interspersed with a few tumbles, are magical moments! As they start to explore the world on two feet, naturally you want to protect them but what should they be wearing on their feet and when?
In these early stages, there’s no rush for them to be in shoes. Walking barefoot or in a pair of non-slip socks will allow your little one to learn about balance, establish their natural walking pattern and build their confidence.
Little feet are amazing!
The sole of the foot has more nerve-endings per sq cm than anywhere else on the body. This sensitive surface sends vital information to the brain about the terrain and environment, absolutely crucial during these early explorations. Wearing shoes places a barrier between the foot and the ground, dulling these sensations.
However, there will come a time when your little one wants to be on their feet outside and this is the time to consider a pair of pre-walkers. Particularly at this time of year, when it’s cold and the ground is often wet.
What shoe is right for your brand new explorer?
Pre-walkers should be soft, lightweight and flexible, with a weather-proof, non-slip sole. There should be a secure fit around the ankle, so the foot is held in position within the shoe and the shoe should envelope the foot, providing protection, but not inhibit it’s movement or influence the way the foot is placed.
The advice is to allow around six weeks of independent walking, i.e. walking without assistance, before moving to more structured, supportive shoes. By this time your little one will be moving confidently, walking all the time and at greater speed. Again there’s no rush to move to the next stage, as long as there is room around the foot for it to flex and spread comfortably, your little one can continue to wear the pre-walkers until they’re ready for the next size.
Growing feet: and they're off...
Children’s feet grow and develop rapidly during these early years, so the guidance is to measure their feet every 2-3 months. All reputable shoe-fitters will offer no obligation fitting checks and it’s very unlikely you’ll need to buy new shoes every time, but regular checks will help you avoid being caught out by a sudden growth spurt.
At birth a baby’s foot is predominantly soft, malleable cartilage, which gradually turns to bone, fuses and hardens to form the 26 bones of an adult foot. This process is called ossification and takes many years to complete, until the late teens/early twenties. Feet remain vulnerable to damage from ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear throughout this time, with persistent pressure on developing bones potentially causing a permanent deformity. Wearing the right shoes in childhood is the best way to ensure a lifetime of healthy feet.
Over the years there will be plenty of opportunities to buy a whole range of different shoes, now is the time to take it slow and let your little one find their feet.
Sam is a professionally qualified shoe fitter: endorsed by the Society of Shoe Fitters and the Children's Foot Health Register
CeCe & Me offer a mobile shoe fitting service - no more queuing in the busy shoe shop!!