When hes born, your babys feet and legs are curved because hes spent months in your womb. As he grows and kicks, his feet and legs will straighten out, this can take a few years.
Make sure tight socks or shoes dont cramp his feet so they can grow as straight as possible and the delicate cartilage isnt damaged. They should be just larger than the size for the foot- check regularly that the sock heel is where your babys heel is and that he end isnt stretched tightly over this toes.
While there are some gorgeous bootees and pram shoes out there, its important you buy the right size so they dont squash your babys feet.
By the time your baby is between 10-16 months, hell have been crawling a while before that magical moment when he takes those first steps on his own, When babies start to walk they can look flat-footed, partly because of the way they waddle to keep their balance, and partly because of fat deposits in their feet. At this stage, let him walk barefoot if possible, but if you feel he needs something on this feet to protect them, choose early, soft shoes with a non-slip, light and bendy sole.
When to buy proper shoes
Experts from The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists say toddlers dont need proper shoes until they can walk well. So once hes been toddling comfortably for about six weeks, its time for those first proper shoes. For this you should always have her feet measured by a qualified childrens shoe-fitter. This is important because well-fitting shoes help to control her feet and keep her balanced as she walks. Reputable companies such as Start-rite, Russell and Bromley, and Clarks, all take pride in their foot-growth knowledge and will have specially-trained fitters on hand.
The first fitting
Make sure you feel comfortable with the shop and the fitting staff. You can find a full list of shoe shops in your area who have fully trained staff by contacting the Childrens Foot Health Register (tel 01295 738726). Your fitter will measure the length and width of your toddlers feet. Properly fitting shoes should be about 12-16mm longer than the babys big toe, and wide enough for all his toes to lie flat, but not too loose. Your babys heel should be held securely in place- if his foot slips out when hes walking or standing on tiptoe the shoe doesnt fit properly.
Once your baby has her news shoes, make sure you check them every six to eight weeks to make sure she hasnt grown out of them. Her feet will grow by that least two sizes a year until shes about 4, and then around one size per year after that. Gently press on the front of the shoe and if you can feel your babys toe against your fingers its time for a new pair.
The vast majority of babies are born with no problems, and by the time theyre 3 their feet and legs will have straightened out by themselves. Occasionally, feet or legs dont develop normally heres what to look out for:
- If the front half of her foot is very curved, doesnt straighten when you pull gently and has a deep crease in her sole where it begins to curve, then mention when at your baby clinic.
- Most toddlers are pigeon toed (toes face inwards) from 1 ½ until theyre around 3 years old, when it corrects itself. If you toddler is tripping over more than you think they should, take them to your GP.
- By the age of 3, your toddler will probably have developed an arch in the sole of her foot and those flat feet will disappear. If they stay flat beyond 3, its worth getting her checked out by your GP.
For more information about the importance of expertly measured, properly fitted first walking shoes log onto The campaign for Healthy Little Feet sponsored by Start-rite.