Parenting & Paediatrics

Your Child’s Healthy Feet Development

Things I Didn’t Know About Developing My Child’s Feet Properly

As my child was learning to walk I found myself standing in a shop one day not knowing what to consider when buying a pair of shoes.

I picked up a very cute pair of shoes that were right on trend. I was looking at how cute the shoe was and how relatively affordable it was. But then I thought that perhaps there could be more to it?

A Song Came To Mind:

“The hip bone’s connected to the back bone…
The back bone’s connected to the neck bone…
The neck bone’s connected to the head bone…
Now shake dem skeleton bones”

I thought to myself, “Maybe my kid doesn’t even need shoes at all?”.

Then I thought about how the development of my child’s feet will be serving her for life. I realized that I seek advice from professionals when it comes to matters of health like sleeping or nose breathing and it dawned on me that feet should not be treated any differently.

And then, I felt completely overwhelmed so I just put the shoes down and left the shop. At this point I had too many questions and most of them could not be answered by a retail shop assistant.

I Did What I Do Best – I Asked Questions!

I started doing research about how I could help my daughter to develop her feet and entire posture in the best possible way.

It was there that my passion for healthy feet development was born.

I spoke to some medical professionals about the things I can do that will contribute to optimum growth and development. Then I spoke to shoe manufacturers. Essentially, I made it my job to find the right brand of shoes to support my daughter’s healthy feet development in the long-term.

Our Feet as Our Foundation

We are on our feet all day long. There is pressure on our feet even when we are sitting. It’s exactly the same as the foundation of a building.

  • Feet: Our feet serve as the base and everything follows on from there.
  • Eyes: Our eyes will always see the world as level so if something is wrong in between our feet and our head our bodies will simply compensate.
  • Movement: Our feet influence our ankle movements, hip movements and it follows suit into our lower back, our back and our neck.

Feet Have Individual Posture

Our feet have their own biomechanical process. As soon as feet roll inwards then the knees will roll in and so will the hips. Dr Rebecca Berry strongly advises that we should not share shoes among our kids as their shoes support their individual growth processes.

Barefoot Time

It’s important to determine when my child can be barefoot, when she can be in play socks and when she needs a shoe.

The nervous system of a child is still developing. The sensation of touch on bare feet helps to develop the sensory and motor skills in children.

Kids should spend as much time as possible barefoot around the home and garden in our own trusted environments. Once we go outside of our own environments we should start protecting their feet with shoes.

The Correct Shoe Size

If my child’s shoes are too big or too small, it can negatively impact her growth. If I measure my child’s feet and buy a good quality pair of shoes in the right size, then they will last for the season. For children under the age of 3 years it is recommended to measure their feet every two months. From the age of 3 years we can start measuring every three months. There should be 12 to 15mm room for growth from the top of the big toe to the end of the shoe.

It’s also important for socks to be fitting properly.

The Correct Shoe for the Development Stage

When children first start walking they need a shoe that is close to a barefoot experience but with enough support. The flexibility of the shoe is very important for sensory development. Dr Rebecca Berry says the flexibility of the Richter shoes from Greensteps is ideal because kids use proprioception to develop skills for balance.

Shoes Need To Be Fit for Purpose

I have a variety of shoes in my cupboard to fulfil a certain purpose. If I am going to a gala dinner I may wear a pair of high heels but if I am going to play sport I wear shoes that are designed to take impact.

The phenomenon of shoes being fit for purpose is so much more important for growing feet.
For example, flip-flops are designed for wearing around the pool, the beach and wet areas. If we dress our children in flip-flops to go and play outside all day or try to keep up with us in an outing to the mall it will have a negative impact on their development. If one observes their feet in flip-flops one can see that their feet crunch and grip to hang on to the shoe.

Dr. Berry says:

“This continuous action will change the posture of their feet and indirectly change the posture of their entire body. Flip flops can restrict movement of the big toe and the big toe plays a big role in development of the arch of the foot.”

It is imperative that shoes are fit for purpose and are made of materials that support comfort and healthy feet development. By avoiding synthetic materials one can minimize perspiration. In the South African climate an alternative to flip-flops is a sandal with a support structure that is made of breathable materials.

Support Structure in Shoes

Look for a minimum back support of 4 cm. This kind of heel cup will help to keep the child’s foot straight. Fastening is a key structure of the shoe, this gives an indication of movement of the foot inside the shoe. Kids love jumping around so look for shoes that provide some support in the sole. This will support their knees and the rest of their bodies. You may not see the effects right now, but it will serve them later on in life.

My Choice for First Walkers

By the time my baby was taking her first proper steps I had done enough homework and found my brand of choice, Richter. I was comfortable that this brand would support the healthy development of my daughter’s feet, her entire posture and that the shoes will be serving her for much longer than meets the eye. Richter is an Austrian brand and they have been manufacturing children’s shoes in the interest of healthy development since 1893.

It is now one year later, and my child is much busier and braver than ever before. She has transitioned from walking cautiously to jumping, running, climbing and riding bikes with confidence second to none.

Richter remains my brand of choice for healthy development in kids. This brand along with other brands is available locally from greensteps.co.za. They are also now available in selected Kids Emporium Stores.

You can watch one of my medical interviews on this topic over here.

With Love and Gratitude,
Laetitia

*Dr Rebecca Berry is from Linden Chiropractic
*This post was sponsored by Greensteps Footwear
*Images exclusively by Leigh Benson Photography

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