Q: Why are shoes such a critical element in a child’s development?
Dr. William Knudson: Having a child comes with a series of memorable firsts. These celebrated firsts—first word, first tooth, first step—are among the most important developmental milestones recorded by parents. In my podiatry practice, a child’s first steps are of particular interest. When a child starts to walk, it’s time to buy their first pair of shoes. There are a number of useful facts and guidelines to help new parents choose the right pair of shoes.
Q: How should parents approach the purchase of their child’s first pair of shoes?
Dr. William Knudson: Baby feet grow extremely fast. In fact, toddlers will generally pass through two size sizes in one year. It’s advisable for parents to check their child’s shoes once every couple of months to ensure that they aren’t too tight. Children’s feet typically grow much faster during warmer seasons, so pay special attention during the spring and summer months.
Q: What materials should a child’s shoes be made of?
Dr. William Knudson: A child’s shoes should be made of cloth, leather or other natural, flexible materials—basically anything with some measure of elasticity to allow for movement.
Q: Are there other aspects of children’s shoes that deserve consideration?
Dr. William Knudson: When children first begin walking, they have little coordination. Therefore, nonslip soles can help prevent falls. Inspect shoes before purchasing to make sure that they have nonslip soles.
Q: Where can parents seek further advice about their child’s shoes?
Dr. William Knudson: When fitting a child for his or her new pair of shoes, first consult with a shoe fitter. These proven experts can select age-appropriate shoes designed to fit the child. Remember that well-fitting children’s shoes require a little space so that the child can wiggle his or her toes.