Everyone knows that children's feet grow fast, but infant feet grow the fastest of all. In the first year of a child's life their feet will grow to be almost half their adult shoe size. Other than taking your child to see a podiatrist if foot development seems to be abnormal, the best thing a parent can do for their infant's foot health is to interfere as little as possible. Before a child has started walking, shoes are unnecessary. During the winter months your child can wear soft booties to stay warm, but all foot coverings should be as non-restricting as possible.
After your toddler has begun to walk (usually between 10 and 18 months old), you can introduce him or her to a sneaker with a flexible outsole with good traction. This should be worn outdoors only. Inside the house barefoot is still best for toddlers. Just be sure their play area is free of debris that might hurt their little feet. Remember to check your child's feet for blisters and other signs that their shoes no longer fit. Toddler's feet tend to grow a shoe size larger every three months or so. Feel free to buy shoes slightly larger than what your child needs. 1/2 an inch clearance at the toe provides some growing room.
Your child will usually start wearing youth shoe sizes around age 6. After the age of 6, it becomes especially important that children wear supportive athletic shoes during play, particularly if they participate in after-school sports. While children's feet are more resilient and thus less prone to injury, the most common cause of chronic children's foot pain is Sever's disease, an inflammation of a child's developing heel growth plate. The most common cause of children's heel pain is participation in activities that involve a lot of running and jumping, such as soccer and basketball, without having shoes that provide enough arch support. Even if your child's favorite pair of athletic shoes provide only minimal support, Children's arch supports are available at your local stores or online to decrease your child's risk of developing a painful foot injury.
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