If you’re worried that your child’s foot is missing an arch, your concerns aren’t unfounded. After all, flat feet can cause a fair bit of pain, especially during sports. While the arches develop naturally between the ages of three to eight, the type of shoes our kids wear also plays a part in shaping the arch, and we explore the type of footwear that’s best at each stage of your child’s growth.
A newborn baby’s feet may look cute and cuddly, but it’s important to remember that they are also very soft and flexible, and are easily deformed by abnormal pressures. It is at this stage that the muscles in their feet develop through kicking their legs and wiggling of their toes, so it’s important that they either do not wear shoes at all, or that they only wear loose and flexible socks or booties.
Learning To Walk
Children usually take their first steps between 10-18 months, and it is best to encourage indoor barefoot walking during this stage. Walking barefoot is completely natural, and allows the muscles and ligaments to grow straight and strong. But if you’re bringing them outdoors, then make sure to use shoes that are lightweight, flexible and made of natural or ‘breathable’ materials.
Running and Jumping
Once your child has mastered walking, they will then be eager to participate in sports and other outdoor activities. As such, it’s important that they’re using shoes that are suitable for the activities they’re engaged in. Shoes with velcro or laces are better than slip-on shoes as they allow the shoe to be adjusted to your child’s feet. But if you want to get them sandals to better cope with the hot climate found in Singapore, do ensure that there is a strap around the back to better hold the foot in the sandal.
Making sure your child wears shoes that are appropriate for them will not only ensure that their arches develop normally, but will also allow all other bones, muscles and ligaments to become strong in the feet and ankles. Therefore, shoes should not be viewed as a fashion accessory, but instead be seen as an investment.
Originally published in “Where’s The Arch?”, written by Jessica Tennant, in Singapore’s Child March 2012