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      This is a question I had myself when I was a new mum and ­­recently I was able to get the answer from the lovely Siobhan Matthews, who is the owner of a children’s shoe shop called Little Piggy’s Shoes For Kids in Trim, Co. Meath.

      As a qualified nurse and mother of three children, she believes that well-fitting shoes will benefit your child on their long road ahead.

      She is an expert in this area and had some very interesting advice. The bones in children’s feet are mainly cartilage and do not develop into hard bone structure until the age of five.

      As we all know cartilage is a firm tissue but is softer and more flexible than bone, so when a baby is sitting up and ­
      not moving around shoes are generally not required, unless advised by ­
      a physiotherapist.

      Most podiatrist and physiotherapists say that ‘barefoot is best’ — as it allows toddlers to expand and develop the muscles and nerve endings in their feet. But we all know for practical reasons this is not always possible.

      Little feet can get cold and damaged with rough surfaces both outdoors, and indoors especially on tiles and wooden floors.

      Siobhan would generally recommend a pair of ­­
      pre-walker shoes for your toddler when they start to pull themselves up on furniture and begin cruising.

      The gripped sole is soft enough to allow them to mobilise naturally and comfortably while also providing them with a little confidence to get going.

      She recommends that children should have their feet measured at this stage to ensure that the ­­
      pre-walker fits perfectly on your child’s particular shape of feet. The main reason for this being that, at this stage, you want to prevent any unnecessary
      injuries to the foot.

      Shoes that are ill-fitting can prevent natural growth, cause discomfort and lead to foot problems.

      As every child is different, it’s tough to say how long their shoes will last. James goes through growth spurts and once increased a size in six weeks, but his current shoes have lasted much longer.

      Children grow at such a rapid rate, especially up to three years of age. Growth rate for the first year can be up to three sizes. Therefore, the general rule of thumb would be to have your little one’s feet measured at least every six weeks. This can be an expensive time but is a very important time in the development of a child’s foot. Remember that their feet will slow down in growth after the age of three.

      TOP TIPS:

      1.  Have their feet measured by a trained shoe fitter, ensuring they are wearing the correct size.

      2.  Economically it makes more sense to have one good quality perfectly fitting leather shoe rather than having to purchase may pairs of ill-fitting flimsy shoes.

      3.  Caring for your child’s feet especially up to twelve years of age will pay dividends in the long run, reducing foot problem’s leading to back and hip pain in adulthood.

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