Thursday, March 29, 2012

Little Pitter Patters

Winter Love shoe wisdom

Stella loves shoes. Not just loves, but is totally obsessed with them. When visitors come for an afternoon cup of tea she will greet their shoes before greeting them, then spend the next hour or so modelling their choice of footwear around our house. She takes delight in choosing and putting on her shoes before an outing, however her colour combinations don't always delight me.

Whenever we take a trip to the mall we visit her fairy-shoe-mother (my boss from the shoe store where I have worked for the past 8 years) for Stella, that place is like shoe lovers heaven. I seem to think that fitting and selling shoes may remain in the family! Having a daughter who has a very fast growing foot and a love for anything with buckles and velcro has bought back many memories of my shoe fitting days. I remember mothers coming in and being grateful for quick, efficient service so they could head for the park as soon as possible, I remember hearing tales of feet growing at the speed of light and velcro being a recipe for shoe-losing disaster. I am now on the other side of that service desk and instead I am one of these mothers.

I thought I would share with you some valuable wisdom I have gained from working in the shoe industry for so long. Not only have I learnt about whats hot and whats not, but I've also learnt a lot and been trained in how childrens feet develop and the best way to care for their growing little feet. Much like we care for their teeth and their immune systems, we must also care for their feet. For those chubby little feet will carry them on a journey for the rest of their lives.

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At 6 months old, your baby's foot comprises mostly of cartilage and can be deformed by an ill-fitting sock or onesie. At this age children don't need to wear shoes, if you can't resist buying those cute little Converse take-offs keep them loose fitting. Make sure anything you put on your baby's foot accommodates for width; feet at this age are renowned for chubbiness and irresistible rolls. In summer, let your baby go barefoot as much as possible, leave the socks off and let the fresh summer air tickle their toes.

At two years, the bone structure of your child's foot is still developing. There are still large gaps between the bones. These gaps allow distortion in development from tight shoes without pain. So although your toddler may seem comfortable in her shoes, it may not always be so. If you need to twist, poke and push to get your toddlers foot into a shoe, chances are it isn't the right fit. Have a look at your child's foot at the end of a long day playing, is there redness and indentation in any specific areas?

Take a little extra time when buying shoes for your little one and don't always settle for the cheapest or most fashionable. This is one of the most crucial times for development and ill-fitting shoes are the biggest contributor to foot problems later on on life.

At eight years, the bones in the toes and mid-foot are developing and beginning to fuse together. These will still take a further ten years to fully fuse. This is when searching for the right school shoes and keeping an eye out for problems is really important. Get your child's foot properly measured and fitted by a professional and don't be tempted to purchase a size too big, it may save you money in the short term but long term the health repercussions are definitely not worth it.

In adulthood, the bones of the foot are now fully formed with only small gaps between them, Although damage can still occur, the foot is far more resilient

The best tips I can give you for purchasing shoes for children are;

* As patience testing as it can be, make sure your child is with you when you shop for their shoes.

* Visit a store with qualified staff who can measure and fit your child's foot for you.

* Accept the fact that you will need to buy shoes often, children's feet grow incredibly fast.

* Embrace your inner hippy and let your baby go barefoot as much as possible (avoiding the cold of course)

* Don't be tempted to buy too big.

* Where possible, buy leather.

* Remember to care for your children's feet as you would the rest of their health, feet are very important!

{The Clarks Website is fantastic for giving you a guide on fittings and measurements, Clarks is also where I received my training for footwear fitting.}

I hope that has given you a little insight to the world of shoes and foot development in children. If Stellas love for shoes continues to grow, I may find myself working alongside her 'fairy-shoe-mother' again in order to fund her fetish!

Plenty of love, 

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