Facts about children's foot development and shoes.

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The aim of this guide is to help parents make an informed decision about the type of shoes they purchase for thier children and how it affects their foot development. Putting on the right size now, can prevent a lot of problems later in life, so here are some facts to guide you.

FACT #1: Did you know that children's feet keep growing till they are about 18?
For this reason it is advisable that they wear well fitted footwear, their feet should be checked and measured every three to four months and footwear replaced as soon as it has been outgrown. Most feet problems that adults encounter is due to a lack of proper feet care when they were younger. Put quality footwear on your children's feet and they will thank you for it in the future.

FACT #2: Why does my child's shoe not last long enough?
There is a common myth that shoes are meant to last a long while with children. The truth however is that in children, the average life of a pair of shoes is 4 months depending on the quality of the shoes. So you are getting exceptional value for money when you buy a pair of shoes that lasts 6 months? "Often overlooked by parents is that active children impose enormous abuse on shoes. The average active child will take about 20000 "steps" a day covering a distance of nearly eight miles. These are not ordinary walking steps as taken by an adult, but stomping, running, jumping, skidding, twisting, scuffing, kicking steps that severely punish the shoes. Also these shoes are exposed to gravel, rocks, pavement, chemicals, grime, water and soil." "If the shoes give three months of satisfactory wear under those gruelling conditions, the child would have covered a distance of about 700 miles." "If the shoes are priced at say £30, that averages out to a little over 4p a mile - certainly the cheapest transportation that can be purchased." New shoes should be purchased not primarily on the basis of being outworn but on being outgrown.

FACT #3: Are Hand-me-downs to be avoided at all cost?
This is a controversial matter. However, when a parent is confronted with a budget problem - and sometimes a choice of hand-me-downs or no shoes at all - you have to deal not with what's "best" but with what's realistically practical. In the case of infants' shoes the problem of hand me downs to next youngest child is not that serious. Usually these shoes have only been worn for a short period. The small child has usually made little "imprint" inside the shoe, nor has it otherwise put the shoe out of shape. Thus, when economic conditions leave no choice, the hand-me-down shoe is not going to be a serious problem. To be on the safe side always have it inspected by a speacialist shoe fitter.

FACT #4: Do you know that one of your feet might be bigger than the other?
Yes this is true, and that is why it is advisable to have both feet measured when buying a new pair of shoes for your self or your children. Also, a size 10 in Clarks is not the same as a size 10 in Ravel. It is only used a standard guide, however the materials and the shape of the shoe last (model on which the shoe is constructed) determines the final fit of the shoe, that is why some of us can wear 2 or more sizes of shoes, and all will be comfortable.

FACT #5: Are high heel shoes suitable for children?
Provided that it is not used as an everyday footwear, it is not advisable for children to wear high heels everyday. You might ask why? Since children's feet are not fully developed until mid twenties. In high heels the weight and stress on the feet shift forward, and bearing in mind that the feet are not fully developed at this stage it could lead to permanent damage because the feet are unable at this stage to fully bear the added weight and stress placed on it.

FACT #6: Are expensive designer shoes necessarily the best?
The answer is no, but that is not to say some designer shoes are not well made. However, one can make a mistake by choosing a well made design that does not fit the feet of your child properly. So make sure the shape of the shoes you select for your children are similar to the shape of the child's feet. Remember shoes made from natural materials are the best for children's feet.

FACT #7: Outgrown shoes, how problematic could they be?
Many parents and shoe retailers fail to recognise how serious the outgrown shoe problem reall is. Several years ago a survey was conducted in the United States among stores that sell children's shoes. they were asked to test the fit of old or worn shoes of children in the store to buy new shoes. It was found that over 75% of the cases were outgrown to varying degrees. Furthermore, it was estimated by the fitters that over half of the children had been wearing outgrown shoes from one to three months, even though the shoe was of proper size when fitted. At Tender Steps a lot of children we fit are just changing shoes that have been long outgrown. It is no wonder that many doctors and chiropodists believe that many or most adult foot problems begin in childhood and that many of these problems are caused directly or indirectly by habitual wearing of outgrown shoes during substantial periods in childhood. It is therefore important that parents check their children's shoes from time to time to make sure that they are not outgrown and cause damage to their feet later in their adult life.

FACT #8: How do I care for wet or damp shoes?
This is common with children's shoes. It is not uncommon to quick dry the shoes over a hot radiator or in a tumble dryer, especiallly if it is the child's only pair and has to be worn the next day. At Tender Steps we will advice against this practice, since quick drying causes the toe to curl upand the shoe and leather to shrink. This can reduce the shoe by one full size when the shoe is put on again, it can also damage the leather fibres and sometimes crack the leather. Shoes should always be dried at room temperature, and possibly with shoe trees inserted during the drying to prevent curling or shrinkage.

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