Children’s feet grow on average two sizes per year in the first four years of their life and one size per year after, until growth is complete. Yet, a child’s foot may not grow for a long period of time and then grow several sizes in a rather short period. Feet need to be measured every eight weeks in order to make sure that shoes still fit properly for length and width.
Generally, the main period of accelerated growth for girls is between 8 – 13 years with the peak rate at approximately 12 years. For boys, the main period is between 10.5 – 16 years with the peak rate at approximately 14.
Checking that your child’s shoes fit properly is best done by the shop where the shoes will be bought, using a special measuring tool. Keep a file with the dates and foot measurements of your children’s feet.
An easy way to check the shoe’s length yourself is to cut a strip of paper at the same length as the inside of the shoe. Place this against the wall/floor corner and get the child to stand on it. Measure the distance between the longest toe and the end of the strip of paper. A good fitted shoe will be approximately 12 to 16 mm longer than the longest toe to allow for growth and the foot elongating when walking. Shoes that are only 5 mm longer should be regarded as too short and replaced.
Not all parents are able to afford several pairs of everyday shoes for their child. Ideally, different shoes should be worn on alternate days to allow the shoe to dry out, as children’s feet can be very sweaty. Wearing damp shoes all the time can make the child more prone to athlete’s foot and verrucae (warts).
Children tend to accept and adapt to what they regard as normal. Peer group pressure and fashion trends may also be a reason children will not complain of ill-fitting shoes. This is why it is important that the feet are measured by a professional and regular checks are carried out, especially for very young children.
There are four main warning signs to look for when checking your child’s feet. The skin, the nails, deformities and posture.
- Skin: look for areas of redness and rashes particularly between the toes, on the arches and the heels indicating athlete’s foot, especially if they are itchy. Look for red marks and/or blisters at the back of the heel and on the tops of the small joints of the toes indicating ill-fitting shoes. Hard, painful lumps on the soles of the feet may be verrucae (warts).
- Nails: any signs of inflammation around the nails should be taken seriously, as it may be due to an infection. Any discoloration of the toenails should be checked by your podiatrist or paediatrician.
- Deformities: toes should always be straight in line with the foot and not drawn back or bent. The fifth toe may tuck under the fourth slightly and the fourth under the third toe but the big toe should be straight.
- Posture: if the feet are turning inside or outside in an exacerbated manner or the arch looks very flat and the child complains of pain, you will need to seek for podiatry advice.
Make sure the podiatrist you are consulting is registered with the Cyprus Association of Registered Podiatrists and holds a registration certificate from the Ministry of Health.
Source: The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists