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What is fitted footwear?
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The importance of fitted footwear
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Caring for children's feet
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What to look for when buying kid's shoes
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Children's foot health and development
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Advice on kids shoes - how to keep your children's feet healthy

How can you keep your children's feet healthy?

The human foot is a biological masterpiece. It is complex, containing lots of bones, ligaments and tendons. Did you know that foot problems are among the most common things that cause us pain and discomfort? That's why the right shoes - and the correct shoe fit - are so important for healthy feet.

Studies carried out in the UK show that at least three-quarters of the population experiences foot problems of some degree of seriousness at some time in their lives; therefore, it is easy to see why keeping your children's feet healthy for life is so very important.

Shoes play an important factor when it comes to our feet. Research has shown that most forefoot problems are not simply inherited, but actually develop in response to wearing poorly styled shoes.

As a parent, it is important to always choose stable, properly fitted shoes of appropriate width, made with leather or canvas uppers. Shoes should also have soles with the right amount of flexibility (but only at the ball of the foot) with plenty of cushioning and room for your toes. Finally, don't forget that well fitting socks and tights are also important to avoid toes being scrunched up in the shoe.

Children's foot development

Children's foot development

A fully formed adult foot has 26 bones, 19 muscles and order 100 ligaments, which take up to 18 years to develop.

Babies feet need protection and support even before they start walking – as well as at each stage of their development as their feet have different needs as they grow.

We’re dedicated to giving you all the information you need to make the right foot care choices for your child. Remember each child is unique and develops in their own time but we hope to help you understand how your child will develop as well as their footwear needs at each stage.

To make it a little easier to find the most relevant stage for you and your child, use the links below to jump to the right age section:

Children's foot development - pre-crawling


Babies feet are different to ours. They don’t have bones yet‚ just soft cartilage, and there is no visible arch. The cartilage is simply surrounded by a fleshy pad and it can easily be moulded into the wrong shape if it's constricted. Even tight socks can damage the foot at this age.

You may have seen lots of cute baby shoes, but don’t be tempted yet. Barefoot is best at this stage.

You’ll notice some very rapid developments at this stage. Your child will grow strong enough to support their own head‚ and they will learn to roll over and sit on their own. They are getting ready to start moving around.

Children's foot development -crawling


When babies start to crawl and shuffle, and pull themselves up to standing, you're at a new stage of development. They'll hold onto your hands, furniture, and anything else they come across.

Children's feet are still extremely delicate, so it pays to protect them against cuts and scrapes, or even bruises from hard floors, although barefoot is still best where possible.

Some childcare facilities insist that babies in their care wear foot protection but unless you have to, don't be tempted to put them in proper shoes just yet as their feet aren't ready for them. Remember too that at this young age, the nerve endings in babies' feet have hardly developed at all and given that your child may not be able to tell you that their feet are sore or squashed they will need footwear with lots of room to grow.

Features and benefits of Start-Rite pre-walking shoes

Choosing babies pre-walkers

Start-Rite has a special range of pre-walkers designed just for this in-between stage, allowing free movement with gentle support and protection to their toes and heels.

However, remember that not all babies crawl - some start walking straight away, so don't worry if it doesn't seem to be happening. For those who do crawl and shuffle, it's a fascinating time. They can get into all kinds of interesting places, and they can get their hands on lots more too (so keep a close eye on them!)

While they can't walk independently, they usually get around with a little help from someone's hands, a piece of furniture or a push along toy.

You could try some of these activities to help your baby develop:
• Place a cushion on the floor so your baby can climb over it.
• Make a game of pointing to an object or toy and let your baby crawl to it.
• Use verbal encouragement when they are moving about - some babies are 'listeners' and respond well to your voice.
• Push-pull toys are good practice and provide support to learn to walk.

Start-Rite has a range of pre-walkers designed just for this in-between stage, allowing free movement with gentle support and protection to their toes and heels.

Children's foot development - first walking shoes

First steps

When babies are walking indoors and outdoors unaided for much of the day, their feet need more support and protection. They are now ready for their first walking shoes.

It's an emotional moment seeing your child in their first pair of walking shoes, but make sure you combine style, quality and fit. Never compromise on fit, because a toddler's nerve endings are not developed yet so they may not notice or feel pain or discomfort caused by ill-fitting shoes, and may not be able to complain even if they do.

Features and benefits of Start-Rite first walking shoes

Choosing first walking shoes

At this age, children's feet can grow really quickly so you should plan to check the fit of the shoes every six - eight weeks.

Children develop walking skills at different times and your child's first steps may take place at any time between seven months and two years of age. Things are a bit wobbly to start with, but improvements will come soon enough.

Here are some activities to help your toddler develop:

• Walking on uneven surfaces like sand makes muscles work harder and is good for feet. It's also a nice soft landing!
• Climbing is also great for coordination, independence and muscle development - let them exercise by climbing onto the sofa or up the stairs (carefully supervised, of course).
• For less active babies, play a game of 'Catch me' - crawl on the floor so they follow you.

Children's foot development -toddling and pre-school

Toddling and pre-school

At this stage your child is much more confident, walking independently and spending a lot of time on their feet.

Your child will be growing up fast and getting out and about more now, involved in all sorts of activities. But the bones in their feet are still forming, so correctly fitted footwear is still really important.

You may need (and want!) shoes for different occasions, but remember to get these correctly fitted too. Their feet are growing quickly, so don't simply buy the same size as the last pair.

Features and benefits of Start-Rite pre-school shoes

Choosing the best toddler shoes

Sandals and canvas are a great alternative for warmer weather, allowing fresh air to circulate around your child's feet, and we offer a range of styles with multiple adjustments, lightweight & flexible soles and our canvas are machine washable.

Once your child is at this stage, you should plan to check the fit of the shoes every two to three months and measure their feet to see if they’ve grown.

Your child has more controlled movements now and has probably mastered walking, running, skipping, hopping and jumping. Activities that require co-ordination are good now and you can try combining different skills instead of just one action.

Some children love physical activity, while others tend to avoid it. Either way, it's good to encourage them to be active, because physical activity gives children the confidence to enjoy group situations.

You could try these activities to help your child develop:

• Parent and child swimming classes.
• Play with sponge balls: throwing, catching and kicking are good for exercise and hand eye co-ordination.
• Dance with your child, using different energy levels and musical styles.
• Visit your local park or playground - great for large-muscle activity like climbing and balancing, and for observing others and trying new things.
• Going to the ice rink for skating and balancing.
• Ask your child to help with chores like gardening and sweeping.
• Depending on their ability, you may be able to take the training wheels off their first bike.
• Encourage playing outdoors as much as possible.
• Let them play all-sorts of games with other children like tag, hide and seek and ball games, or even better, make up their own games.
• Some children like games with accompanying songs or rhymes, like skipping or hopscotch.

Children's foot development - school age


Before you know it, it's time for school. The last thing your child needs to worry about is uncomfortable school shoes, because they'll be wearing them day in, day out, for up to eight hours a day.

Thankfully, you never need to worry about that with Start-Rite school shoes. We can help with choosing the right school shoe.

All of the knowledge we’ve learnt from our research is poured into every pair, making them super comfy as well as ultra-durable. We’ve worked with specialist biomechanics and podiatrists to ensure our shoes are suitable for children (and not just scaled down versions of adult shoes) and help the development of the whole body – not just the feet! Check out the science behind the shoes to discover more.

Features and benefits of Start-Rite school shoes

Choosing the right fitted school shoes

The older children get, the more style-conscious they become but these days you don't have to sacrifice fashion for fit. Our school shoes look good and comply with school uniform regulations, as well as offering all important features.

Once your child is of school age, you should check the fit of their school shoes every three or four months. We have great at-home measuring tools enabling you to get the right size whilst avoid the queues!

We also offer a variety of school shoes that look good and fit well and for older children from eight to 12 years old. We have designed and developed the Rhino and Angry Angels brands, which have ranges specifically designed to meet the school footwear needs of this more fashion-conscious age group, combined with the reassurance of whole and half sizes, multi-width fittings and the superior quality for which we’re renowned -school shoes that are gentle on feet, tough and durable, and designed to be outgrown, not outworn.

School brings new activities: walking to school, running around the playground, playing team sports and organised activities which often combine a number of movements and skills.

You could try these activities to help your child develop:
• Encourage your child to join in a team sport like football, netball or basketball.
• Teach your child to skate on roller blades or a skateboard.
• Go out for country walks or bike rides as a family, with the enticement of a picnic.
• A mini-trampoline is a fun way to get a good workout.