As your child's arches develop you may notice a need for more arch support in a shoe. Everyone thinks it is easy to tell if a shoe is more supportive or more natural, by visualization, but the most supportive shoes are often the ones in which you cannot physically see a bump. Below, you will see 2 insoles from 2 different pairs of shoes (the logos have been blurred to protect our brands--keep in mind, we love and support both of these shoes and companies).
If you look at the images, it would appear that the white insole has a better "arch" than the black one. However, just because a shoe has a visible bump in the place of the arch, it does not mean that the shoe has good arch support. The flatter black insole is actually from a shoe that we know to have the most arch support on the children's shoe market while the white one is from a company that makes more natural and flexible shoes. The reason companies put "bumps" on the insole is strictly just to mold it to the foot's shape.
The proper way to test the support in a shoe is to perform 2 "tests". The first is the Twist Test: hold any shoe in both hands and twist the toe away from your body and the heel towards it. The harder it is to twist, the more supportive the shoe is.
The second test is to push on the heel counter at the back. The harder it is to push the heel counter, the more supportive the shoe will be, overall. In the first photo, I am pushing as hard as I can and the heel is barely moving. In the second one, I am not exerting much force, but the heel has completely collapsed.
**Again, I am not saying that either shoe is better or worse, because they are commonly used for very different types of feet. These shoes are simply an example of extreme support and more natural support.**
Does my Toddler Need Arch Support?
You do not know how many times a day I get this question!
In short, unless your pediatrician or podiatrist has found something wrong with your toddler's foot, no.
Babies are born with flat feet, often covered by a protective layer of fat (although some children can be born with very narrow feet as well). This is healthy and normal! You may notice that most toddler shoes do not appear to have an arch, and this is for a reason.
In most children the arch will not start to develop until they are at least 3 years old. Even at this age, however, arch support is not necessary. The bulk of childhood arch development will take place between the ages of 5-7 with most kids not having a fully developed arch until 8-10 years old.
As far as the risk for developing flat feet is concerned, only 1 to 2 out of 10 children will actually have flat feet, and the support (or lack thereof) of a toddler shoe will not impact it.
Common Shoe Alterations
Here at Little Feet we are committed to providing you with the best possible shoe fitting experience. In order to give you the perfect fit, we might suggest padding or stretching a pair of shoes. A common misconception is that this means the shoe is not a good fit, however, if we recommend adding something, we are simply enhancing an already properly fitting shoe.
Here are some of the ways we customize shoes for you!
Cookie arches are used to build up the arch support of any closed shoe (not sandals). When we glue these small pieces of rubber under an insole, it can help straighten out collapsing arches and add structure for kids with flatter feet. While it is not as custom as an orthotic, it can provide a temporary solution to some common foot issues. We do charge $6 to put cookie arches into a pair of shoes.
How Fast do Kids' Feet Grow?
This is the million dollar question here at Little Feet.
While every child will have their own growing patterns, there are some general guidelines we can follow in order to guess how long a pair of shoes should last.
Notice that there is no size growth range for children over 7. As kids get older, their growth tends to slow, however the size ranges become more sporadic. Since the average life of a pair of shoes is, at maximum, 6 months it is recommended that their feet get measured at this time.
And remember, there is no guarantee that a child's foot will grow according to this chart. Therefore, at Little Feet, we are more than happy to measure your child's feet and check their toes for free!
Growing Room: Why it's Important
According to a 2017 study, nearly ⅔ of all children in the United States wear shoes that are too small. To break it down: of the 2100 participants only 35% were wearing the size for which they were measured, and only 11% were wearing the optimal size with growing room.
So what kind of growing room should you look for?
"Kids need extra space in their shoes. At least ½ an inch of additional room is optimal, allowing them to roll properly through their feet when walking."
Most orthopedists and podiatrists agree that this extra ½ inch provides the best fit for a child's shoe. It allows them to wear the shoe now, but also in a few months. Norman Espinosa, M.D—an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Zurich Balgrist—also agrees that the length of the shoe should exceed the length of the child's foot by at least 10mm; however, 12mm is ideal.
Why are so many children ending up in shoes that don’t fit properly, then?
Firstly, in the original study, more than half of the parents said that this was the first time their child’s feet had been measured. Most of them had depended on visual and sensory tests, which are highly unreliable as the nerves in a child’s feet are not fully developed until they are about 18 years old.
Second, Dr. Espinosa and his researchers found:
“[T]he shoe sizes given by the manufacturers almost never matched with the true sizes measured.”
There is no industry standard for shoe sizing, and if you’ve ever stepped foot in a sit and fit style shoe store, you’ll know that the numbers on the labels are used only as a guideline.
What are some issues caused by small shoes?
Clack, E. E. (2017, November 9). Are Your Kids Wearing Shoes That Are Too Small? New Study Reveals Why 65 Percent Are in Wrong Sizes. Footwear News.
Silverman, L. (2017, November 07). What Can Happen If Your Kids Wear The Wrong Size Shoes: Foot Doctor in Bloomington. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.anklefootmd.com/what-can-happen-if-your-kids-wear-the-wrong-size-shoes/
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