Development FAQ: 12-18 months – Other Advice

My daughter, Jemima, began to walk four weeks ago when she was thirteen months old. She has been wearing soft, leather slipper shoes, but these are not very robust, and I worry that she will hurt her feet when we are outside. I took her to the shoe shop, and the assistant told me that ideally a child should be walking for six weeks before fitting proper shoes. Is this right, and are there any other tips for taking care of my child’s feet that you could recommend?

Current advice recommends that a toddler is walking for six weeks before one buys that very special first pair of shoes. Do ask for guidance offered in a good shoe shop when choosing shoes for the first time. Your daughter’s feet need to be properly measured, and the shoes should ideally have a low cut and a roomy fit. It is tempting to choose cute fashion shoes, but these “off-the-shelf” shoes rarely have width fittings, and cannot guarantee such a good fit. Shoes that are too wide or too narrow can do as much damage to a child’s feet as shoes that are too short or too long.

After your child’s bath, always dry carefully between the toes. Keep toe nails trimmed straight across and not too short, and be careful not to cut down the side of nails. Do check your child’s feet regularly for signs of pressure from shoes and look out for blisters or red patches. Allow your child to go barefoot as much as possible indoors and on the beach. (Seek professional advice if you notice rashes or hard raised areas or if your child complains of itchy feet).

When you buy socks, make sure you buy them the same size as the shoes, and keep an eye that they are not too tight after repeated washing. Do avoid hand-me-down shoes, since ill-fitting shoes can damage a child’s growing foot.