The Importance of Being Fitted

Watching your baby take those precious first steps is a moment that will live long in the memory, and is often the trigger to start thinking about shoes, however, my first piece of advice is, do not rush.

First Steps, First Shoes and Beyond

At birth, a baby’s foot is predominantly cartilage, soft and malleable. Over the coming years, as the feet grow and develop, this cartilage gradually forms into bone, a process called ossification, which isn’t complete until the late teens, even early twenties. The feet remain vulnerable throughout this time, so wearing correctly-fitted shoes, particularly in the early years, is crucial to ensuring a lifetime of pain-free, healthy feet.

As your little one starts to explore the world from a new perspective, chances are they are doing so in a relatively safe environment. The sole of the foot has more nerve-endings per sqcm than anywhere else on the body. This sensitive surface sends vital information to the brain about the ground underfoot, so being barefoot or in a pair of socks with grips, will enable them to progress unhindered.

It is only when their little feet need protection that shoes become necessary, which is usually once they want to start walking when out and about. During these early stages, a soft, lightweight, flexible prewalker that allows the foot and leg to move as naturally as possible is often the best choice. As they become more confident on their feet, moving at speed and generating greater impact with each stride, a slightly more supportive and structured shoe, with a robust sole, is the next step.

It is important to realise that young children’s feet are not a smaller version of an adult’s. They are almost triangular in shape, narrower at the heel and wider at the toes, and usually covered in a protective layer of baby fat. Shoes need to match the shape of the foot, with plenty of wriggle room for those tiny toes. Mini-versions of adult styles do not usually provide a good fit.

It is not uncommon for toddlers to walk slightly on the edges of their feet, on their tip-toes or to look bowlegged. As children grow and their bodies align many of these conditions will naturally correct themselves and generally only start to cause concern if they continue beyond the age of three. Similarly the arch of the foot does not become visible until around this age when children are more active and their foot starts to slim down. However, if you notice anything about the way your child moves that causes you concern it is always worth mentioning to your GP or visiting a podiatrist to check and hopefully put your mind at rest.

As a rough guide, once your child is walking unaided, the advice is to have their feet measured every 6-8 weeks up to the age of four and every 10-12 weeks thereafter. On average, feet grow two sizes a year up to the age of four, then slow to one size a year. Around the age of 12, their feet will be 90% of their full size and fully grown by their mid-teens. Then begins the final stages of the bones fusing together and hardening, which is usually complete by the late teens.

Just like clothes, there is no standardisation of shoe sizes or the gauges used to measure feet, so you cannot assume that all shoes in a certain size will fit the foot, let alone provide a good fit! There are many factors that influence how a shoe will fit the foot and it is the job of the shoe fitter to use their knowledge and experience to help you find the perfect pair of shoes for your little one’s feet. 

CeCe & Me is a mobile kid’s shoe shop based in SW London, with the aim of making kid’s shoe shopping a more convenient, relaxed and stress-free experience!  

The preschool range includes Ricosta, Bobux, Froddo, Pediped and Camper, from prewalkers to size UK10 (EU28), and the school shoes range covers sizes UK8-2.5 (EU26-35). Appointments and home visits can be booked online, or you can visit one of the regular pop-up venues, listed on the website. 

My name is Sam, I am a qualified shoe fitter endorsed by the Society of Shoe Fitters and the Children’s Foot Health Register, and I am always happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s feet or footwear.

Sam from Cece&Me will be at The Baby Cot Shop on Thursday, the 27th of June. If you would like your child to be fitted please book your time slot on our website. Or call us on 020 3371 7530 to book over the phone.

The shoe fitting is free and refreshments will be served.

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