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Frequently Asked Questions - Children's Footwear and Their Feet

1.  How often do I need to change my child’s shoes?
This depends on the child and their age.  On average children’s feet grow two sizes per year in the first four years of life and one size per year thereafter until growth is complete. However, this does vary.  Ideally you should check every 8 weeks.
2.  How can I check that my child’s shoes fit properly?
An easy way to check the length is to cut a strip of paper by tracing their insole. Place this against the wall and get the child to stand on it. Measure the distance between the longest toe and the end of the piece of paper. A newly fitted shoe will be approximately 12 – 16 mm longer than the longest toe to allow for growth and the foot elongating when walking. Shoes that are only 5mm longer should be regarded as too short and replaced.
3.  Should my child wear the same shoes everyday?
Not everyone is able to afford several pairs of everyday shoes for their child. Ideally, different shoes should be worn on every second day to allow the shoe to dry out, as children’s feet can be particularly sweaty. Wearing damp shoes all the time can lead to athlete’s foot and plantar warts.
4.  What socks are best?
The sock should fit and be the same size as the shoe.  100% cotton is best, particularly if the child has skin problems. Most cotton socks contain a small percentage of nylon (50/50 mix is best). Avoid 100% nylon socks as they will make the foot sweat and do not absorb moisture.
5.  Are there any warning signs I should look for when I check my child’s feet?
These can be broken down into four areas. These are skin, nails, deformities and posture.
Skin – look for areas of redness and rashes particularly between the toes, in the arches and below the ankle bones.  This indicates athlete’s foot, particularly 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. Raised and painful hard masses on the soles of the feet may indicate a plantar wart.
Nails – any inflammation around the nails should be taken seriously as it may indicate infection. Any discolouration of the toenails should be checked by your chiropodist or podiatrist.
Deformities - Toes should always be straight in line with the foot and not drawn back or curled. The fifth toe may tuck under the fourth slightly and the fourth under the third toe but the big toe should also be straight.
Posture – If the feet appear to be excessively turned in or out or the arch looks very flat, particularly if the child complains of pain; see your chiropodist or podiatrist.
Source:, August 19, 2009
Produced by the Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine 1-888-706-4444

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