Kate Whittingham-Jones of If The Shoe Fits of Corsham outlines the importance of children having properly fitted shoes
A properly fitted shoe is vital to one’s health, especially for children, and it’s the reason why we opened If The Shoe Fits in Corsham, offering professional measuring and shoe fitting for children and adults.
In the early years, when children’s feet are still developing and forming, it is important to ensure the best possible fit, as a poor fit will affect how the feet grow, as well as a the way a child walks. A child’s foot is not completely formed (the term is ossified) until they are 17 or 18 years old, so measuring and fitting is as important in the teen years as it is in the toddler years. As we always tell our customers, there are only two pieces of clothing that can damage your health, one of them is a bra, the other is your shoes!
We always talk about measuring and fitting – the two are not exclusive! The gauge is only a starting point in the process. So many parents believe that by buying a gauge they can work out the correct size for their child, or by asking a shoe-fitter to measure they can take that measurement and buy online. It isn’t actually that easy! While a gauge measures two dimensions, the foot is of course three dimensional, and that’s where the challenge starts. You need to understand the shape of foot, the formation of the toes, height of the arches (there are four on each foot!), position of the ankle bones and the style of the shoe.
At If The Shoe Fits we have an excellent understanding of the design of each type of shoe that we stock and how it will work with a child’s foot. For example, some shoes have deeper or wider toe boxes, while others have narrower ones. Certain styles just don’t work with narrow feet, others are ideal for orthotics.
Parents often baulk at the price of good shoes for children, but consider this – as much labour goes into the making of children’s shoes as adults. A good brand will be available in half sizes and most likely in width fittings to ensure the best possible fit, which means for each size of shoe (and there are over 20 children’s sizes!), a manufacturer will have to invest in two to five lasts (the item upon which a shoe is formed). This means that they can’t rely on running off hundreds of thousands of each size in order to minimise the costs. So actually, £35 to £45 is actually pretty good value!
And we never advise passing shoes down. It may seem like economic sense, but it’s not worth the long term effects on the feet. Shoes mould and adapt to the wearer – just think about how the soles wear on adult shoes. This means that the support and shape for the second wearer will not be appropriate to their foot.
Children’s feet should be measured about once a month. That’s not to say they grow at that rate – but it’s worth checking. On average a child will go through four half sizes a year, and by measuring monthly we can make sure we grab that growth as soon as it happens. Feet have to last a lifetime – they are worth the investment.