How to choose children’s shoes

Suri Cruise may set the trend for little girls to wear heels, but if your little one follows suit she may face a lifetime of foot troubles.

According to the South African Podiatry Association, heels higher than 1.5 cm for children under the age of 16 can lead to developmental deformities. Do not allow young girls to wear even little heels! A small heel on a young child is equivalent to a higher heel in an adult, and can interfere with natural foot, ankle, knee, hip and spinal structural development. 

Choosing shoes for children

  • Children's shoes should have laces, velcro or some other fastening system. As a general rule, avoid backless or slip-on shoes for kids.
  • Look for shoes made from breathable materials, such as canvas or leather. In addition to being more durable, they will help to keep the child's foot cooler and drier, helping to prevent blisters, discomfort and smelly shoes.
  • While they may look cute, always avoid heels on children's shoes. Not only is it difficult for kids to walk in heels, they are particularly bad for proper foot development. When it comes to children's shoes, stick with flats and even soles.
  • Look for a patterned or textured sole, as this will provide traction and help prevent your child from easily slipping on slick surfaces.
  • Soles should be sturdy and thick enough to protect the feet from pain and injury, but the sole also needs to be flexible, so that it will bend with the foot.

Remember that the human foot is a very complicated part of the body and the feet of young children are soft and pliable, so abnormal pressures can easily cause the foot to deform. The foot of a child grows rapidly during the first year, reaching almost half their adult foot size. This is a crucial time for the development of healthy feet.

Visit Health24's Feet Centre

(Health24, Ncumisa Magadla, October 2011)

Sources: SAPA,, MailOnline ,

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