Indoor/ pram shoe for baby or toddler not walking: Smaller range
Indoor slipper (newborn to 24 months): Smaller range
Outdoor shoe for crawling baby/ toddler: See Kai Run range (leather shoes and sneakers)
First walker shoe: See Kai Run (leather shoes and sneakers)
Advanced walker (size US 8/ two years onwards): Kai range
Kinder/ daycare shoe: See Kai Run and Kai sneakers (Kai sneakers available early 2013)
When our babies are born we marvel that their little ears, hands and feet are adults in miniature. But looks can be deceptive. At birth of the bones in your baby’s feet are yet to develop; a number of the 26 bones in the feet are still just nubs of cartilage. The best way to picture the bones is as small stubs of soft modeling clay. A soft cushion of fat surrounds these bones.
In the next three years these little feet with undergo an amazing amount of change. The cartilage nubs will develop into bone and, in turn, these bones will undergo rotation to form the joints of the foot. The joints in the foot and ankle the leg bones all rotate to bring the foot from the very flat, ‘rolled inwards’ position at birth to a straighter position with an arch. During these early years the muscles within the foot are also developing and becoming stronger.
There are also significant rotations going on in the leg bones and the hip, all to bring the lower limbs from their ‘fit into the womb’ position to the proper position for weight-bearing and walking.
As these changes happen over a number of years, your child’s foot will still be in the midst of all the changes when he or she starts walking. Ideally, children would spend most of their time in bare feet but of course this isn’t very practical. The next best thing is a shoe that is as close to bare feet as possible while providing protection from hot pavements, wet playgrounds and stubbed toes.
It’s absolutely critical that the shoes you purchase for your baby, toddler and pre-schooler do not interfere with this development. Our Smaller, See Kai Run and Kai are the ideal choice for your child as they allow normal foot development to occur. This is why our range has the prestigious seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association.
In past generations parents were told the shoe needed to be stiff to ‘support’ the foot. In fact some new mums are still given this out-dated advice. The only time a stiffer shoe is recommended is if the child has a foot problem such as over-pronation (excessive ‘rolling-in’) diagnosed by a podiatrist or pediatrician. Remember, a stiff shoe is designed to hold the foot in a set position. But children’s feet change as the foot develops so a stiff shoe can impede this normal development.
|For children with normally developing feet — and remember in the first few years a flat looking foot is normal — the shoe needs to protect the foot without putting pressure on the top, sides or ends of the feet. The soles of the shoes also need to be very flexible. A very stiff shoe can prevent the development of normal heel to toe walking. Instead, many children walking in shoes with stiff soles simply lift and plonk their feet down.|
While the most significant foot development occurs in the first three years, children’s feet will continue to develop for some years to come so choosing the right shoe remains of great importance throughout childhood.
You will have heard of ‘growing pains’. It’s not uncommon for older children to develop growing pains in the legs and feet and this is usually caused by growth spurts. The bones tend to grow faster than the muscles so the muscles often become tight.
The problem is these muscles attach to bone. In children these muscle attachments tend to occur over ‘growth plates’, the plate of bone that enables bones to keep growing. When the tight muscle pulls on these growth plates it causes irritation and pain. So it’s very important children’s shoes don’t exacerbate this problem. From two or three years of age shoes should provide some support while still retaining flexibility and width to accommodate growing and changing feet. The Kai range is ideal for children from around two to six as they have the same features as the See Kai Run range, just with a slightly sturdier sole and leather uppers to accommodate the increased activity levels of toddlers, pre-schoolers and young school children.
Both the See Kai Run and Kai ranges are also level from the toe to the heel. This is important as shoes with a raised heel can lead to tight calf and hamstring muscles which can lead to or exacerbate the ‘growing pains’ described earlier.
Some children have very wide, chubby feet; others have a more narrow foot with a higher instep. So there is not one shoe style to suit all feet types. When children first start to walk these differences can make shoe-buying a stressful experience. But the See Kai Run range of first walkers can accommodate almost all foot types. We use two different techniques for making our shoes to help tailor the perfect fit:
Smaller, See Kai Run or Kai?
Smaller or See Kai Run? The Smaller range is a pre-walker, designed for babies who not yet walking or who are starting to pull themselves up, stand and cruise around furniture.
For very small babies/ older babies who are not yet pulling themselves up to stand or getting ready to walk, parents buy baby booties to keep little feet warm and protected. Even in these early stages it’s critical to choose a shoe, which doesn’t interfere with foot development which is why the Smaller range is a healthy foot choice.
The Smaller range is intended for indoor use and light outdoor use in dry conditions. Once a child is walking confidently (usually a few weeks after starting to walk) it’s time for them to move onto the See Kai Run range which is more suitable for outdoor use.
See Kai Run or Kai? You will note there is cross-over between the See Kai Run and Kai ranges, with See Kai Run range going up to US 9 and Kai starting at US 8. The Kai range is suitable for children aged two to six years. If your two year old is a US 8 or above and is very active then the Kai range is recommended. Under two years the See Kai Run range is usually more suitable as this is the time when the foot is undergoing rapid development and change and a more flexible shoe is idela. But of course, it’s very dependent on the child. There are some 22 month olds who are tall for their age and extremely active who may be better suited to the Kai range.
Stitched sole shoes are ideal for children with chubbier feet as they tend to be wider in the toe-box. The stitched sole shoes are also often better for babies and toddlers who have just started walking as the construction of these shoes allows more flexibility than shoes with cemented soles. However, if the child has a narrow foot the stitched sole may be too wide for him or her. The exception can be loafer-style shoes.
Cemented soled shoes are ideal for children with average to narrow feet. But you may need to try a few different styles to find the one that fits best, particularly with the girls’ sandals and Mary Jane styles. Remember, a little bit of gaping is not a problem given the ideal is for the shoe not to press against the side or top of the foot. If the child can walk comfortably, their heel is not slipping out of the shoe and the overall look is still aesthetically acceptable, you can be reassured that a little bit of a gap between the foot and the top of the shoe can actually be a good thing.
It’s critical that you leave be 0.5-1cm of space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. If the shoe is too short the foot will be compressed which will impede normal foot development. It will also prevent the muscles of the foot from functioning properly (they won’t be able to lengthen or contract properly) so they won’t develop maximum strength to support the arch of the foot.
Make sure you check the length of the shoe after the child has had a walk around. Ideally he or she should be wearing the socks or stockings they will be wearing with the shoes (or in bare-feet in summer).
Always measure both feet. Nearly all of us have one foot bigger than the other. You should use the biggest foot to determine the right space, which means there may be more than 1 cm of space between the smaller foot and the end of the shoe.
IMPORTANT: Remember to check the size every two to three months. If there is only a few mm of space left at the end it’s time for the next size. As young children’s feet are very soft and malleable it’s very easy to keep squeezing them into a shoe that is one or even two sizes too small.
HANDY TIP: When your child goes up a shoe size it’s also time to review whether they also need the next size up in socks. Tight socks can also interfere with healthy foot development.
If a child is between sizes, See Kai Run recommends the child be fitted with the bigger size. In many cases this is the best advice and parents find the feet soon grow to fill the ‘extra’ space.