We all know how important it that babies and children wear correctly fitted shoes. LBP interviewed Jenni Foster (Technical Development Manager) who works alongside the shoe designers and manufacturers to create footwear for kids and for parents.
What is your role Jenni? :
Understanding the unique developmental milestones of children’s biomechanics – focussing on the feet and how they engage with the whole body. Applying this into how shoes need to fit around this using biomechanical analysis, fitting data and ethnographical research in current environments.
Areas of Expertise:
A detailed knowledge of biomechanics and physiological testing, following an honours degree in Sports Engineering and seven years in the performance footwear industry. Jenni combines performance led product development with comprehensive user interaction to produce footwear that will keep up with children’s energetic lives and their fast changing physical dynamics. This footwear must enable adventure and exceed all expectations on testing standards.
Fast facts on feet:
- Babies feet grow naturally and develop to their best potential when left well alone. Until a baby is crawling there is no need to protect their soft feet other than with loose fitting socks that are not restrictive around the ankle.
- Pre-walker shoes are specifically designed to protect the baby’s strength and balance development without interference. The shoe needs to adapt to the child’s foot so must be highly flexible.
- Purchasing the first pair of shoes should come when their explorations take them outdoors or they are getting faster on their feet. This will be around nine months old.
- Reflexes change as a baby develops into a child and initially the child’s walking pattern includes ‘up and down’ knee movements. Their foot strikes the floor very flat and without any heel strike as they ‘stomp’ around.
- First walking shoes must help the toddler move freely. If a shoe is too stiff or restrictive the child’s development can be compromised. Stiff shoes can cause a more lateral stride, more foot elevation, less stability and more heel strikes. This will send the wrong messages to the brain and can hinder natural development.
- From nine months and all the way through primary school you should check your children’s foot size every six weeks.
- At around four to five years old, children start to walk a little more like an adult and foot shape changes to accommodate this. The arch starts to take shape and by the age of six years it is usually developed.
- Young children need effective stimuli to help muscles and bones develop healthily. Ill-fitting footwear at primary school can have a huge effect on healthy development.
- A child’s gait may not mature till the age of 13 and the connective tissue in a child’s foot will reach adult levels of stability by 15.