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Babies' feet don't have bones‚ just soft cartilage which can easily be pushed out of shape by badly fitting shoes. Even socks that are too tight can damage their feet at this delicate stage.

Babies feet need protection and support even before they start walking and at each stage of their development their feet have different needs.

Remember each child is unique and develops in their own time.

Here are some handy tips to help you when buying shoes and how to care for them after:

    Never put your child in shoes that are too big or too small, and make sure that all footwear including trainers are properly fitted.
    Don't hand shoes down from one child to another - no two pairs of feet are ever the same shape or size.
    Cut toenails straight across and not too short - don't curve them‚ because this can encourage in-growing toenails.
    Get socks that fit - if they're too tight they will cramp the foot and can even deform it in very young children and if they're too big they can bunch up and cause blisters.
    Choose shoes with natural linings such as leather and socks with a high natural fibre content to allow feet to breathe.
    To keep shoes looking good‚ clean them regularly and apply a good quality polish to keep the leather soft and supple.
    Don't dry wet shoes near direct heat - let them dry out naturally in a warm airy place. It might help to fill them with newspaper for a short time to absorb moisture and help them to keep their shape.
    Try to get shoes that are designed for the purpose your child will use them for, otherwise they may not offer the support or wear you're expecting.
    Getting children to use laces and buckles is an uphill struggle‚ but don't let them force their feet in and out of shoes without unfastening them. Sometimes Velcro fastenings can make life easier for everyone, and they make older children feel grown up because they are putting on their own shoes.