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Guide to buying shoes for children

FIT small feet

* Always get children's feet measured when buying new shoes (only a third of children are average fit). Return after a few months to have the fit re-checked. During growth spurts, a child can grow two sizes in a term.

* Don't buy shoes with more than the recommended "growing room" - they are a false economy, as they can cause numerous problems while the child grows into them.

* Ensure that toenails are cut at least once a month, straight across to prevent thickened or ingrowing toenails. Check sock size regularly, too, as socks can shrink and affect nail and toe growth.

* Act quickly and, if necessary, consult a podiatrist if you suspect a problem. This can worsen rapidly as a child's foot grows and may cause permanent deformities if it is ignored.

* Don't allow older children to have heels higher than 3cm except for very occasional use.

Fit big feet

* Ensure that soles are thick enough to provide adequate shock absorption, to limit wear and tear on the joints: We were designed to walk on earth, not concrete.

* Check your fit: It is not only children's feet that change over time. There should always be room to wiggle your toes.

* If you suffer pain regularly, have your feet checked. Pain is not normal, even if you have been on your feet all day.

* Choose shoes with a lace, buckle or Velcro fastening: Support over the instep is necessary to stop the foot sliding and squeezing at the front.

* Have two pairs of shoes for regular use, so that they can dry out: A foot has more than 200,000 sweat glands and can produce an eggcup of sweat in a day. Sweat can exacerbate skin and nail problems - and old sweat can rot shoes.

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