File photo: The College of Podiatry recommends children under 11 should not regularly wear flip flops, ballet pumps or plimsolls as they do not support the foot.

Thousands of parents are causing permanent damage to their children’s feet by putting them in inappropriate shoes, research suggests.

They are buying high heels for girls as young as six, young boys are wearing flip flops – and many mothers and fathers put off buying new shoes even when children grow out of their current pair.

The College of Podiatry recommends children under 11 should not regularly wear flip flops, ballet pumps or plimsolls as they do not support the foot.

And they should not wear shoes with heels higher than 2cm because they put too much pressure on the ball of the foot. Yet polling by the college revealed 29 percent of parents have bought children these types. And 40 percent had put off buying a new pair – even if their child had complained of foot pain.

About 55 percent of children had suffered injuries by wearing shoes which were either too small or unsuitable.

Dr Stewart Morrison, a podiatrist from the College of Podiatry and the University of Brighton, said: "Wearing the wrong size or type of shoe in the short-term causes blisters, rubbing, bruising and callouses, but in the long term it could affect foot development..."