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While stocking up on most back-to-school essentials is relatively easy, hunting for the right school shoes for your child can be a headache. After all, they’ll be worn day in, day out. It’s vital that they’re well-fitting, robust yet comfortable, and unlikely to cause foot problems.

Clearly, there’s a lot to think about when you’re searching for school shoes, which is why we’ve put together this helpful guide to picking the perfect pair for your son or daughter.

Children’s Feet Are at a Crucial Stage

It’s easy to assume that kids’ feet are just mini versions of their parents’, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your child’s feet are at a crucial stage of development; they’re growing rapidly and their bones aren’t as strong as yours.

If children wear badly made, ill-fitting footwear each day at school, their feet risk being damaged or deformed. Friction, pressure and shock can lead to painful or uncomfortable foot conditions, including ingrown toenails, hammertoes, blisters, sores and athlete’s foot. The wrong school shoes can also aggravate developmental issues such as flat feet.

School Shoes Need to Be Properly Fitted

Almost half of UK parents don’t buy their kids’ school shoes in shops with a fitting service, according to a survey by The College of Podiatry. However, the importance of having your child’s feet measured can’t be underestimated when you want to be confident that the shoes you purchase will support foot health. Sports shoes for PE lessons should also be fitted.

What’s more, children need to have their feet re-measured at least every few months (or more often during growth spurts) to ensure they continue to wear footwear in the correct size.

What to Look for When Buying School Shoes

  • Leather uppers: they’re strong enough to withstand plenty of wear and tear, and breathable enough to guard against foot odour.
  • Secure fastenings: laces, Velcro and T-bar straps with buckles hold feet in place comfortably and help to stop them slipping around too much inside the shoes.
  • Rounded fronts: unlike pointed or square fronts, they reflect the natural shape of the toe area. The fronts should give kids enough room to wiggle their toes.
  • Snug-fitting backs: the back of the shoe should support the foot and ankle without being too loose or tight. A snug fit reduces the risk of sprained ankles and prevents toes clawing at shoes to keep them on.
  • Cushioned soles: rubber is ideal on the bottom of school shoes, as it’s tough, flexible, shock-absorbent, and can be moulded into designs that offer great grip.
  • Low heels: school shoes’ heels should never be higher than 4cm; otherwise children are more likely to trip over, hurt their ankles and experience foot pain.

Investing in Your Child’s Foot Health

Flimsy, high-fashion footwear appeals to kids, but it won’t protect their feet. Second-hand options are unsuitable for the same reason. Thankfully, well-known brands such as Clarks and Start-rite make school shoes that are sturdy and stylish. Buying the best you can afford is a good approach, as the shoes are ultimately an investment in your child’s foot health.

When your son or daughter tries on school shoes, check for any signs of limping, clomping or discomfort. In a nutshell, if they’re not ideal, don’t buy them. When you’ve found the right pair, ensure they’re broken in before the school term begins. Another tip is to inspect your child’s feet and shoes regularly so that you can nip any problems in the bud quickly.

Children’s Foot Care from Experienced Podiatrists

If you’re concerned about the condition or development of your child’s feet, you can always turn to our experienced London podiatrists for advice and treatment. As well as providing foot care services to combat common complaints such as athlete’s foot and verrucae, we offer specialist biomechanical assessments to identify problems with foot and ankle function. Those problems can often be treated with our custom-made orthotics.

We’re also more than happy to give you tailored advice about buying kids’ shoes.

For first-class children’s foot care at our London podiatry clinics, please call Feet By Pody today on 0207 099 6657 or book an appointment online.