Little feet are delicate and pliable, so choosing the right shoes for kids is essential. Indeed, many podiatric problems in later life stem from wearing the wrong shoes as a child, so it’s never too soon to think about what’s best for them.
Expert Guide on Choosing the Right Shoes for Your Kids
Use our guide on choosing the right shoes for kids of all ages and avoid unnecessary podiatry problems in later life
Booties for Babies
Tiny ones don’t need shoes until they start to walk, although it’s good to have soft booties to keep them warm when they’re outside. As long as their toes have a bit of wiggle room you don’t need anything too fancy at this stage.
When they first begin to walk, children are still very wobbly, so bare feet are best at this early stage. This gives their feet time to develop, helps them with balance and encourages them to walk correctly.
Once your toddler is a little steadier it’s time for their first visit to the shoe shop.
Always Get Their Feet Measured Properly
Growing kids feet change roughly every three months, so you need to have them measured each time you visit the shoe shop. It’s important to get this done by an experienced shoe fitter, as there are several things to get right.
Your child’s new shoes should be comfortable and supportive but they must also give them room to grow. A shoe that’s too big is as detrimental as one that’s too small – it’s a delicate balance.
Don’t forget, if your toddlers’ shoes are poorly fitted they may not realise it at first, so you won’t know either. This is because the nerve endings of their feet are still developing so any tightness or pain won’t be apparent immediately. This is how long-lasting damage occurs and why you should always get your child’s feet measured by the right person.
Get the Right Shape
Shoes should be foot-shaped – wider at the toes than at the heels. Of course, this applies in later life as well but it’s something many of us tend to forget! A pointy toe is never a good thing even if it looks good, and it’s definitely to be avoided for children as this prevents the correct development of toes.
What’s the Best Material?
Ideally, opt for natural materials rather than synthetics where possible. Leather shoes and insoles and breathable linings help to combat the damp and whiffy effects of busy little feet charging around all day! And, damp feet can lead to fungal infections and that’s certainly one to avoid.
Flexibility and Support
Robust, non-slip soles with supportive arches are crucial, but they also must be flexible; this allows the foot to bend easily and comfortably. If the sole can be twisted it’s too soft and won’t provide sufficient support.
Sturdy support around the ankles helps keep kids upright and ensures feet continue to develop correctly. This means a solid heel cup for shoes or sandals – one that you can’t easily push out of shape.
Strappy heels and slip-on shoes aren’t good for growing kids. Buckles, laces or Velcro fastenings hold shoes firmly in place to give maximum support. Otherwise, there’ll be a lot of slipping about which your child will automatically try to correct by clenching their toes. This soon becomes painful and dangerous and leads to future problems, as the feet aren’t supported correctly or safely.