What to Look for When Buying Shoes for Children
Time does fly! Now that your child is actively on his / her feet most of the day, it is time to look for “big boy / big girl” shoes. Or are you looking to get a pair of shoes for a friend's baby shower?
At Kit & Kate we fully understand that parents want the best shoes for their children, but often aren’t sure what to look for when buying those shoes. Choosing the right pair of shoes for your child can be difficult! However with some good tips, buying shoes for your children will not become a guessing game or a hassle. We have done the research and offer you the following guidelines.
The Right Fit
- Look for shoes that have a small amount of wiggle room in the toe area to avoid blisters or the formation of ingrown toenails that can develop from pressure or friction on the front of the feet. Narrow or pointy shoes can irritate the toes and hinder normal foot growth.
- Look for shoes that have a stiff heel that does not collapse when you pinch the sides of the heel area. Some shoes have additional padding around the top edge of the heel to support and add comfort to the heel and ankle areas.
- Look for shoes that have a flexible front toe box area that will bend with your child’s toe movement when they are walking.
- Look for shoes that have a rigid middle section to avoid having your child’s feet twist around inside of the shoes.
The Right Form
- Look for shoes constructed with closures that are adjustable with straps, buckles, Velcro, or laces. These closures allow you to tighten or loosen the openings as necessary.
- Look for shoes that have quality non-slip soles that will provide good traction. Leather and rubber soles offer good traction.
- Look for shoes with insoles that cushion the feet.
- Look for shoes that are made from breathable materials that will let perspiration escape and keep the feet dry.
The Right Function
- Look for shoes that will match the activity for which they are being worn. You child will go through different walking stages during their first few years that range from the toddlers’ wobbly walking through to the school age heel to toe walking.
- High tops and sneakers with good heel support are appropriate for everyday wear and for sports.
- Look for ankle straps or buckles on open toe shoes and dress shoes.
- Look for shoes with good arch support.
- Look for shoes for school age children that are easy to put on and fasten quickly if he /she needs to change shoes for Physical Education classes.
This is also important for pre-school age children that take the shoes off for nap time.
Knowing The Right SizeBecause your child will outgrow their shoes every few weeks or months, it is important to know what size shoes will fit comfortably, wear well, and last until the next size is needed. If you are buying shoes made in a different country or making a purchase online you can find your child’s correct shoe size by using the international shoe size conversion chart and measurement process available online at: https://www.liveabout.com/childrens-international-shoe-size-conversion-chart-2989632. This conversion chart can be helpful if the shoes you are interested in buying do not have the international size already printed on the label. The best time of the day to get an accurate shoe size is to measure to your child’s feet is in the afternoon or early evening. This is because his / her feet can swell after a full day’s activities. Whether you are buying your child’s shoes online or in a store, always ask about the return policy in the event that have brought the wrong size. The American Podiatric Medical Association, recommends that:
- Your child wear socks or tights when measuring their feet for the right shoe size.
- The shoes are immediately comfortable without the need for any adjustment or breaking in period.
- If one foot is slightly larger than the other, always find the shoe size that fits the larger foot.
- Buying well-formed shoes with the upper parts made from canvas, mesh, or soft leather materials to allow for better absorption and ventilation.
- Limiting heels on shoes to one inch or less to avoid cramped toes and forward sliding of the feet.
- Consulting with your pediatrician if your child has a foot problem that he / she has not outgrown by the time they are ready for big-boy or big-girl shoes.
Signs That New Shoes Are NeededOn average, children’s shoes need to be replaced every few weeks or couple of months. Because most children don’t know how to tell you that their shoes are too tight or uncomfortable, you can look for signs that your child needs new shoes. Look for these typical signs:
- Your child is walking awkwardly because the shoes are rubbing against their feet.
- Your child is limping because the shoes are too tight.
- You can see the impression of your child’s feet pressing against the sides of the shoes.
- You can check for worn out areas or weakened seams.
- You can check for excessive wear marks on the toe and heel areas.
- You can check the inside of the shoes to look for uneven foot impressions.
Once you know how much room your child’s feet need in a pair of shoes, you can check the fit of the shoes every week or two to insure that the foot size has not changed.
What Not To Look For When Buying Shoes For ChildrenThere are some common mistakes that parents make when buying shoes for their young children. We all want our children to love their shoes, but sometimes the in-fashion shoe styles need to be postponed until their young feet are developed enough to handle more adult shaped shoes. Here are the most frequent mistakes to avoid.
- #1: Avoid buying stiff shoes intended to protect your child’s feet. What happens with stiff shoes is that they can weaken muscles in the feet and that will hinder your child’s ability to handle long walks or long period of outdoor activities.
- #2: Avoid buying child size versions of adult shoe styles such as flip-flops, slide-ons, high heels, or pointy toed cowboy boots. What seems cute and fashionable today can lead to foot problems and back pain in adulthood. Pointy toed shoes or boots can interfere with the normal foot and toe development. Flip-flops and slide-ons force your child to curl their toes to grip the footwear when walking which leads to an unnatural walking stride. If fancy adult styled shoes are a must for a special occasion, then limit the wear time to only a few hours.
- #3: Avoid buying shoes that are too big. Trying to avoid buying shoes every few months by buying the shoes in a full size or two larger than the size that is actually needed can result in more harm than good. Shoes that are too big means that your child’s feet are sliding around in the shoes and that can lead to an awkward walking stride, unintentional stumbling, and sore feet from excess rubbing inside the shoes.
- #4: Avoid buying shoes with slippery smooth soles. Shoes that do not have good traction can lead to slips, falls, and body injuries.
- #5: Avoid buying used shoes. This mistake also includes not letting your child wear hand-me-down shoes from friends or relatives. Used shoes have already been worn in to match the foot pattern of the original wearer which can interfere with your child’s normal foot development.
Important Buying Precautions
Shopping for children’s shoes does not need to be confusing or frustrating. Reliable shoe firms, like Kit & Kate, adhere to all of the safety features required for top quality, professionally constructed, well-fitting shoes for babies, toddlers, and young children. There are no decorative accessories or fasteners that will come loose or detach that will make our shoes unwearable. We never use any sharp metal components that would cause scrapes or lacerations. But, there are some brands of shoes where these are potential hazards. If you are buying your children’s shoes from other companies, you will want to know if those shoes have been recalled because of manufacturing malfunctions or potential hazards. You can check the shoe recall list maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on their website at: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls.