How to Choose the Best Shoes for Your Child
If your child is an infant or toddler: Wait to buy shoes until your child starts to walk and only use them outdoors. Research suggests that children develop healthy, well-developed feet when they learn to walk barefoot. Keep their feet warm and unrestricted with soft slippers or warm skid-free socks. When it comes time for your child to wear footwear outdoors (for protection), choose shoes which are soft and pliable to let new walkers feel the ground.
(See illustration below for details)
- Have your child’s feet measured on a regular basis at a shoe store that specializes in children’s shoes. Kids grow fast, and shoe sizes change from month to month. We don’t often have a chance to inspect our child’s indoor shoes, so at the very least we recommend having your child bring their indoor shoes home at Christmas so you can check them.
- Have your child try both shoes on. Shoes vary in fit, even within the same brand. There should be a 1/2 inch (or one thumb’s width) at the end of your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoe.
- When looking at the bottom (sole) of the shoe, it should be relatively straight (not curved in too much) – the foot is straight, so the shoe should be straight.
- Shoes should not need to be “broken in”. If they do, they are either poorly designed or poorly fitted.
A word about flip flops:
Each year, thousands of injuries occur to children as a result of wearing flip flops, with the majority of injuries occurring at school. Injuries such as stubbed toes, broken toes, sprained ankles, and other more serious injuries as a result of tripping or falling from monkey bars because the flip flops “folded under”, didn’t have enough traction, or didn’t provide enough support. The reason for these injuries is that there simply isn’t enough support in a flip flop and there is nothing to hold the shoe on your child’s foot. If he or she wears these shoes for everyday use, your child is risking serious injury to their feet, legs and back – injuries that can create a lifetime of painful problems.
We understand that they are inexpensive, convenient to slip on and stylish, however, use of flip flops should be kept to a minimum (i.e. at the beach, around the pool) to ensure the safety of your child. We strongly discourage wearing flip flops at school.
So then, what type of sandal should your child wear? We recommend a sandal with good arch support and a strap around the heel, which is the only feature which holds the shoe on your child’s foot. Athletic shoes are most appropriate if your child is going to engage in running, prolonged walking or other activities requiring additional support.