Buying children’s shoes – what your podiatrist wants you to know
For many parents, shoe shopping with your child is something you want to get over with as quickly as possible to save the tantrums, tears and boredom. But before you dash into your local supermarket and buy the first pair of shoes you see in their size that they like, stop and take a little time to consider if the shoe actually fits.
According to research back in 2010 by Clarks, a staggering 4 million children in the UK are wearing the wrong size shoes. Part of this is down to fashion, budget restraints and convenience, but some of it is down to many parents not realising the effect ill-fitting shoes can have on their child both short and long term. The bones, muscles and ligaments in a child’s feet don’t fully develop until late teens. So throughout their childhood from their first pair to their last, you should make sure they wear correctly fitting shoes for healthy feet and to avoid foot problems further down the line.
Take advice from the experts
As specialists in feet and ankle problems, podiatrists are always looking to promote good foot care, and a huge part of this is wearing the right shoes. When it comes to buying children’s shoes especially, there are a few things your podiatrist wants you to know.
Children’s feet change with age
As you already know, children grow rapidly which means their shoe size will change rapidly too. Keep a close eye on your children’s shoes, regularly checking they still fit and aren’t too small or big. The gap between the big toe and the end of the shoe shouldn’t be less than 8mm or more than 14mm and the sides of the shoe should support the foot not squeeze it.
Get their feet measured
Whenever you’re buying new shoes for your child you should always get them properly measured, as they continuously change in size and shape. Also be sure to measure both feet as they are rarely the exact same size, and buy shoes to fit the larger foot.
Check the heels
Another sign to look out for is heel wear, as the heels can wear much quicker than they outgrow them. Also uneven heel wear can identify a potential foot problem that should be checked by a podiatrist.
Take your child with you
Although it may be easier to shop solo for shoes, your child should always try shoes to make sure they fit properly. If the shoes will be worn with socks or tights, make sure they try them on with these on too. Also involving them in the process can help form healthy shoe habits for the future.
Never hand down footwear
Each child’s foot is different and what fitted one child may not fit the next, so avoid hand-me-down shoes.
When shopping for kid’s shoes also look for a stiff heel that doesn’t collapse when you squeeze it, a shoes that bends with your child’s toes – not too stiff or too soft – and finally it should have a stiff middle that doesn’t twist to ensure they have the correct support.
This isn’t to say buying children’s shoes has to be complicated, it’s just about buying the right fitting shoes that will ensure healthy feet for your child’s future.