Choosing the right shoes for your children is a more important decision than you might realize. You need to take more into consideration than fashion or affordability. Selecting the right shoes is critically important because it can impact your child’s foot development.
Just as you would take the recommendations of an eye doctor seriously if they said your child needed glasses, you should similarly consider professional recommendations about selecting the right shoes. In this blog, the providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine explain what you should keep in mind when selecting shoes for your child.
Consider materials and fit
Shoes for your child should be made of breathable materials, such as leather, canvas, or the newer mesh materials. The shoes should be flexible in the front and stiff in the back.
In addition, the shoes should have plenty of room in the toe box. And the shoes should not pinch the feet anywhere, but they should fit snugly enough to support the feet.
The providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine recommend taking your children to have their feet measured by footwear professionals. Shoes need to fit correctly at three different points:
- The width
- The instep, which is the arched middle portion of the foot
- The flex point, which is where the sole of the shoe bends most easily
You can expect to replace shoes 2-3 times a year when your child is young and their feet are growing quickly. A common temptation is to buy shoes a size or two too large and allow a child to grow into them, but this isn’t recommended. Just as it would impair your walking ability to wear shoes that are too large, the same effect can happen to children, too.
Focus on foot health, not price
While it’s not always a fact that more expensive shoes equal better quality, you shouldn’t expect children’s shoes to be a bargain. It might seem difficult to shell out the money for more expensive shoes since children outgrow them so quickly, but it matters for the development of their feet.
It’s not recommended to use hand-me-downs or used shoes, as shoes should fit your child’s specific feet. Although you may feel tempted to reuse shoes for younger siblings to make up for the cost of the shoes, this isn’t recommended. The only case in which this might be acceptable is with shoes that don’t get much use, such as those that are only worn on special occasions.
Consider your child’s age
Shoes for infants are sometimes a fashion accessory, but they’re not necessary when babies are still in the crawling stage. Children generally don’t need shoes until they begin walking, at which point a soft-soled shoe is recommended.
Toddlers should have lightweight shoes to accommodate the fact that they can do a lot of walking. You don’t need to worry about traditional athletic shoes at this age, as a child’s foot arch typically doesn’t develop until ages 6-8.
By the time kids are in elementary school, you can start choosing athletic shoes, including specific shoes for sports that your child may participate in. Furthermore, children shouldn’t wear backless shoes, high heels — even if the heels are relatively short — or flip-flops.
If you have more questions about your child’s feet, the providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine today.