Choosing the right shoes for your child isn’t just a matter of fashion; correct footwear is part of a healthy lifestyle, and can make a huge difference in a kid’s posture, safety and comfort. Let’s take a look at the hows and whys of picking out the best shoes for your little ones.
Why Do Shoes Matter?
The choices you make for your child now will extend into their adulthood; while 98% of us are born with healthy feet, only 40% of us will still have them by the time we reach 18. Clearly, finding the right footwear can make a big difference.
The advantages of proper footwear – both in form and fit – include:
- Improving posture
- Protecting joints
- Supporting and cushioning feet during activity
- Aiding comfort
- Preventing avoidable slips, falls and injuries
- Protecting soles of the feet from hazards
Of course there are many options when shopping for kids shoes, but whilst many of them are adorable, not all are practical or safe.
How do I Pick the Right Shoes?
Picking the right shoes need not be a challenge. There are some simple guidelines to follow to ensure you make the right decision:
1. If the Shoe Fits
Children’s feet grow, a lot – up to 12 sizes in their first three years of development. But almost half of kids are wearing the incorrect shoe size. This can cause some serious problems while the feet are still growing, so it’s vital to always measure your child’s feet before buying any new shoes.
As they can change so rapidly, frequent size checks are recommended by physiotherapist at the following rate:
- Every two months for children under two years old
- Every four months for kids aged three to four
- Every six months for kids over the age of five
And no matter what the measurement is, always have your kids try shoes before buying them; their feet should not be squashed across their width, and their toes should be able to move freely. If your little ones are mobile, get them to walk around in the shoes to test their comfort level and identify any areas of tightness or discomfort.
2. Different Shoes for Different Stages of Development
Shoes for infants differ greatly from shoes for kindergartners, so bear in mind your child’s stage of development. Infants don’t need much support as they won’t be walking.. Toddlers are mid-development, but on their feet all day, so they need room to grow and some cushioning. Older children have less fragile feet but are using them in more varied ways, and generally for higher impact activities, so shoes with a mix of flexibility and support are better.
3. Consider the Activity
For older kids, as with adults, it’s important to remember what activity the shoes will be worn for. Running shoes are built differently than walking shoes. If your child plays a specific sport, consider buying shoes that are designed for that sport, as they will offer more protection and support in the specific ways required of that activity. If you’re simply searching for good all-purpose shoes, check the soles for thickness and grip, the flexibility of the material, and above all else the fit.
4. Material Considerations
Children’s feet sweat more than twice as much as an adult’s, so look for shoes made of light, breathable, natural materials, so your their feet don’t overheat. This can prevent blisters as well as unpleasant odours. Canvas is a great option, as it is also washable, while still being durable. Avoid plastics and synthetic materials.
The shoes you’re considering may come with laces, velcro, or something else entirely. Generally it’s recommended to avoid slip-ons and backless shoes for kids, as they don’t offer adequate support. Choosing between fasteners is a matter of ability for your child; wherever possible choose a shoe that they can get on and off themselves.
The better prepared you are before you head out in search of children’s shoes, the easier your shopping trip will be. Always remember, if they’re not comfortable in the store, they won’t be worn at home!