When you’re thinking about the kinds of shoes to buy for your toddlers and tweens you would probably think that you want something sturdy and stock standard and black or brown in a plain and common style. This is not true and does not have to be the case as there are a variety of shoes that are better for you kids feet and are also available in different styles, colors, and options. In addition to that, those chunky, heavy shoes may be hindering your child’s feet from developing the balance and strength needed for later life – they can also be a tripping hazard. These chunky shoes are usually used as school shoes. If your child’s school dictates that they need black, leather, dress shoes, opt for a more lightweight, flexible shoe, without the big heel normally seen in these sturdy school shoes. You can get different styles that fit most school and nursery school codes such as Mary Janes for Infants which is also available in bigger sizes for toddlers and tweens. If possible, buy athletic style shoes that are lighter and more natural to walk in. Try to avoid getting shoes that have a heel and if you must, then get one but the heel should not be over 2cm high.
You can buy either lace-up shoes, buckled shoes, or Velcro shoes. For younger children who may not have the fine motor skills to tie up laces, Velcro, Mary Janes, or buckles can work fine (and it saves the teachers from having to constantly tie up 25 pairs of shoes). However, having lace-up shoes does prompt you to teach your child to tie-up shoelaces when they’re ready.
The right material: When buying shoes, avoid shoes with a high synthetic quantity as this can produce a hot, moist environment, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus that can lead to tinea, infected nails, and foot odor. Nobody wants that.
Support: If you notice that child’s shoe looks or feels tight or has lost some of its arch support, it’s time for a new pair of shoes. If your child has a growth spurt, you may find yourself buying shoes more frequently so don’t buy too many pairs of the same size shoe at the same time.
Consider your child’s daily activities: Since older children’s feet are not growing as rapidly, the shoe needs to be good enough to last for as long as the child can fit into it. You also must take into account the activity level of your child, for example, if they walk to school or use their shoes for after-school activities, you may have to buy new shoes at every six months and you should buy the type of shoes that fit their activities. So if they are walking a lot of the time like if they walk to and from school, you might want to buy more sneakers and sporty like shoes. Choosing the right school shoes is an essential part of the back-to-school routine. It’s important to make sure you’re making the right choices in shoes.
Choose the right size: It is most important that the shoes you buy fit properly. I already talked briefly about finding the right fit for an ever-growing foot (pun intended). It is useless buying expensive, supportive shoes if they are not supporting the right parts of your child’s foot. School shoes need to be snug enough to avoid slipping off your child’s foot, but loose enough to ensure unrestricted movement while walking. Ensure the shoes are flexible at the ball of the foot but don’t bend or twist across the arch area. Also look for shoes with a good, shock absorbing midsole.
Fit: You can go to a professional fitter in a shoe store to have your child’s feet measured and the right shoes selected. If you’re tempted to buy shoes a little too big so your child can grow into them, don’t. If the shoes are too big, it can cause clumsiness and lead to injury if the child ends up falling over or rolling their ankle. The Australian Podiatry Association advises doing a size check at least every one to three months up to the age of three, every four months up to the age of five, and every six months from five years. Also check for uneven shoe wear, as this should prompt a trip to the podiatrist to check how your child is walking.
When trying on the shoes, here are some things to look for to decide which are the right shoes. A well-fitting shoe will be long enough to allow an index finger’s width between the largest toe and the end of the shoe. The forefoot area will be wide enough to fit with no pressure points and the heel area should be narrow enough to fit snugly, so your child’s foot isn’t slipping out of the back. A firm heel counter which is the area that runs around the heel of the shoe is a very important consideration. It should be as firm as possible and hard to push in, helping to provide stability and support for your child’s heel. The shoe is held together by stitching, rather than glue, as the stitching will last longer before coming apart. The shoe should not dig or rub the ankle in any way. Try a few pairs to see which ones feel best for your child, then make the decision. Most importantly, watch to see if your child walks naturally in the shoes, and listen to how they feel in the shoes. Their natural gait should never be affected by the shoes, or this may cause problems later. If they complain of pain or are stumbling when walking, then this isn’t the shoe for them.