If the shoe fits
Have you ever tried to get your kids to balance on a ruler so you could measure their foot length because you were buying shoes online? Impossible! The fact is, that even up until the age of 18, the 26 bones and 35 joints in your kids’ feet are still forming. Those soft bones are more susceptible to pressure from ill-fitting shoes and damage done in the early years can have huge impacts when they are adults.
Kids’ shoes are no different to adult shoes in that they can have differing widths, lengths and sizing variations across brands. Trying to choose the right shoes for those little feet is a minefield. Shoes that are too small can cause damage to growing feet and blisters/rubbing (mostly on the heels) are usually to blame on shoes that are too big.
Getting shoes that fit
Your best bet is to head in to a store and have your kids’ shoes professionally fitted. Here’s why:
• A fitting professional can accurately measure your kids’ feet (length AND width) and suggest shoes suitable for them
• If your child develops any problems with their feet, a professional can pick these up early rather than when you have a real problem on your hands (feet?!?)
• In store, your kids can try on a variety of shoes and have a little walk to see if the shoes are right for them (shoes that are too heavy will be difficult for your little one to walk in as they need to work harder to lift their feet)
• A professional also knows what to look for in terms of the right amount of “wriggle room”, checking the heel cup and ensuring the shoe fits the natural shape of your kids’ feet
Tips for getting it right
Kids’ feet grow rapidly so The Australian Podiatry Association recommends regular size checks for your kids’ feet. Up to the age of three this should be every one to three months. For children aged 3-5 they should be checked every four months and then from five years you can stretch it out to every six months.
The best time to shop for shoes is in the afternoon when the feet are slightly swollen and at their largest from a day of activity. Resist the urge to get your shoe shopping out of the way early when the kids are at their best, it will save loads of whinging down the track when their shoes are too tight!
If you are shopping for sneakers or other shoes that will be worn with socks, take the socks your kid wears with you. A thicker or thinner sock can make a big difference in the right fit.
Don’t forget that it’s important for toddlers to have plenty of barefoot time to help them develop their balance, movement coordination and even their posture. Of course shoes are important for protecting their feet while out and about, but take their shoes off whenever it is practical.
Read more from Sara Keli on the Kid Magazine blog.