Choosing the Right Shoes For Kids’ Feet

By | July 7, 2015

baby-george-crocsLast week the Royal Family was setting trends once again. As Prince George was seen running and playing with the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, also known as mom and dad, the world couldn’t help but notice what was on the royal feet. Crocs. Navy crocs with white soles had a 1,500% increase in sales last week thanks to the Prince George effect. Crocs have a lot of parent friendly qualities, cheap, tough, easy to clean, but are they the best shoes for your little one to be wearing?

When it comes to picking out shoes for your kids you really have to focus on three questions. How does the shoe fit? What is the shoe made out of? And is that shoe the type of shoe your child should be wearing? Let’s start with the first question, because well we listed it first, and look at how fit is important to your child’s shoes. Fit is important because a poor fitting shoe can cause all sorts of problems for tiny little feet. A shoe that is too small can cause ingrown toenails, hammer toe, bunions, etc and a shoe that’s too large won’t provide enough support for feet that are still developing. Because none of us are experts in everything, we recommend going to a shoe store and having your child sized by someone trained in measuring for shoe sizes. This probably seems like overkill for something the average toddler will outgrow in six months, but feet are especially susceptible to having issues later in life when children are younger and their feet are less developed.

Just as important as fit, is what material the shoes is made out of. Just like how no one would suggest gym shorts during the middle of winter, there are definite right and wrong materials for children’s shoes. A point we constantly harp on here at Socks4Life for adults is how important it is for shoes to be breathable. Children’s shoes should be made of breathable materials like leather, mesh, or canvas for example and you should avoid materials like plastic. Children’s feet tend to sweat a lot and keeping feet dry is very important for foot health. It takes years for feet to develop issues with either flat or high arches so that’s not an issue to really worry about, you only need to make sure that the insoles are absorbent and padded to provide cushion for tender feet. The last part of material to worry about is what the sole is made of. You might think that a sole with a lot of grip and thickness would be helpful, but they can actual make it more difficult for children just beginning to walk. Having shoes that will instill the mechanics of a normal walking step is important here.

The point we made about picking correct materials also applies to choosing the correct type of shoe in general. Just like you’d never try to put a toddler in a pair of heels, there are right and wrong shoes for different age groups. We can break this down into three categories based on age and ability: pre-walking, toddler, and school age. Pre-walking shoes are for babies and infants that are still only crawling. Because these children aren’t walking yet these shoes don’t need to provide any support. They only need to be soft, warm, and able to protect feet from usual household obstacles. Toddler shoes are where the issue of support starts to come up. Once kids start walking, usually around nine months, and the time they spend walking is fairly short, shoes need to be breathable before you worry about support. Once the adventures start to get longer, you need to make sure that the shoes are still breathable, provide support, high top shoes are a good choice for this, and that the sole they have is flat and doesn’t have too much grip. For school age kids your biggest worry will probably be making sure they just wear the things. At this point the shoes are pretty standard and the kids are pretty solid on walking. Worrying about fit is the only thing to watch out for, so if you hear lots of complaints about rubbing or chafing go to a shoe store and get them measured and sized.

There it is, 700 words all about big facts for tiny feet. It might not seem like something that needs all that much thought, beyond small feet = small shoes, but it’s something that can have big effects later in life.