As your child begins to walk, you may have questions about what type of shoes they should be wearing. The size and shape of children's feet change quickly and it is important to purchase new shoes frequently to accommodate for this.
Children's shoes should be comfortable from the start. Never purchase shoes that need to be "broken in." Pay attention to length, depth, and width when fitting your child with new shoes. Remember, poorly fitting shoes can lead to toe problems, blisters, calluses, and ingrown toenails, even in small children.
What to look for in children's shoes
Children's feet grow in spurts; you should expect to replace your child's shoes every four months. In terms of sizing, toddlers usually grow about half a shoe size every two to three months. Children age two to two and a half will grow half a foot size every four months. By age three, your child will be growing half a shoe size every four to six months.
When shopping for new children's shoes, follow this advice:
- Do not rely on your child to tell you what is or is not comfortable, have your child's feet measured standing in the store.
- Make sure your child's toes are fully extended in new shoes; there should be about half an inch between the toes and the end of the shoe.
- Avoid buying shoes that are more than a full size too large. Shoes that are too big can cause your child to stumble while walking.
- Avoid buying shoes that are too tight.
- Make sure shoes are comfortable from the start; you should never rely on your child to "break in" new shoes.
- Buy shoes made from breathable materials.
- Avoid heels on children's shoes; instead look for shoes with flexible soles and good traction.
You should check your child's shoes periodically for signs of excess wear. If the sides are bulging, the shoes may be too narrow. If your child's toes bend upwards when walking this is a sign that you need to move up a size in shoes.
Issues created by improper fit
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to tell if a child is wearing shoes that hurt their feet. Young children tend to adapt to whatever they are asked to wear and accept it as normal. As a parent, you should be checking your child's feet regularly and looking for any of the following warning signs:
- Skin: Look for areas of redness, scaliness, or signs of itching. This could indicate some type of fungal infection. Check periodically for blisters and red marks near the shoes, these are signs of ill-fitting shoes.
- Nails: Discoloration and inflammation near the toenails could be a sign of infection or an ingrown nail.
- Foot deformities: Make sure your child's toes are straight and not curled or tucked under.
- Posture: If your child's feet are turned in or splayed, seek the advice of a podiatrist. Most children outgrow these types of problems but you should talk to a physician regardless.
By following these tips and guidelines, you can get the proper footwear for your child and help reduce the risks of foot problems.