What a lot of choices parents have to make as they raise a child! Breast feed or formula? What school will be best for my child? Which friendships should I encourage (or discourage)? Here’s another one to add—what shoes will be best for my child’s feet? Finding the right shoe as he or she grows can be crucial for how the feet develop and how much your son or daughter enjoys running and playing sports. The following tips can help you make great choices the first time around.
When to Start Putting Shoes on Your Child
They can be terribly cute, but black patent Mary Jane’s may not be great for baby’s feet. In those early months, when babies mainly lie down, kick, roll around, or start crawling, warm socks and booties are all that is needed to protect those tiny feet.
Babies usually start walking around the first birthday—give or take a couple of months—and you may think this is the time to start them with shoes. However, bare feet can be a plus indoors as long as the floors are clear of sharp objects. That way they can feel what’s beneath their feet and develop their sensory skills. Walking barefoot also helps strengthen various muscles in the foot to help with balance and start developing the arch.
When your toddler begins walking outside, however, they need protection from uneven ground, debris, and bacteria. A canvas or leather shoe that is soft and allows your little one’s feet to breathe is a good choice for beginning walkers. A lightweight pair with a firm sole and adequate width for the forefoot and toes will help your child’s feet develop normally.
Shoes for School Age Kids
Kids grow so quickly that it is important to have their feet measured every time you shop for a new pair. The sizes are only a guideline, though, as shoe shapes and actual length and width can vary among manufacturers. There are many styles and types of shoes for older children, and your son or daughter may have definite ideas about what they should wear. It is important to remember that you are the parent, making wise choices they are unable to make at this age.
Look for moderately priced shoes (since you will likely replace them again quite soon). The shoe should be of material that ventilates the foot, because children and sweaty feet are a common twosome. Whether your child prefers sandals, athletic shoes, flats, or hikers, insist on a pair with plenty of room for growth.
There should always be a half inch space in the front beyond the longest toe, and the sides should not pinch at the widest part of the foot. The shoe should bend where your youngster’s feet bend (where toes and foot meet) but be stable along the rest of the sole. It should cradle the heel firmly, and lace up or Velcro snugly (but not too tightly), so the foot won’t slide around inside.
A Word about Sports Shoes
The days are long gone when a simple pair of sneakers was worn for every sport from basketball to track. Research has identified shoe characteristics that provide benefits when playing specific sports, and you should always choose shoes designed for the sport he or she plays.
Athletic shoes for kids can provide extra stability, flexibility, and traction, and the right style can even improve performance, but some come with built-in problems (soccer cleats for kids often run tight in the toes, for example). So choose the type of shoe you need, but then play around with sizes until you find a pair that fits and supports the feet properly and won’t pinch your child’s feet.
Arizona Foot Doctors Offer Shoe Shopping Help
If your child is hard to fit or seems to have foot problems, contact Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona and let one of our doctors examine his or her feet. With a clear diagnosis of the problem we can advise you on the best styles. Simply call (480) 963-9000 in Chandler, AZ or (480) 981-1800 in Gilbert to schedule your appointment.