Babies + Toddlers
The bones in their feet are still forming, so a poorly fitted shoe can cause abnormal and repetitive pressures that could actually deform their feet. So there are some important things to know about choosing your children's shoes, beyond what color matches that new dress.
While baby shoes are a popular shower gift, babies actually don't need shoes at all. They're not walking anywhere, and restricting their little feet with shoes can actually harm them. Until they turn one, just stick with socks.
Even as they age, toddlers and preschoolers will actually do better if they're left barefoot as much as possible. This promotes muscle growth, lets little toes grasp and helps their feet develop strength and coordination. Of course, that's not always practical, like when you're walking down a gravel driveway or it's 15 degrees and snowing. But if their feet aren't in danger of getting hurt, just leave the shoes off.
Choosing The Right Shoes
- Flexibility - Shoes for babies that are just learning to walk and exploring toddlers need to be flexible, lightweight and soft. Avoid any kind of shoe that is too hard and won't move with their feet. The little hiking boots might be adorable, but they're not going to let your child's feet to grow properly. They shouldn't restrict toe and foot mobility or bind feet in any way. When it comes to shoes for the little ones, less is definitely more.
- Breathability - Little ones can have sweaty feet just like grown-ups, and sweaty feet can lead to friction that causes painful blisters. To avoid this problem, choose shoes made of natural fibers such as leather or cotton. Avoid synthetic shoes such as those made to mimic the look of leather, which can trap heat and make little feet uncomfortable.
- Flat Soles - New walkers all the way up to preschoolers will be able to explore better if they have shoes with a flat surface. Unlike adults, who need arch support, young children need shoes that mimic going barefoot. Look for shoes with a smooth, flat sole and avoid rubber soles, which are unfortunately very common in kid shoes today.
- Avoid Heels - Kids should never wear shoes with heels. It throws their balance off, will make them trip, slip and fall, and can injure their little feet and ankles. They'll grow up fast enough, so don't rush it.
Your best option when choosing shoes for toddlers and preschoolers is to shop at a specialty kids shoe store where the staff is trained on how to fit shoes for kids. The selections will also be more appropriate for your little one's feet. We highly suggest Howard Curry Shoes.
School Age Kids
Most parents don't really know what to look for when choosing kids shoes beyond feeling how close the big toe is to the end.
But finding the right shoes goes way beyond just finding ones that fit.
Shoes To Avoid
Hand Me Downs
While it's tempting to just put your younger child in their big brother's cast-off shoes, it's a bad idea. Most shoes will mold to the foot that wears them, based on the shape of that foot and the way the person walks.
But these are very unique factors for each person and will cause discomfort, blisters and possibly worse problems. So avoid handing down shoes.
Man-made materials won't stretch like natural materials, which when used on shoes can harm a child's developing foot.
While the cheaper shoes at discount retailers might be appealing for the household budget, they're not a good option for school shoes. They also won't last as long.
Another plus for shoes made of natural materials is that they're breathable. Kids feet sweat a lot and need air. Anyone who's ever had a teenage boy could tell you that.
But it's the same for smaller feet as well. Choose shoes made of real leather or canvas, which will let air circulate to keep kids feet dry and comfortable.
If you shop in a children's specialty shoe store where the staff is trained to fit children's shoes, you'll most likely be able to avoid these problems
They'll also have higher quality products, which will be better for their feet and last longer. We highly suggest Howard Curry Shoes - the staff is wonderful.