When shopping for new shoes, it is important to keep in mind the role shoes play in preventing foot problems and injuries. Here are five tips for selecting the best shoes for your child. Note: this may include a compromise between a favorite “in-style” design and a pair of shoes that is good for their feet.

1. Bring your child with you. Have a knowledgeable salesperson measure the length and width of your child’s foot. Guessing their size or assuming they’ve grown a certain amount may lead to an ill-fitted shoe. Children can grow at incredible rates, which means their shoe size will change frequently. The correct fit will avoid tightness and improper motions that could lead to structural and functional deformities.
Use the following rule of thumb when in doubt about proper shoe size: make sure there is at least one thumb’s width between the tip of the big toe and the end of the shoe. (This is also a great rule for adults!) If one foot is larger than the other, buy to fit the larger size.

You may ultimately have to find a compromise between fashion and function, but an appropriate shoe is imperative to your child’s foot health. Shoe shopping with your children helps teach them what to look for in a shoe, and other good habits for the future.

2. Select a good, sturdy shoe. Shoes should have a stiff heel counter (the part of the shoe that goes around the backside of the heel), a semi-rigid toe box (partly stiff/partly flexible area that goes over the tops of the toes), and a rigid midsole area. The shoe should bend where the foot bends– just behind the toes, and not under the arch. A supportive shoe will not twist in the middle or from side to side.

3. Shoes should be comfortable when they are first put on. Buying a shoe with the intent to “break it in” may signify that the shoe was not the proper fit or design for your child. (Another good rule for adults, too!)

4. Regularly check the wear pattern of your child’s shoes. By simply looking at the surface that touches the ground, you should see a normal pattern of wear in the middle and outside of the heel area as well as in the area under the big toe and second toe. This should be relatively equal in both feet. Abnormal or unequal wear patterns can indicate atypical foot changes, and may be helpful to your podiatrist in detecting a possible foot problem.

5. Avoid hand-me-downs. in general, shoes should not be passed down from older siblings or friends. Even shoes that appear in good condition can have break-down of the inner materials that provide support. Sharing shoes could also spread infections that cause warts or fungus from one child to another.

If you have questions about your child’s size, choosing the proper fit, concerns wear patterns or other noticeable changes in your child’s feet, please do not hesitate to call us at (901) 309-7700.