Finding the Right Shoes for Kids

Taking your kids shoe shopping might seem like a bit of a hassle, but it’s well worth the effort to make sure you’re getting the right fit. Because you might just be surprised at how quickly those little tootsies sprout.

We’ve been having some shoe battles in our house. The 3-year-old kept insisting she didn’t like any of the awesome sneakers she picked out. She complained about the inside of her rubber boots feeling funny. She wanted to shun shoes altogether, it seemed … until we took her to get her feet measured.

It wasn’t the first time. Last year, in the fall, we went to a great local shoe shop. They measured her feet and determined she was a 5 or 5 ½. We paid the dollars for a lovely pair of Baby BOGS, size 6. She LOVED them, and so did we. And they lasted the winter.

This fall, we planned the same shopping trip – spurred on by her hatred of all other shoes, and the first few flurries of the season. She found the exact same pair of Baby BOGS and was intent on buying them. Then the sales associate measured her feet. Her tiny, not-quite-size-6 feet had grown over the 12 months … to needing a size 9.

She marched around the house all night in her size 9 winter boots. Then suggested we buy another pair, so that these could be her indoor shoes.

Shoes are one item we tend to spend money on; sure, I watch for sales and clear out the clearance racks when I can (it doesn’t take long to add up when it’s indoor and outdoor shoes for three kids), but shoes are never on my consignment shopping list.

The Canadian and American podiatry associations both state that footwear should never be handed down from one child to another because every shoe fits differently and wears differently – and an ill-fitting shoe, either new or second-hand, can create problems. (It’s also easy to pass along health issues, such as athlete’s foot and nail fungus.) Children’s feet are soft and pliable, so any abnormal pressure can cause deformities that last into adulthood.

The associations also suggest that children’s shoe and sock size can change every few months, that you make sure to buy for the larger foot (feet are rarely the same size – kiddo was a full size different!), and to watch for uneven heel wear on shoes, as that can be an indication of a problem with walking. Extra tip: when your child is first learning to walk, bare feet (or sock feet) are ideal, as it allows the foot to grow and develop, particularly improving the grasping action of toes.

Here’s a handy shoe-shopping guide from the American Podiatric Medical Association.

UPDATE: So, it’s been a few years since we first wrote this post. All that good advice is still completely valid and very useful! We’ve also discovered that little miss with the love of boots still enjoys shoe shopping, but has wide feet which make it that much more important to take the time to ensure things are fitting properly. We’ve also had many shopping adventures searching for wide shoes for a little man who needed AFOs (ankle foot orthosis, for those wondering) for many years. We recently learned about some neat shoes that are designed with zip-off tops, allowing easier foot entry for children with braces, mobility issues, etc. These seem like such a great product development! We also wish we’d known about Jack & Lily when we were struggling to manoeuvre six little feet into snowboots every day! Click here to see a neat video showing how these boots open up for easy access!


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