Shoe Shopping for Kids: It Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare

children going barefoot

Choosing the right shoes for your feet is one of the pillars of health and good posture. That applies even more when we’re talking about kids, which in turns makes shoe shopping for kids a very important topic.

Starting from babies to toddlers, and well into the teenage years, shoe shopping is all about ensuring the child’s feet are properly developing. For parents, that can mean a lot of pressure when it’s time to buy their child a new pair of shoes.

In this article, we’re going to answer some of the most common questions parents have about children’s shoes and feet. Hopefully, the answers will lead to you making the best decision for your child and his or her feet.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs New Shoes?

Shoe Shopping for Kids:

Because children’s feet grow so fast, it can be all too easy to lose track of time and not notice that it’s time for a new pair of shoes.

Fortunately, there are tell-tale signs your kid needs new shoes, without them telling you that their toes are starting to ache.

  • You’ve noticed holes in the soles of their shoes or damage in the lining of the shoe.
  • Your child might be walking a bit awkwardly or complaining about foot pain in the evenings.
  • If they’re wearing sandals, the toes are overhanging.
  • You’ve noticed that there’s no gap between their longest toe and the tip of the shoe.

How Do I Measure My Child’s Foot for Shoe Size?

measuring child's foot

When it’s time to buy a new pair of shoes for your child, you might dread a trip to the shoe store. Your child might want to run around in the store and not sit still to try on shoes. 

And even if they do, you might have doubts that you’ve chosen the right fit. That’s why one of the best practices is to measure your child’s foot to figure out the size they need.

This is also very useful when you’re ordering shoes online. You can buy a plastic measuring gauge made specifically for this purpose.

But if you don’t want to search for this tool, a simple paper gauge will do just fine. There are printable gauges available online. Shoe websites often provide a free download.

Then, all you need to do is make sure you set your printer to 100% and not scale. Make sure you put the paper gauge on a flat surface. Then measure the size and width of both feet on the gauge.

Shoe Shopping for Kids: Does My Infant Need Shoes?

Shoe Shopping for Kids:

Babies’ feet are incredibly sensitive. That’s why there’s no rush to put shoes on them. When your baby is learning how to walk, it’s best to leave them barefooted.

If you’re considering buying shoes, anyway, always look for a soft sole and breathable materials.

However, infants who are not yet attempting to walk don’t require shoes. The exceptions could be when you want to protect their feet from cold or after an injury.

Shoe Shopping for Kids: How Fast Do Children’s Feet Grow?

baby feet growth

One of the fascinating things about a baby’s feet is that in the first 12 months, they will go through four shoe sizes. That’s why most podiatrists don’t recommend buying infants shoes for the first six months, unless necessary. But here’s how much growth you can expect after the first year of your baby’s life:

  • From ages 1 to 3, you can expect a bit over 1.5mm in length each month
  • From ages 3 to 6, you can expect around 1.2mm in length each month
  • From ages 6 to 10, the trend slows down to a bit less than 1mm each month
  • From age 12 to 17, a boy’s foot will grow about 10% more, and a girl’s just 2%

But it’s essential to keep in mind that not all children are the same, and that certain variables determine how fast your child’s feet will grow.

And while growth spurts are something you can definitely expect, sometimes they’ll come after your kid has worn the same pair of shoes for a year and a half.

When Does My Child Begin to Need Arch Support?

Babies under 18 months all have flat feet. And they don’t fully develop their arch until they’re between the ages of 6 and 8.

But even if they still have somewhat flat feet until they’re in their pre-teen stage, it isn’t necessarily cause for concern. The old school of thought was that it’s a condition that will inevitably lead to more problems later in life, but this no longer holds.

Are Arch Support Inserts Helpful for Children?

Today, experts agree that you only need to worry about arch support and use insoles or inserts if your child complains about their feet. Issues like leg pain, foot pain, and tired muscles are also a sign a child might need arch support from his or her shoes.

Other instances where including arch support inserts could be beneficial for your child is when there’s a history of flat feet in the family. Inserts may also help when there is absolutely no arch visible when your child stands on the tip of his or her toes.

Shoe Shopping for Kids:

Shoe Shopping for Kids: What Materials Are Best for Children’s Shoes?

The two main parts of any shoe are the upper and the sole.

When it comes to your kids, one of the most critical factors for shoe materials is that they are nontoxic. Fast fashion influences children’s footwear as well, so it’s crucial to stay vigilant.

The upper materials should be leather or nontoxic textiles like organic cotton. Unless you’re buying shoes for your baby who is just learning how to walk, rubber soles are often the best choice. Keep in mind that the lining material matters, too. Lambskin is particularly kind to kid’s feet, and so are plush and breathable textiles.

My Child Has an Irregular Gait – What Should I Do?

A person’s gait simply describes how they walk. An irregular or abnormal gait represents anything that stands out from the usual way someone walks.

Parents are quick to notice if their child is walking differently. And while it’s often due to growing pains or a recent injury, sometimes there are other causes.

Certain genetic factors could impact your child’s gait, and abnormalities in their feet can too. The best course of action is to speak to a podiatrist and ask for his or her advice. It’s likely your child needs insoles that perhaps need to be custom-made for each foot.

Tips and Tricks for Shoe Shopping for Kids

shopping with kids

All parents want their kids to feel comfortable in their shoes and be able to run around freely. But it can be challenging to find the perfect fit, especially when they’re still not able to tell you when something is bothering them. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re going out with your kids to get a new pair of shoes.

  • Find a children’s shoe store and talk to the experts there.
  • Avoid buying shoes that require a long break-in period.
  • Keep in mind that your kid’s feet tend to swell from walking throughout the day and consider that when measuring their shoe size.
  • Don’t focus too much on what the shoes look like. It’s better to look at the quality and breathability of the shoe.
  • Kids’ right and left feet sometimes differ in size. When in doubt, choose according to the bigger foot.
  • If possible, avoid buying second-hand shoes. They’re already molded by another’s child feet and won’t provide proper support for your child’s feet.
  • Always bring appropriate socks when shopping for shoes.
  • Ask your child questions about how their feet feel when trying on shoes and have them walk around in the store.
  • Try to make the shoe shopping a fun experience.

May the force be with you….