My name is Juan Valenzuela and I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for ten years at a premier children’s shoe store specializing in proper fit for over forty years. We specialize in children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fitting as well. It’s important for us to carry top quality shoes that are available in different widths, since that’s the only way we can guarantee to FIT every single child.
The type of shoes that you choose for your children will play a key role in keeping their feet and legs healthy.
I have fitted some of the most supportive, lightweight,flexible, and breathable children’s shoes but if you don’t provide your child with the correct shoe size he or she won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer. By getting the correct shoe size I mean the correct shoe length and the correct shoe width, so it’s always important to find shoe styles that come in different widths such as narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide.
In this article I will share with you everything you need to know about keeping your children’s feet healthy and provide you with a selection of the best children’s shoes in the market that are available in different widths.
1-Your Kids’ Growing Feet Are Developing Feet!
Did you know that the foot is a complex structure comprised of 26 bones? We need to support and protect our kids’ feet with the correct type of shoes because bones are designed to support our entire body, adapt to uneven surfaces and absorb shock.
If you have a baby, please keep in mind that his or her foot will have more cartilage than bone, which as they grow will fuse and harden into adult bones. At this stage, we want to provide the child with a pair of soft sole shoes and allow them to walk barefoot and home, that way we can promote healthy and natural foot development.
You need to provide your baby with a pair of shoes as soon as you decide to take him or her to play outside, and the main purpose that the shoes will serve is protection.
If you have a child that is learning how to walk, START by reading a post I wrote where I describe the best shoes for babies learning how to walk:
Once you provide your child with the correct type of shoes that are the correct size, you can have the peace of mind that you are keeping your kids’ feet and legs healthy.
Even though the structure of the foot develops fully by the first 2 years, the bones themselves will not fully develop and harden until the child reaches the age of 18. This is the reason why it’s so important to provide our children with good shoes from an early stage, so that the bones are allowed to develop naturally.
You will end up saving a lot of money and time in the future by preventing foot issues to your child’s feet such as blisters, calluses, corns, as well as foot and leg pain.
One thing I want to emphasize on is that it doesn’t matter how many features a shoe has to provide, if it’s not the correct shoe size, you child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer.
Please remember this: Shoes that are too small or too narrow will hinder proper foot growth, create blisters (the toes will cramp each other) and ingrown toenails. On the other hand, shoes that are too long or too wide will allow your child’s feet to move inside the shoe and this constant movement will also lead to the creation of blisters. Shoes that are too long or too wide will compromise your child’s stability, risking serious injury.
So, START by reading a post where I describe the simplest and most effective way to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size:
Below you can find a selection of the best shoes for babies that are learning how to walk:
2-Soft Sole Or Hard Sole Shoes For Your Child?
There are two opposing opinions regarding soft sole and hard sole shoes. I believe that one is not better than the other, it’s just depends on what stage your child is in terms of walking.
When a child is learning how to walk I always fit them in shoes that come with soft soles since we want our own kids’ muscles to work to find balance and strength. We won’t to avoid their feet to rely on the strength of the shoe, since this will impede the development of muscles in the foot and ankle.
Once the child is already walking and running they will be ready for a more supportive, substantial shoe. Hard sole shoes will help to prevent foot problems such as flat feet, pronated feet, and rolled ankles.
Soft sole shoes or hard sole shoes should be chosen depending on what stage of walking your child is going through.
If you want to learn more about which shoe is more appropriate for your child take a look at these two posts I recently wrote:
3-The Younger The Foot, The Faster It Grows!
Do you feel like you are always replacing your kids’ shoes? Hang in there because as soon as your child reaches the age of 3 you won’ have to replace your kids’ shoes as often!
The reason why you feel like you are constantly buying new shoes is because the greatest changes in foot growth occur during the first 3 years. Relax, it only gets easier from now on.
I recommend getting your child’s foot measured at least once every three months to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size. Before the age of 3 you might find replacing your kids shoes every 3 months, but once they reach the age of 4 you can count on replacing them every 4 to 5 months (This does not include exceptions due to growth spurts however).
Shoes that are too short or too narrow can deform the toes and permanently damage the foot as well as creating issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.
4-Kids’ Feet Handle More Stress Than Adults’ Feet!
Once your child starts walking and putting pressure on his or her feet all the time, we will have to find a pair of hard sole (supportive shoes) to minimize the impact that the feet and legs receive every time they become in contact with the ground.
Did you know that children’s feet experience about 3 times more stress than the average adult foot?
The reason for this is that children are involved in high activity levels and greater proportion of high impact activities compared to adults. Due to this high stress that a child’s foot endures, we must provide our children with shoes that provide good shock absorption, a supportive sole, and a firm heel counter.
Please don’t confuse supportive shoes with stiffer shoes. The shoes must be supportive but still flexible enough in order to help our children strengthen the muscles on their own!
Below you can find the best selection of shoes for children that are already walking and putting pressure on their feet:
Keep in mind that all of the shoe styles above are available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide!
5-Feet Are The Foundation For Your Entire Body!
I have spoken with several foot doctors that agree that most foot problems and pains in adulthood come from wearing ill-fitting shoes when they were young.
One thing I try to always emphasize to parents is that our feet play a key role in keeping us healthy. The foot is NOT a separate entity, but an integral body part that supports the entire skeletal structure.
Wearing shoes that don’t properly FIT will put your child at risk for injury or deformity later in life. Problems with posture, walking, and even back pain are associated with wearing the wrong type of shoes or the wrong shoe size.
6-Arch Support For Children Should Be Different Than Arch Support For Adults!
Has your child been diagnosed with flat feet or rolled ankles?
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t notice your babies arch, since at that stage the arch will usually not be visible or developed until the child reaches 2 years old, and even then, it is not a fully developed arch.
This is the reason why you won’t find many babies and toddlers shoes with arch support as it is not necessary.
Once that your child reaches the age of 5 the arch should be visible. If at this stage your child complains about foot or leg pain (and you notice that they are flat-footed), you should take him or her to the pediatrician or physical therapist so they can evaluate your kids’ feet.
After the age of 3, you should start looking for shoes that include some type of arch support and a firm heel counter, padded collars and flexibility and durability.
Below you can find a selection of the most supportive and durable shoes for your child:
7-Shoes Affect Sweaty Feet, And Sweaty Feet Affect Shoes!
Are you having issues with your child’s feet smelling bad?
Kids’ feet sweat a lot. Did you know that a kid’s foot sweats about 2-3 times more than an adult’s foot? Believe it or not this is one reason why kids are known to wear down shoes faster than adults.
Besides affecting the durability of the shoes, the sweat can lead to the development of bacteria inside the shoes which can lead to infections. For these reasons, it’s important to choose breathable shoes that allow the moisture and heat from your child’s foot to escape, and allow cool air in.
If you want to learn more about which are the best shoes for a child that has sweaty feet you can take a look at an article I wrote where I describe the best type of shoes for children with sweaty feet:
The type of socks that you choose for your child will also affect how much your child’s feet sweat.
While I can’t get into too much detail about what are the best socks for children with sweaty feet you can learn more about them in this article:
8-Shoe Materials Make A Difference!
The best type of shoe material that you can provide to your child is leather not just in terms of durability but also when it comes to breathability and flexibility. Shoes made out of leather tend to mold to your child’s feet and soften with wear, which is ideal for an active little foot.
If you have been looking for a pair of leather shoes for your child, you can find the best kind in an article I wrote called:
Some synthetic and canvas materials will breathe and flex like leather, but some will not, so always be careful when choosing shoes made of synthetic materials.
Please refrain from providing your child with shoes made out of plastics, as they do not breathe or stretch, and they can easily cause sweaty feet and several foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.
Have you been having issues finding a particular shoe stye for your child? Please do not hesitate to contact me and I will HELP you find it!
Do you have a children’s shoe store in your area that you TRUST? I get contacted by parents daily and they want to know whether there is a good children’s shoe store in their area, so if you do have one please let us know in the comments section below so all parents can benefit from your experience.