Finding shoes that FIT, are FASHIONABLE and helpful to the healthy DEVELOPMENT of your child’s feet is not an easy thing to do.
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.
I have helped numerous children who were experiencing foot and leg pain to reduce their pain or fully eliminate it.
We get new customer referrals every week, from both word of mouth as well as pediatricians, for foot and leg pain. Most of the children coming in for pain and discomfort are not wearing the correct SHOE SIZE or the correct SHOE STYLE.
I have noticed that most of these families were making the same mistakes when buying shoes for their children, so I decided to create a post where I explain these mistakes and how to overcome them.
Before I begin, please REMEMBER this: It doesn’t matter how supportive, well-made, breathable, lightweight, and flexible the shoe that you purchase for your child is, if it is not fitted properly, your child will not get any of the benefits that the shoe has to offer.
Kids’ feet grow so fast that buying increasingly larger shoes for them is inevitable until they finally reach their teenage years. That is why buying footwear for children can be very frustrating – not only the constant financial expenditure but also the knowledge parents have to possess in order to choose the right pair of shoes.
In this post, I will explain the five most common mistakes parents make when buying their kid’s shoes and how to overcome them!
Mistake #1 – What They Measure Correlates To Their Shoe Size!
Most parents believe that whatever size their children measure in the shoe measuring device (called the Brannock Device) that automatically translates to their child’s correct shoe size. This is by far the most common mistake parents make.
Please keep in mind that the size that your child measures on the shoe measuring device is only a STARTING POINT when it comes to finding the correct shoe size. Every shoe style is cut differently since shoes can run short, long, wide, or narrow.
For example, if your child measures a size 10 on the shoe measuring device that doesn’t mean he or she will be a size 10 in all shoes. You might need a 10 ½ if the shoe runs true to size, you might need a size 11 if the shoe runs short, or you even might need a 9 ½ if the shoe runs long!
That is the reason why I always recommend parents to take their children to their local children’s shoe store, where a shoe fitter can properly measure their feet and find shoes that FIT.
In the case where there is no local children’s shoe store and you must measure yourself, or take your child to a department store which usually employs sales people and not fitters, here are some suggestions to follow. Always make sure both of their feet are measured (since most of us have one foot bigger than the other), and that the shoes are fitted to the bigger foot.
IMPORTANT TIP: Remember that children’s feet grow fast and sometimes it can be hard to keep up with them. Take a look at a post I wrote where I describe how often you should be replacing your children’s shoes:
Mistake#2: Thinking That Shoes Only Come In Medium Widths!
Please remember, it doesn’t matter how NARROW or how WIDE your children’s feet are, there is at least one particular shoe style out there that will FIT the shape of his or her feet perfectly.
Most parents are not aware of the fact that shoes come in different widths, and they end up buying the shoes TOO LARGE to compensate for their children’s wide feet, or TOO SHORT to compensate for their children’s NARROW FEET.
This is also one of the most common mistakes parents make.
If your child has narrow feet, there are certain shoe brands that FIT narrow better than others such as Asics or Saucony. You can also purchase lace shoes, which will hug the feet better and make the shoes FIT properly. In fact, if your children have narrow feet, take a look at a post I wrote where I describe the best narrow shoes for children:
The same applies to children with wide or extra wide feet. There are shoes that actually come in extra wide widths and they are made by New Balance, Saucony, and Stride Rite.
Don’t be fooled by the sales associate telling you how this shoe runs wider than the other. Shoes in extra wide widths do EXIST. There is another article I wrote where I describe the best shoes for children with extra wide feet and you can find it here:
So remember, shoe length and shoe width have equal importance when finding the correct shoes for your child!
Mistake #3: My Child Hates Wearing Socks With His/Her Shoes!
I have seen this numerous times, and I understand, certain children can’t tolerate the way socks feel. However, keep in mind that socks act as a barrier between our kids’ feet and the shoes.
Many parents believe that shoes can be worn without socks, but socks help prevent the build up of bacteria as well as also cushioning your kids’ feet so they don’t rub against the shoe.
For example, when children don’t wear socks they might get blisters at the back of their heels or on the top of their toes. The shoes will also start wearing down faster, especially the inner sole.
Socks also play a key role during the different seasons. Your little one’s feet need to be protected from the damp cold of winter and hot, dry summer.
Naturally, you will want warm but at the same time breathable socks for winter and thinner, cool socks for summer. That is the practical side. Kids, on the other hand, think nothing of these practical considerations. They want kids socks that are fun!
When buying kids socks, a common mistake parents make is assuming the hose will fit into the shoe. Not necessarily. While summer socks easily slide into a sneaker, winter socks can be so thick that your kid’s feet become uncomfortably “smooshed”. Make sure your kids winter shoes are just a tiny bit bigger to accommodate the thicker sock.
While I can’t get into too much detail abut the importance of wearing the correct type of socks for children, there is an article that will explain you everything you must know about your kids’ socks.
Also, if your child feels every bump and lump in his or her shoes, take a look at this article which describes the best seamless socks for children. These socks make a huge difference if your child can’t stand how socks feel!
Mistake#4: Hand-Me-Down Shoes
Let me start off by saying that I am only okay with hand-me-down shoes as long as it’s a winter or a rain boot. No other type of footwear should be passed around among children.
There are several health concerns associated with second hand shoes for kids and some of them are:
- Hand-me-down shoes tend to mold into the shape of the child’s foot who wore it first.
- The tread and the heel counter of the hand me down shoe might be worn down, which can lead to less support and stability.
- Bacteria and fungus tend to thrive within the materials of older, used shoes.
Please don’t give your child hand-me-down shoes, it’s always better to provide them with the cheapest but new pair of shoes, than one that has already been worn.
According to a survey conducted in the US, 70 percent of kids wear ill-fitting shoes, and their parents do not even notice it. As I discussed in another article about children’s shoes, while larger shoes for children might mean saving a little extra money for parents, this could be very dangerous for kids. A little space between toes and shoes gives kids feet room for breath and wiggling, but too much space could cause them to trip and also create several foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.
It is OK for parents to buy larger clothes for children, but they should NEVER buy longer shoes!
Mistake#5: Wearing Fashion Shoes Instead Of Sneakers
The following is a common question parents ask about their children’s shoes: Can children wear fashion shoes or boots instead of sneakers all day? If I am to answer that, I would say yes. Surprised? They can but should they? Is it healthy for their feet?
When it comes to children, it is not safe to allow them to wear fashion shoes for too many hours. They might be safe and healthy when worn for activities that require walking short distances or indoors, but not for long periods of time. Crocs, for example, are not appropriate when children are physically active but perfect when they are not. You should not allow your kids wear fashion shoes that aren’t comfortable all day. Instead, they should wear something supportive.
I also wanted to mention that another critical aspect of choosing a pair of well-fitting shoes is that they should have different shoes for different purposes. While velcro makes it easy for kids to put on shoes by themselves, children that are very active and can keep running for hours must wear sneakers with laces because they prevent shoes from falling off their feet quickly.
Before you leave I wanted to provide you with a selection of the best fitting and most durable supportive children’s shoes!
These shoes are also available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide! I always recommend to parents to take their children to their local kids shoe store to be properly fitted for shoes, but if you don’t have one in your area, take a look at a post I wrote to find out how to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size:
The shoes below will fit a child that has narrow, medium, or wide feet (choose the width accordingly).
This first selection of shoes fit “short”, which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
The shoes below will fit a child with medium, wide, or extra wide feet.
This selection of shoes fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
Have you made any of the mistakes mentioned above? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so we can all benefit from them!