Minimalist Shoes for Kids – It’s Time to Set Some Rumors Straight

It’s 2023 and the debate on whether children should wear minimalist or supportive shoes is stronger than ever. Should kids wear sneakers that imitate their feet being barefoot or should they wear sneakers that provide support? The type of shoes that children should wear is a discussion that has been up for debate for many years. There are valuable arguments and different sorts of views and actual evidence to support both claims.

One claim that minimalist shoe supporters stand by is that our ancestors didn’t wear supportive shoes. What they fail to address is that all of our barefoot ancestors did not walk, run, or jump on smooth flat concrete or slippery tile. Advances in technology have also led us to live healthier lives.

Parents need to understand that the feet are the foundation for the entire body. The bones of the foot take around 18 years to fully develop and harden; hence it is imperative to get good shoes early on to allow the foot to develop properly. This article will focus on supportive shoes and their advantages while also stating the key misconceptions about minimalist shoes for kids.

Families with children with foot issues often get referred by physical/occupational therapists and pediatricians who normally recommend fitting those kids in more substantial shoes.

What Is the Main Purpose of Wearing Shoes?

Many people believe that the main purpose of shoes is to protect the foot from injury and infection, but shoes do so much more than that! Let’s take a look at some of the features that a good pair of supportive shoes provide:

1️⃣ Help relieve the stress and impact that children impose on their feet and legs when running, jumping and playing.

2️⃣ Prevent injuries by supporting and protecting the feet.

3️⃣ Realign your kids’ body posture by helping them walk and run straighter.

4️⃣ Improve the child’s stability.

I believe that kids should wear good supportive shoes that are lightweight and flexible at the same time since they have active lives that exert an enormous amount of stress on their feet and legs. Minimalist shoes don’t provide any support, they imitate being barefoot, and provide no cushioning every time your child’s feet strike the ground.

Why would someone put their child in a shoe that provides minimal support and structure?

Let’s find out!

The 3 Main Claims of Minimalist Supporters – Why They are Wrong! 

1️⃣ Individuals who support wearing minimalist shoes are right about only one thing: kids are encouraged to wear shoes that imitate being barefoot. What they fail to say is that this only applies to a child that is learning how to walk.

As soon as children begin to walk and start putting pressure on their feet, it’s time for these children to wear a more substantial shoe, since they will be putting more pressure and stress on their feet. Remember that your kids’ feet are the foundation for their entire bodies!

2️⃣ The statement that companies promoting minimalist shoes are growing by the minute is false, at least when it comes to kids’ footwear. I also find it ironic how they complain about how much money these shoe companies make when minimalist shoes are not the cheaper option since they tend to cost even more than regular shoes.

3️⃣ Minimalist shoe supporters believe that without a good selection of minimalist shoes, “children will be forced to wear large, overly cushioned, supportive shoes that weaken their feet, and that those children will grow into adults with weak, injury-prone feet.” Several shoe companies tried offering minimalist shoes for kids but there wasn’t enough demand for them.

Should Children with Foot or Leg Pain Wear Minimalist Supportive Shoes?

When children are experiencing foot pain, the pediatrician or physical therapist will normally recommend more of a shoe (supportive), not less (minimalist). This will help the child walk straighter, and it has been proven that it will reduce or fully eliminate the pain away —I have helped hundreds of children whose feet and leg pain are relieved after fitting them in a good supportive shoe.

Could you please then explain to me how good supportive shoes weaken the feet and make the foot more prone to injuries? Supportive shoes simply provide the child structural support which is not going to take away from the musculature. We are not making the muscles weak.

Good supportive shoes will actually strengthen your kids’ feet and legs. Why do you think that a child who is flat-footed and is experiencing foot or leg pain needs to wear supportive shoes? Because wearing a good, supportive shoe allow the child to walk straighter and relieve muscle pain by redistributing body balance.


The minimalist shoe supporters always claim that they are not influenced by marketing claims or trends when it comes to good supportive footwear. These are not claims or trends folks, good supportive shoes are the best type of footwear for your children’s feet!

How to Choose the Correct Pair of Shoes for Your Child? – Get It Right!

Certain guidelines must be followed when choosing shoes for your kids to ensure proper and healthy foot development. Following these guidelines helps to ensure that your child’s feet and legs stay healthy through the coming years:

1- Price is not an indicator of quality. All good athletic shoes need to offer plenty of support and cushioning but they need to be lightweight and flexible at the same time. Shoes should be supportive across the middle, but they should always bend at the ball of the foot. Athletic sneakers should be comfortable before your child walks out of the store, there shouldn’t be any “breaking-in” time required for comfort.

2- According to APMA’s survey, sports are the main cause of foot pain in teenagers. Seventy-five percent of high school students play a school or a recreational sport, and nearly 40 percent of that group has injured their feet while playing, according to the survey.

Parents should always purchase sport-specific shoes if they are required by their coach or if the child is playing at a competitive level. Different sports require different shoes, and choosing one made specifically for that sport will prevent injury and help your kids perform at their best. It is important to research a store that specializes in athletic footwear and have the shoe fitted professionally.

Do you want to know what are the top 5 shoe brands for children? Find out now.

What Medical Professionals and Organizations are Saying…

1- The president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) David Davidson was asked about children’s footwear by Running Times Magazine, and said, “kids should not be running in minimalist footwear at all and they should be wearing brand name running shoes with good motion control, cushioning, etc…”

2- Dr. Lieberman demonstrated very well in his paper, Nature (Jan, 2010) that footwear can have a large influence on natural gait. Hence, parents should be careful to choose good supportive shoes that allow proper foot development for their kids.

3- This APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) parent flyer states that parents should select a shoe that is rigid in the middle. This will support the arch of the child’s foot to ensure proper foot development. A challenger of this APMA declaration simply conceded, claiming that there were no good studies to refute this.

What then is this buzz amidst minimalist shoe supporters, when the majority of what they claim is baseless?

APMA was founded in 1912 and, with a network of podiatrists across the United States, has become a leading resource on foot and ankle health information. Did you know that APMA put each kids’ shoe through a rigorous evaluation process, analyzing function, flexibility, and the quality of the materials?

I came across one blog from an individual who is an avid supporter of minimalist shoes and states: “As a parent and physician I believe that the APMA statements could cause harm in a developing child’s foot. An example of deformation we see now in many high school runners is hallux valgus (big toes pointed in).

Hallux valgus, or a bunion, is generally caused by ill-fitting shoes with a pointed toe box”. Though he is correct in saying that hallux valgus is caused by shoes that do not fit properly, there is a big difference between shoes that do not fit properly and supportive shoes.

I want to clarify that the medical establishment has never recognized that a child’s foot is best off when it is provided with a less supportive shoe.

I am on my feet all day when I am at work at the children’s shoe store, and I must wear good supportive shoes or I begin feeling pain in my feet and knees. Of course, this will not be the case for everyone since it will depend on each individual foot anatomy, but I am a firm believer in good supportive shoes since I have seen and experienced the positive impact that supportive shoes can provide.

Below you can find a selection of the best kids’ shoes that I have fitted before. These shoes can fit a child with medium (M), wide (W), or extra wide (XW) feet, as long as you choose the correct shoe width. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases.

The Best Shoes for Kids

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If you are unsure of your child’s exact foot length and whether your child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet, I suggest that you take a look at a virtual fitting service I created. I also will be able to determine whether your child has a high instep or not.

 The Importance of Socks – Prevent Smelly Feet and Blisters!

Socks play a key role in keeping your kids’ feet healthy since they act as a barrier between your kids’ feet and the shoes that they are wearing. I always emphasize to parents that wearing the correct sock size is just as important as wearing the correct shoe size.

Socks can help reduce your child’s sweaty feet, prevent their toes from overlapping each other, and prevent blisters and calluses by avoiding friction between the feet and the shoes.

Please stay away from minimalist shoes for your child! They will end up hurting your child’s feet and legs in the long run!

Supportive sneakers will never be a cause of injury as long as they are properly fitted. If the shoe does not fit, it doesn’t matter how supportive or unsupported it is, it will have a negative impact on your child’s feet.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly at my e-mail if you have any further questions or if you need a different pair of shoes for your child. My e-mail address is: [email protected]

What do you think of minimalist shoes? Do you prefer them over supportive shoes? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so we can all benefit from them.