The Best Place to Find Kids' Shoes
for all Foot Shapes and Foot Problems

Second Hand Shoes for Kids – Stop Hurting Your Child’s Feet


Can children wear second hand shoes? Is it okay to buy second hand shoes for kids? I have been asked these questions by several families so I wanted to clarify a couple of points. If you are thinking of providing your child with a pair of hand-me-down shoes, think twice! Did you know that you can seriously hurt your child’s feet and cause all sorts of foot problems by wearing hand-me-down shoes?

I am always explaining to parents how it is always better to provide their children with a pair of new shoes (you can look for the cheapest shoe style) rather than providing them with hand-me-down shoes.

There are several health concerns associated with hand-me-down-shoes for kids and some of them are:

1️⃣ Hand-me-down shoes tend to mold into the shape of the child’s feet who wore them before.

2️⃣ The tread and the heel counter of the hand-me-down shoe might be worn down, which can lead to less support and stability.

3️⃣ Bacteria and fungus tend to thrive within the materials of older, used shoes.

My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes – Over a Decade of Shoe Fitting Experience!

I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years now that focuses on helping children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. I am familiar with which shoe brands and which shoe styles are better than others, and I am always telling parents how more expensive shoes don’t automatically translate into better shoes for their kids.


Pediatricians and physical therapists are always sending children with foot and leg problems our way to have them evaluated and fitted for good supportive shoes and orthotics. Most of the time the pain is related to the shoes that they are wearing.

The only type of second hand shoes that I am okay with children wearing are rain boots and snow boots —you must still check for visible signs of wear and tear.

Common Questions Parents Ask About Hand-Me-Down Shoes

➡️ “Is it okay for my child to wear hand-me-down shoes?”

I always explain to them how hand-me-down shoes can actually weaken the muscles and ligaments of the foot, make your child more prone to develop a bacterial or fungal infection, and depending on the age of the child, they can alter the shape of the child’s foot.

This is the most common reason why most parents provide their children with hand-me-down shoes:

➡️ “My children will wear these shoes for such a short period of time that the shoes won’t affect them at all. It is not worth buying a new pair because they grow out of them so quickly!”

You actually might want to rethink this. It only takes a couple of wears in the wrong shoe size or wrong shoe style for your child to develop a foot condition.

The issue with providing your child with a pair of shoes that have been worn before is that the shoes have already molded to the previous child’s foot shape, and passing them down can affect the shape of your child’s foot specially at an early stage.

I do understand that is frustrating having to replace your kids’ shoes so fast, but not providing them with a pair of good shoes will end up costing you more in the long run. This brings me to this question: Are you 100% sure that your child is wearing the correct shoe size?

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

I actually created an article that describes the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home. Go to the link below:

How to Measure Your Kids’ Foot – 2 Simple Steps to Determine Foot Length and Foot Width

In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.

The Reasons Why You Must Say No To Hand-Me-Down Shoes!

Have you noticed how when your children take their shoes off they tend to pull them off without undoing the shoelaces or the velcro strap? By taking the shoes off that way, they are stretching the heel counter of the shoe, which ends up becoming too stretched out and non-supportiveThis is where the heel counter of the shoe is located:


Now let’s take a look at the difference between the same two shoe styles but one has been worn for 2 months and the other one is brand new.

The first picture shows the worn shoe, and the picture below shows a brand new shoe. Do you notice the difference around the heel counter of the shoe? The one on the left has been stretched out. This is the type of hand-me-down shoe you will definitely want to stay away from. That shoe style won’t provide any support to your kids’ ankles.


There are several reasons for not using hand-me-down shoes. The only time that they might be appropriate is when your child is wearing a snow boot or a rain boot since that type of footwear tends to retain its original shape and it’s worn for very short periods of time.

Is Saving 40 Dollars Worth Risking Your Kids’ Foot Health?

I understand that economizing is a part of everyone’s life, no matter the income bracket. I always explain to parents that is always better to buy the cheapest new shoe, rather than using a hand-me-down shoe. You can get an everyday shoe with excellent support and structure for the price of 40 dollars.

Depending on the age of the child this shoe will last between 3 1/2 to 6 months. This is a smart investment to make since you will end up saving a lot of money if you take care of your children’s feet from an early stage.

Hand-Me-Down Shoes – Are You Hurting Your Kids’ Feet?

As mentioned before, there are several health issues related to wearing hand-me-down shoes. When a kid’s foot is inside the shoe it’s adding warmth and moisture to the shoe, making it the perfect environment for bacteria and fungus.

Did you know that fungus can thrive within the shoe for as long as a whole year? This is a risk you are taking when providing your child with a pair of hand-me-down shoes. With that said, if your child happens to develop a foot issue such as a blister and expose the underlying skin to these pathogens, you are making your child more prone to a bacterial or fungal infection.

If you have been using hand-me-down shoes for your child you have probably been saving some money, but in the long run, it will end up costing you so much more!

Buying a more economical pair doesn’t mean you have to compromise the fit or the support that the shoes provide. In fact, purchasing more expensive shoes doesn’t automatically translate into “better shoes”. I have fitted all of the shoe styles that I recommend below, and I can guarantee you that they provide excellent support, comfort and durability.

As mentioned before, you are promoting potentially serious foot issues on your child. I have fitted certain shoe styles that are made from high-quality materials and that are available for very reasonable prices.

Below you can find a selection of some of the most affordable kids’ everyday shoes that I have fitted before. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

Durable, Supportive, and Comfortable Kids’ Shoes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

These shoe styles also come in different widths such as medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW). 

Unsure About What Shoe Size You Should Order?

In each of the descriptions of the shoes, I indicate whether you need to order a half size or a whole size bigger than your child’s current foot size to provide the correct amount of growing room.

Hand-Me-Down Shoes – When Are They Appropriate?

If you are not able to afford a new pair of shoes, always grab the hand-me-down shoes and feel them to make sure that they have not been broken down and look at the tread to make sure it has not been worn off.  You should also check if the shoe is machine washable, that way you can get rid of any residual bacteria.

If you are still considering hand-me-downs shoes, there are two main factors to consider.

  • Make sure the shoes are not too worn.
  • Check the inner outsole of the shoe to make sure it has not molded to the previous child’s foot.

Don’t Forget About the Importance of Socks – Keeping Kids’ Feet Healthy!

Socks also play a key role in keeping your kids’ feet healthy, since they act as a barrier between your kids’ feet and the shoes.

The best type of socks for children are the ones that are breathable and seamless. Certain children will refuse to wear socks with their shoes because they hate the way socks feel (they feel every bump and lump), that’s why seamless socks are so important.

While I can’t get into too much detail about the importance of making sure that children always wear socks with their shoes, I explain everything you need to know about which are the best socks for children in an article called:

The Importance of Wearing Socks – Grippers or No Grippers?

Hand-me-down shoes are a big No-No when it comes to everyday footwear for your child. The child that wore the shoe before had his or her own walking habits and will wear the inner and outsole of the shoe in a particular way. The shoe will lack support, and there are several health concerns involving bacteria and fungi that can be passed down with the shoe.

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: fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com

Is your child currently wearing a hand-me-down shoe? Did you know about the negative impact this can have on your child’s feet? Have you passed down shoes before? Please share your thoughts below so other parents can benefit from your experiences.


I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kids feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

Do You Buy Your Kids’ Shoes Online?

Subscribe and get my personalized shoe size chart for free to help you find what size to order online.

Shoe Sizing Chart

12 Comments on Second Hand Shoes for Kids – Stop Hurting Your Child’s Feet

  1. This is a great page my daughters both have children now and are always having trouble picking out the best shoes for their children. I will be telling her about your site so maybe they will find help in getting shoes. I want everyone that needs shoes to be comfortable in them . You did a awesome job on this keep up the good work.

    • That’s exactly the purpose of the website! I want all parents to be informed about the importance of fitting children shoes so their children can be comfortable wearing them. Let your daughter know that she can ask any question she has, and I will be able to answer it!

  2. Hi,

    I love your site, a lot of information how not to hurt my kids feet’s.My wife entered your site and was very pleased and now she is going to spend my money 😉

    You provide with all the answers a parent might have when it comes to fitting their children shoes!

    Your web site already in my favorites.

    • The whole idea of this website is to provide parents with all the answers they might have about children shoes and how they fit. If you have any particular question do not hesitate to contact me directly!

  3. I found this website very informative. As a mother of a two year old, who never keeps her shoes on, I was interested in reading about a child’s foot health. My same daughter was born with a club foot so good shoes are important. I would not want to risk the corrective measures we did on the wrong shoes.

    • I agree with you! Definitely keep her in good supportive shoes!I hope she is doing well and try to find out why she keeps kicking her shoes off.

  4. This is great information! I never thought about the dangers of wearing hand me down shoes. What if the child used an shoe insert for support? Is there a way to treat used shoes to get rid of bacteria and fungus? It’s hard to believe that stores with hand me downs would have shoes that could be contaminated with these things. Do they not treat the used shoes in some way? What kind of long term damage could be caused by using hand me down shoes?

    • Putting a shoe inset in a hand me down shoes will not do any good. Inserts or orthotics only work in good, supportive shoes. You can always wash the shoes thoroughly to get rid of any bacteria the shoe might be carrying over. However, the main disadvantage of wearing a hand me down shoes is the lack of support you are providing to your children. This can lead to foot problems, such as foot, leg or back pain later in lifel

  5. I am so glad you wrote this post. I don’t thing a lot of parents realize how important it is to have shoes that are properly fitted for their child. Everyone has a different wear pattern in their shoes and by using a second hand pair of shoes it can really damage a child’s feet. I know shoes are expensive and that kids do wear them for only a short time so can there be permanent damage to a child’s growing foot in just a few short months?

    • Margaret,

      A shoe that does not fit properly can create a myriad of problems to a child’s foot, even if it is worn for a short period of time. As mentioned in the post, seventy percent of foot problems come from wearing the wrong type of shoe.

      Did you know that bacteria and fungus tend to thrive within the materials of the shoes? Hand-me-down shoes might save you money at first, but in the long run, it will end up costing you more.

  6. I noticed​ that you didn’t cite any studies to back up all these claims of second hand shoes seriously damaging a child’s feet, where did you get all of this information from?

    • Hello Robin,

      I have been working for a children’s shoe store for over 7 years, and my claims come from actually helping children who have foot problems due to wearing the wrong type of shoes, not just hand-me-down shoes. I don’t like to cite sources because there is so much information on the Internet that you can find sources pro hand-me-down shoes and against them, and then it’s a constant back and forth. My goal is to make parents aware of the negative impact that hand-me-down shoes can have on their children’s feet. However, all feet are different and while some kids’can develop serious foot issues from wearing hand-me-down shoes, others can wear them without any issues. I strongly recommend to parents to purchase new shoes for their kids, specially when it comes to their everyday shoes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.