We get a lot of questions about children’s feet and what parents should consider when shopping for shoes. So here are my answers to some of the most common questions we get:
Q: How fast does my child’s feet grow?
A: Feet grow the fastest during your child’s first three years. You should have their feet measured every three months to make sure that their shoes are fitting good, and don’t be surprised if you have to buy a bigger pair every 3-6 months. On average, your child’s feet can grow 6 inches in their first 10 years! Yikes!
Q: Why isn't there any arch support in toddler shoes?
A: A child’s arch doesn’t actually start to develop until around age 2, and it won’t be fully developed until puberty. A young child will have a “built in” arch support in a fat pad, which means that the shoes they wear at this age does not need an arch support. Around age 2-3 you will start seeing some more arch support in your child’s shoes.
Q: What material is best for my child’s shoes?
A: Leather is the best material for your child’s feet, because it breathes, stretches and flexes. It’s also durable and will last through your child’s wear and tear. Canvas can also be good, but beware of synthetic materials which don’t breathe and can make your child’s feet sweat.
Q: Can I just buy a size bigger so they last longer?
A: Your child’s feet grow fast, I know! But there is a really good reason why your child’s shoes should not be too big or too small. Too small shoes can cause pain, blisters and even ingrown toenails. But too big shoes are really no better. They can rub on your child’s heels and cause blisters, and will hinder your child’s walking, causing them to stumble and trip. This is why you want to get them sized on a regular basis to make sure they are not growing out of the shoes they are wearing.
Q: Laces or Velcro?
A: Ah, the battle between laces and Velcro! There isn't necessarily a clear winner here. Laces give you a bit more control as to how tightly the shoes fit. But Velcro is easier and faster to put on, something that has become appreciated in schools with more children than one teacher can help. Velcro can also be helpful if your child has a thicker foot, (also called a high instep) as they often open up wider than a lace-up shoe.
Q: What should I be looking for in my children’s shoes?
A: Children put a lot of stress on their feet, they jump, run, skip and climb. They need a shoe with good shock-absorption and that is flexible so that their muscles and bones can move and develop properly. They should have a good quality foot bed with a well defined heel contour and padded collars for comfort. Look for breathable, durable materials like leather.
The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for your child’s next pair of shoes, is that the feet have the responsibility of supporting the whole skeletal structure of the body. Issues with bad posture and back pain later in life can often be traced back to wearing ill fitting or poorly made shoes as a child. It pays to invest in your child’s feet now!