|Buying Shoes for ToddlersThe ins and outs of buying the best toddler shoes for your little one.
WebMD FeatureReviewed by Louise Chang, MDAmanda Ezman is like a lot of moms when it comes to shoe shopping. Buying a pair of shoes for herself is fun and focused on fashion; shoe shopping for her 2-year-old daughter, Lilah, requires function to come first.
“When Lilah started crawling and standing, I wanted her to feel her feet and sense of balance, so I went with a softer pair of shoes,” says Ezman, who lives in Oneida, N.Y. “And then when she started walking, I wanted her to have protection and stability, so I went with something a little sturdier, like a sneaker.”
Ezman’s approach to buying shoes for toddlers is right on track. But for many parents, finding the best toddler shoes isn’t so easy. WebMD asked experts to offer advice on shoe shopping for your little wanderer.
Although putting your 3-month-old in a pair of patent leather Mary Jane’s is OK for a special occasion, shoes are best left off your baby’s feet in the beginning.
“Babies’ feet just aren’t built for shoes,” says Joanne Cox, MD, associate chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Their feet have little bones, muscles, and tendons that need to grow and benefit from exercise, she says, and that can be difficult if they’re constantly scrunched in a pair of shoes.
It’s not until they are pulling to stand on their own two feet or actually walking — generally around age 1 — that babies need a little more protection.
“Before that, socks will do just fine,” Cox tells WebMD.
Tips for Buying the Best Toddler Shoes
When your toddler becomes mobile, protecting his or her feet requires Mom and Dad know a thing or two about buying the best toddler shoes.
Here is some advice from the experts on navigating the baby shoe market:
Hard soled vs. soft: Just like adult shoes, toddler shoes with soles that are too soft can cause slips and falls. “You want a shoe with a little bit of a sole, to minimize accidents,” Cox says. “Usually, a leather or rubber sole will help provide the traction your toddler needs.”
Sneakers vs. boots: “Sneakers are good because they generally don’t constrain the foot and allow for proper development,” says Steven G. Tillett, DPM, a foot and ankle specialist in Portland, Ore. Also, sneakers are usually constructed out of canvas and pliable leather, allowing the shoe to mold to a child’s foot for a good fit, he explains.
Cheap vs. expensive: “For young children who are just learning to walk, inexpensive shoes are OK,” Cox says. The key is not so much cost — it’s that the shoe fits.
Open-toed vs. closed: “Open-toed shoes don’t offer a lot of foot protection for a child just learning to walk, so closed-toed shoes are generally better,” Cox says. And the same goes for shoes like Crocs — kids can easily trip on these types of shoes if they’re just learning to walk and not entirely stable, so hold off on these until around age 2 or later, Cox says.
New vs. used: Although it might be tempting to use hand-me-down shoes from friends or family to save a few bucks, this is one area that requires you buy new. “Kids’ shoes mold to their feet,” Cox says. “If you use a hand-me-down pair of shoes, you are forcing your child’s foot into a shoe that has already molded to the shape of someone else’s foot, which means your toddler could end up with blisters.”
Shoe Fittings for Toddlers
It all boils down to whether a shoe fits your toddler’s foot well. The first step in buying toddler shoes is to have your child’s foot sized by an expert.
“Go to a store that specializes in children’s shoes and work with a knowledgeable salesperson to get a good fitting,” Cox says.
There are three key areas of the foot that you should focus on when buying toddler shoes: the front of the shoe, the back, and the width. All three will play a part in whether or not the shoe fits properly.
“First, you want the appropriate length in the front of the shoe,” says Tillett, who is also a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. “The general rule of thumb is you want about a centimeter to a half inch of space in the front of the shoe. Too big [and] they could be unstable; too small and it constrains the foot.”
Width is also very important, Tillett says.
Kids’ feet tend to be wider when they are younger, and as the foot grows, the length proportionately catches up to the width. So you want a shoe to accommodate a wider foot, and you need it to not be too restrictive or too tight through the arch.
“The key to making sure a shoe is the right width is to use the tongue of the shoe as a guide,” Tillett says.
The tongue of the shoe and the edges where the laces or Velcro are usually located should be parallel; if there is too much space between them, the shoe maybe too tight, and if they overlap too much, the shoe is too loose, Tillett says.
Finally, the back of the shoe should offer some wiggle room as well.
“You want to make sure the heel of the shoe is not too loose so they slip out of it, and not too constricting that it puts strain on the Achilles tendon,”Tillett says. “The rule of thumb here is that you should be able to slip your pinky finger in the heel, but only up to the first knuckle. Anything more than that and the shoe is too big, and anything less and it’s too tight.”
Tips for Buying Shoes for Toddlers
Your toddler will need a new pair of shoes and a new sizing about every two to four months, experts say. So before you go out and buy a dozen pairs of shoes for your little one, you might want to focus on the basics.
“You really only need one, or maybe two, pairs of shoes for your toddler — a play shoe like a sneaker, and possibly a dress-up shoe,” Cox says.
When you are buying toddler shoes, each shopping trip should be treated like the first — examine all aspects of the shoe and make sure it fits all around. And, an important tip to remember is that kids’ shoes are different from brand to brand, style to style, and sometimes even from shoe to shoe, Cox says. So the “trying on” experience is important.
Also, bring a pair of socks with you when you’re shoe shopping for your toddler.
“In general, you want your child to wear socks with his shoes to prevent chafing,” Cox says.
Finally, when you’ve followed the advice of an expert shoe salesperson, and used your own rules of thumb to gauge whether or not a shoe fits, follow one last simple test when buying toddler shoes: Ask your little one to walk around in them.
“I would watch my daughter walk around in the shoe,” Ezman says. “I didn’t really worry so much about the style of the shoe — instead I thought about whether it looked comfortable, and fit well.”
Trust me there are way more than 10 things to know about feet but here is a fun article here from Kids Discover it’s called 10 Facts About Your Feet. Like the fact that one quarter of your body’s bones are in your feet. Each normal foot has 33 joints, 26 bones, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments. Most people have 28 bones in each foot.
~ Dr. Tillett
• Find a shoe store that is trained to and will measure your kid’s feet. A trained shoe fitter will check for length of the Heel to toe and heel to ball of the foot as well as length. That funny little think that rests against the side of the big toe on a Brannick Device (Foot Measuring Device).
→ Important: Feet should be measured when standing not sitting.
• Choose leather uppers or other breathable shoes to reduce the chances of fungal infections.
• Avoid slip-ons, rather choose lace-ups, straps or Velcro as these act like a seat-belt, keeping the feet secure.
• Flats and ballet pumps do not provide support.
→ Ideally the arch area should offer support.
• The heel cup of the shoe should fit exactly without being too tight or too loose.
→ Your should not be able to slip your finger past the first knuckle in the top of the heel, between it and the heel of the foot.
• The toe area should allow the toes to move and not be squashed at the sides.
• Allow about a finger width’s space between the toes and the end of the shoe for growth. Check this periodically to make sure your child’s feet haven’t had a growth spurt.
• Heels should have a broad base and be moderately low, but not flat for young children.
• Wear new shoes in the house first to make sure they do not hurt or rub.
• Finally, it is always a good idea to check your children’s feet and shoes regularly for blisters, cuts, infections, etc. and watch-out for any growth-spurts!
Avoiding Sport’s Injurys; Like Ankle Sprains, Turf Toe, Ingrown Toenails (paronychia) Heel Pain, Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Sever’s Disease (Syndrome – Dumb to call it a Disease) 🙂 Stress Fractures and More)
As both a coach of multiple sports and as a foot specialist (Podiatrist), I have learned the importance of Sport-specific shoes and how they can really elevate your game and help you avoid injury. Make sure not to just have your feet measured but make sure that the shoe fitter knows to check the length of your foot from heel to ball – yeah, kinda different hugh? That funny little gauge that is rested against the side of your big toe actually measures the true size of your foot. Although your foot may measure a size “9” from heel to toe, the true length of your foot could measure a “10” from “heel to ball”. You guessed it, that means you should actually be wearing a size “10”. Many shoe fitters don’t understand this. So when a shoe salesman is running to get you larger sizes because the measured size just doesn’t cut it, that means they don’t really have a clue about the true size of your foot, or even worse they don’t know the ins-and-outs of the variances in the shapes of the shoes they carry. Politely excuse yourself, and find a specialty shoe store to buy your new kicks.
If you play a sport at least two to three times a week, you should wear a sport-specific shoe.
Common foot injuries include: sprains, tendinitis, and stress fractures
The ideal basketball shoe should:
• Have a thick, rigid sole that gives support while running and jumping while not being so flexible that your foot has to absorb all of the force.
• High-tops will give you the support to cut quicker and change directions better on your cross-over.
Common foot injuries include: sprained ankles, ingrown toenails and turf toe.
• Not smash your toes together.
• or on the flip side, not have more than a half inch of space (typically – the sideways thumb trick on the front of your shoes) so you don’t jamb the front of your shoes into the turf when ripping a shot to the top corner of the goal.
• Have the right stud (cleat) type for the type of field that you will be playing on most often.
soft, hard, or firm.
FOOTBALL & LACROSSE
Common foot injuries include: Heel Pains (especially in the 10-14 year old players), turf toe, Achilles tendinitis.
The ideal football cleat should:
• A decent amount of high ankle support if you are playing on the line or if you have had ankle issues and you play a position where you make frequent cuts (sideways movements)
• Allow for proper traction in both wet and dry conditions, as well as
- Have the right stud (cleat) type for the type of field that you will be playing on most often.
Common foot injuries include: Heel and Arch pain (plantar fasciitis), shin splints, Morton’s neuroma (pain in the ball of foot or a toe going numb)
The ideal running shoe should:
• Provide significant shock absorption, to lessen the impact.
• Accommodate the shape of your foot (Running shoes come in different shapes – pretty cool)
- and based on your foot function offer appropriate control of your heel (A rigid heel cup can help reduce your pronation – stop your arch from dropping too much)
There are approximately 16 million Americans with diabetes. Approximately 25% of them will develop foot problems related to their diabetes, and may be at risk for serious complications. Protective footwear (specially designed ‘Diabetic Shoes’) can help them in the fight to prevent a large percentage of the 68,000 diabetic amputations that occur EACH YEAR.
This risk is so great and the need for special shoes so important that, even Medicare recognizes the importance of preventative footcare. Medicare has passed “The Therapeutic Shoe Bill” which pays for “at risk” diabetic patients to obtain one pair of ‘Qualifying’ Diabetic shoes and 3 pairs of specially designed, removable diabetic shoe inserts each calendar year.
As a service to our patients we proudly offer a full line of quality footwear. We are working exclusively with the Dr. Comfort shoe company to provide you with the highest quality diabetic footwear. From the design of the shoe to the materials that go into its construction, every effort is made to provide the utmost comfort and protection. The shoes are doctor designed, patient tested and certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association. Click here to see: a sampling of Our Diabetic Shoe Selection.
Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions, or want to check out the display in our office. Set up an appointment to see if you qualify for Medicare’s Diabetic Shoe Program. If so, our very experienced staff will measure, fit and dispense the shoes as well as customize the Diabetic insoles specifically to protect your feet.