Before babies start walking, they don’t need shoes. In fact, supportive shoes like hard-soled Mary Janes may actually get in the way of your child’s mobility. Socks, booties, and soft-soled baby shoes are useful for warmth, but bare feet are fine, too.
Once your child takes those first steps, it’s time for real shoes. Unlike “baby shoes,” which are slipper-like, first shoes will have a flexible, nonskid sole (probably rubber) and a substantial upper. Shoes protect kids’ feet outdoors and anywhere else that could be hazardous, such as a splintery surface. Indoors, it’s still a good idea to let new walkers wear protective soft baby shoes or socks. Toddling around with feet bare or lightly covered actually helps little ones build strength and coordination in their legs and feet.
How to choose shoes for kids
When choosing shoes for your children, you must be extra precautions as children are not able to consider everything by themselves, such as shoes are too tight or too loose, there is not enough room for toes etc. Research shows an alarming number – two-thirds of children wear the wrong size of shoes and half of these children suffer from deformities as a consequence. Children up to 10 years old cannot evaluate and tell you whether the shoe fits right. Therefore, it is important to know your child’s feet to be able to choose correctly. Before buying any shoes, measure both feet first (yes, both feet, as feet are seldom identical).
How to measure their foot?
- Place a foot-measuring/shoe-fitting or a piece of paper on even ground (avoid plush carpeting or pebbly surfaces)
- Place the foot of your child flat on the paper (he or she must be standing, not sitting, during measuring)
- Put his/her weight in on the foot as it makes it the foot longer
- Take a pencil and mark the heel and the furthest point from the heel – the longest measurement
- Use a ruler and measure the difference between these two points
- Do the same for the second foot (difference might be +/- 0.5 cm)
- The number you get is the foot size (not the shoe size, as standard shoe sizing may be misleading)
If you have an option to compare their measurement with an actual insole of the chosen to shoe, do it. Compare the numbers (the length) and then step on it (to compare the width), their foot must not outreach in any direction.
Additional room number
Long story short – an “additional room number” measures the empty space between the longest toe and the shoe itself (the front point of the shoe). This is a very important number when buying shoes for children. Take their foot size (the number you got when measuring both of the feet) then add 10 to 12 mm (the ideal “additional room number”). The total is the final number you are looking for. The “additional room number” can be up to 18 mm, but the shoe must still fit perfectly around the ankle.
The feet should have enough room not only in the front but also on the sides. The width of the shoe must be at least identical to the width of the foot. Ideally, the width of the shoe is 0.2 cm – 0.5 cm wider than the foot.
To wrap it all up, when choosing any shoes, you should use the foot size (not the shoe size) plus the “additional room number”. Always check the inner length of the shoe – not only the number – as it may vary depending on the manufacturer or different types of shoes.
If you have any questions about how to choose shoes for kids or would like to offer any insight you have gotten over the years (from your personal experiences), please leave a comment below. I would love to hear all about it!