I remember the first time I was choosing walking shoes for Quinn. It was around January last year and absolutely freezing. Quinn was walking for about a month and would not want to sit in the pram for longer than 10mins. Toddling in socks was not an option.
I didn’t know much about children’s shoes then, I just vaguely knew, they should be measured and fitted by a professional. When I first went to our local shoe shop, I remember picking up a pair from the shelf and inspecting them thoroughly having no idea what I was actually looking for. My mum always told me to check the Velcro, so I did. Then I thought to look for weaknesses such as pulled out stitches or any holes and deformities. Then I tried to pull the insole out. I dag in with my nail but it would not move. I tried again this time from a different angle. At that point my weird jerking movements were caught in a peripheral vision of a guy from the till. He rushed in, to save the shoes from imminent death. Oh boy, this nearly ended up with a damaged pair of first walkers I surely would need to pay for or worse, being banned from the only shoes shop in the area.
“Can you remove the insole for me?” I asked nervously.
“The insole can’t be removed, they are glued onto the shoe.” He replied, looking at me like I was crazy. He obviously didn’t get this request before.
I was a bit puzzled. Most of the shoes I own have removable insoles. I remember my sister removing them from my nephew’s shoes to dry them thoroughly once the shoes got wet from jumping in puddles (in my care). I didn’t understand why so many British brands do not accommodate this feature and I still don’t understand it now. Maybe it is a marketing bluff. Who knows.
Walking through puddles
Removable insoles are a great tool for so many things. As mentioned earlier if you can remove the insoles when they soak up water, you can prevent any mould growth in the shoes. Similarly, the insoles may get soaked up by sweat from little feet; which is normal as little feet sweat 5x more than adult feet. To prevent any infections, it is a good idea to take the insoles out every now and then to inspect the shoes and let them air dry.
Checking the fit
In the past year, the only way to get a new pair of shoes was online. Shops were closed on an off, however little feet did not stop growing. One of a very awesome and basic way how to check the fit of little feet is to remove the insoles and ask children to step on top of them. You can easily see whether their feet fit within the insoles*
. Similarly, you can see if the shoes are way too wide. Each side should have about 2 mm space for wiggle room. If there is way more, shoes are too wide. Insoles also reveal the shape of the shoes. Some children can have very wide dominant toes and need shoes that are the widest in the toe box area.
*(Insoles are a little smaller than shoes themselves, this is a great way to get an idea about the fit but there is always a little more space around)
One bling and they will be in college
Kids grow really fast and growth is often unpredictable. There tend to be growth spurts around certain ages but that doesn’t have to apply to every child (12m, 15m, 18m, 24m etc.) Do you remember I mentioned little feet sweat a lot? This is actually such a helpful tool for us. Due to the sweat they tend to leave a mark or better, footprint on the insoles. That footprint can be very helpful in checking their growth. Just take the insoles out every couple of weeks and check whether their longest toe is near the end. Once they are about 4mm before the end, it is a good idea to change shoes for a bigger model.
Colder weather? No problem
In some places the winter never gets too cold. In the southern UK especially, we have very mild winters with a couple of snowy days a year, if we are lucky. Which is an advantage for parents in the sense that they don’t need to buy super warm wool lined boots for those freezing days. If you can remove the insole, you can replace it by a woolen one which will keep your little one’s feet warm on colder morning. Plenty of websites sell woolen insoles and you can cut them into the size to fit your little shoes.
To sum up, I personally find removable insoles essential for so many reasons. So next time, if you are after new shoes, check if they have removable insoles. Because they rock!