Finding the right shoes for wiggly toddlers or preschoolers isn't the easiest of tasks for parents. We have been there too, and it is not fun! However, it is necessary for little ones' feet to wear the correct shoes so they can continue to grow and thrive.
Our little ones' well-being, whether it is short term or long term, can be affected by their diets or lack of sleep. The same way we think about the importance of their healthy sleeping and eating habits, we should think about their feet development, as it is their feet that will carry them for the rest of their lives.
Studies have shown that selecting the wrong footwear can lead to a variety of issues later in life such as incorrect posture that causes back pain, feet pair or damaged toes. This is why we have prepared a few tips on how to measure your child's feet and what to look for when buying shoes!
When looking for new shoes keep in mind:
- Flexibility – especially first walking shoes should have a flexible sole. Very rigid shoes won't allow the toes to bend freely which can cause balance issues and toe damage. The shoes should bend well so when the child walks the sole bends at the same place as their toes.
- Sizing – for preschool children you should be choosing shoes that are approximately 12 mm bigger than your child’s feet. 5-6 mm is for free movement of toes and further 5-6 mm allows for growth. As children’s feet grow quickly it is important to regularly check space in your child’s shoes. If your child has only around 5 mm space in the front, the shoes should be swapped for a bigger size. Never let your child completely fill in their shoes as that can seriously damage their feet or toes.
- Toe space – the top of the shoes should be as toe-accommodating as possible. They should be round rather than pointy, or be anatomically shaped. Pointy shoes do not allow free movement of toes and can cause serious damage to the feet or misalignment of toes.
- Right fit around ankles - the shoes should be fastened securely around their ankles to stop the feet from moving around and sliding forward towards the toe box. Remember, your toddlers bones in their feet are very soft until they are approximately 3 years old. Feet sliding towards the end of toe box can cause toe damage.
Natural materials - children's feet sweat more than those of adults. Hence it is important to buy shoes from natural, breathable materials, and ideally, have a removable insole to prevent bacteria growth.
Feet types and shapes
Every child is unique and so are their feet. There are many things to consider for when looking for suitable shoes for your little ones. We have outlined a few important ones to help you choose the right fit:
- Width - your child's feet width can vary from narrow to very wide (some brands differentiate these as follow: as E - narrow, F - standard, G - wide and H - extra wide). We provide you with measurements of width in our shoes at the toe joints which can be often (but not always) the widest part of the feet. The best way to see whether the width is right is to take the insole from shoes out and place child's feet on top of them. Some insoles are a few millimetres smaller than the shoes which can sometimes be indicated by the manufacturers or seller.
- Instep - some children have very high insteps and some have very low/shallow one. This is very hard to determine and can be sometimes seen in the product description. However, whether the shoe fits around the ankles and the instep is usually visible from the outside when trying the shoes on. For example, you might not be able to pull the straps to hug your child's feet well or you might pull the strap to the maximum and the feet still seem to be "floating" in the shoe.
- Foot shape/ toe shape - and particularly shape around the toes is a very important point to consider. Children can have feet with dominant toes, for example. meaning that their widest part of their feet are toes rather than toe joint area or a second toe is visibly the longest toe. To summarize, there are several types of shapes and we are happy to help when in doubt!
If you are looking for some extra useful info, find links below:
Click here for our practical feet measuring guide.