The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

If the Shoe Fits, Part II: Buying Children’s Shoes

Posted by on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012


Yesterday we talked about buying the right-sized shoes for you, an adult (I doubt many eight year olds are reading this, but if there are any, welcome future podiatrists!). Today let’s look at some helpful hints for buying shoes for children.

  • When should my child start wearing shoes? Babies’ feet will develop and strengthen best by going barefoot, so there’s really no need to buy them shoes until they begin to walk. Think the twelve-fifteen months age range, when you’ll be ready to go out and have some fun bonding time with your child.
  • Do I need to get my child’s foot measured? Yes! Have a children’s shoe pro at a store dedicated to children do it. Don’t ask the bored model/actress/fashion designer doing time in the shoe department at Bloomingdale’s to do it (and to be honest, if you did ask, she’d probably just stare at you in confusion). Make sure the salesperson measure’s both the foot’s width and length, as babies and small children tend to have wider feet.
  • How do I know the shoe fits? Test the fit of the shoe by gently applying pressure along the sides and at the toe. If you push too hard, or your child thinks you will, he or she will curl back their toes so you won’t have a real feel for where the child’s foot is in the shoe. Look for about a half inch of space between the top of the child’s toes and the end of the shoe. It may be tempting to buy shoes that are a little too big to allow room to grow, but wearing shoes that are too big can be really damaging for the child’s foot. However, you can buy winter boots a size larger to allow for room for warm socks.
  • How do I know if my child has outgrown those shoes I just bought? Kids probably won’t come out and say, “My shoes don’t fit,” so you’ll have to keep an eye on this. If children keep taking their shoes off, or seem unhappy when you try to put them on, then that’s probably a good sign that the shoes are uncomfortable. Look for blisters or red areas on your child’s feet that may indicate your child’s shoes are too tight. You can be proactive by having your kids’ feet measured in a shoe store about every three months. A reputable store won’t lie to you and tell you that your kids’ feet have grown a whole size and you need new shoes.
  • What kind of shoes should my child wear? Start out with soft, flexible shoes that allow your child to develop foot strength and get a feel for the ground and walking. Little models of adult shoes may be cute, but your child is best served by a pair of sneakers that can take a lot of wear and tear. Once your child’s hands can handle it, take the opportunity to start them on learning to tie their shoelaces. Shoes with Velcro closures and slip on shoes are easy and help when you need to get your child out the door fast, but they’ll need to learn to tie their laces or their shoe choices will become increasingly limited. The longer they put off learning to tie their shoes, the harder it will be to learn.

Shoe shopping can be a circus; hardly any small child really gets what’s going on and they don’t love having a strange salesperson measure their feet in that weird metal thing. Being told to sit and wait while the salesperson goes off to find some shoes also isn’t any kid’s idea of a good time. Your child may cry, curl  his or her toes, refuse to stay seated, and any number of unfun things. Prepare for a shopping trip with your kids as best as you can by making sure your child isn’t overtired or hungry when you go to the store; it may be convenient to take them straight from daycare or preschool, but you might just be courting disaster. No matter what happens, just grin and bear it. The people at the store have probably seen everything your child will throw at them (and that includes literally throw at them). And enjoy it while you can–it’s only a matter of time before those same cranky toddlers will be demanding the latest $150 sneakers…

If you’re unsure how to find the right shoes for your child, or if your child is experiencing foot pain, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.