Choosing children’s footwear should be more about function than fashion

Children have very delicate feet and they only become fully developed around the age of 18 years. Till then, we should focus more on how to select footwear that provides adequate support without weighing their feet down but enables them to comfortably do various activities during the day.

Selecting the right footwear for our children can be a challenging and daunting exercise especially if kids are at the age when they have become very energetic. Sitting still can be a challenge when wanting to try various pairs of footwear on in a store. Unless you stick to one brand, I would recommend to have their feet measured before selecting the right shoe size for them. Every brand, every shoe manufacturer uses different shoe moulds (lasts) to make their footwear, that is why you may find that a size 4 in one brand will fit perfectly on your child’s feet, however when you are ready to buy another pair from another brand, the size 4 may seem small or may not last for months. Ideally, each brand should supply their own shoe size charts for each of their retail stores so parents can have the peace of mind that they have selected the right size even when their kids are not with them to try the selected pair on.

Once you know the correct shoe size of your child for the selected brand, you should look at the structure and material of the footwear in a store. While we all love cute and fashionable clothing and shoes for our kids, selecting footwear should be more about the function of the shoe than the colour, glitter or pattern placed on them. In addition, your child’s age is also a contributing factor towards which structural design you should opt for when selecting footwear which they wear daily.

Key features, to look at, are:

  1. the material which the shoe is made of, inside and outside,
  2. firm ankle and heel support to prevent horizontal and vertical movements of the feet
  3. flexibility of the soles in order to avoid restrictions in stepping movements and to promote a close to barefoot experience
  4. light-weight design: a heavy, hard material will restrict children in developing correct gait patterns
  5. adjustable straps e.g. Velcro, laces or zips, enables kids to develop their independence through being able to easily take their shoes off and put them back on, on their own.

I mentioned earlier that the function of the shoe and the age of your child also determines the recommended design or structure of footwear that you should select for him or her. We will be discussing this topic further in our next article. In brief, if you intend to buy footwear for your little one that he or she can wear on a daily basis then your choice of footwear should have all the key features of a good shoe in order to provide comfort and to support their feet development. If you are searching for shoes/ sandals that children can wear at the poolside or seaside while you are on a holiday, then bear the following features of good beachwear shoes in mind (e.g. easy to dry, non-slip soles, light-weight, flexible etc.). However, avoid having them wear these types of beachwear shoes daily, as these will not support their feet development  correctly as intended. The same applies for trainers or sporty shoes which are mostly designed for doing various activities like running long distances, playing soccer or jumping, however, will not have the right functional design to use these for everyday use.

What are the key determining factors for you when selecting your child’s footwear?

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