You might have read our story about the little British girl who got badly cut from her new jelly shoes (you can read it here). The shoe manufacturer said this was the first time that anything like it happened to the company and will launch a proper investigation. Parents also wondered whether it could have been the fit.
While no clear answer is forthcoming yet, the story emphasizes the importance of finding the right pair of shoes for your toddler. Remember, at this stage, fit and comfort always wins over fashion. Good shoes offer first-time walkers the support and stability they need.
To ensure you buy your toddler the perfect pair, remember these 7 guidelines the next time you go shoe shopping for your little one.
1. Get measured. Getting your child’s feet measured should be the first thing you should do when buying him shoes. “Go to a store that specializes in children's shoes and work with a knowledgeable salesperson to get a good fitting,” says Joanne Cox, associate chief of general pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Boston. Keep in mind that children’s feet grow fast. Your toddler will need to be resized every two to four months.
2. Check the fit. Have your toddler stand up with the shoes on both feet. Make sure his toes aren’t curled inwards as toddlers tend to do.
First, check the fit at the front of the shoe by pressing to see if there is about a thumb’s width of space between the end of your toddler’s toes and the inside tip of the shoe. “Too big and they could be unstable; too small and it constrains the foot,” says foot and ankle specialist Steven G. Tillett, DPM.
Then, check the fit at the back of the shoe by sticking your pinky finger between your toddler’s heel and the heel of the shoe. You should be able to slip it in up to the first knuckle. “Anything more than that and the shoe is too big, and anything less and it's too tight,” says Tillett.
3. Bring socks. Don’t forget that your child will most likely be wearing socks with her shoes. “In general, you want your child to wear socks with his shoes to prevent chafing,” says Cox. Bring a pair of socks from home that your toddler will most likely wear with the shoes you’re buying. Have her wear these while trying on shoes.
4. Pick the right material. You’re looking for breathable, lightweight material. Shoes made from canvas, cloth and soft leather are best. These allow air to circulate in and out, and are also flexible compared to rubber or plastic shoes. Avoid stiff leather which can hinder foot development. You also want socks with a high natural fiber content to allow the feet to breathe.
5. Check the soles. Try and bend the soles of the shoe to check for flexibility. You want a sole that’s not too soft that it can cause slips and falls. “You want a shoe with a little bit of a sole to minimize accidents,” says Cox. Check the material too. “Usually, a leather or rubber sole will help provide the traction your toddler needs.”
6. Walk around in it. Once you’ve found the right pair and the right fit, have your toddler walk around in his prospective new kicks. Kids’ shoes does not need breaking in so once you’ve removed the shoes, your child’s feet should have no irritated spots.
7. Replace. Since your child’s feet grows in size every two to four months, she would also need a new pair of shoes every so often; Which is why toddlers need to own just up to two shoes at a time says Cox, “a play shoe like a sneaker and possibly a dress-up shoe.”