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Back to School: Choose the right shoes

Posted on Aug 28, 2014 ( comments)
Kids feet
When you’re out shopping for shoes for your school-age children, there are three simple questions to ask yourself:
  • Do they fit properly?
  • Are they well-made?
  • Are they appropriate for school?

Proper fit

Look closely at the shoe’s length, width and depth. A shoe should be long enough for the toes to be comfortable and deep enough that the top of the shoe isn’t pressing on the toes or toenails. Most children have relatively wide feet; shoes with shoelaces can help provide a slightly looser or snugger fit. 

Properly fitting shoes feel good from the start. If they need to be “broken in,” they either don’t fit or they’re not properly designed. Remember that poorly fitting children’s shoes can be painful and cause a wide range of problems, including ingrown toenails, hammertoes, blisters, calluses and bunions. 

Good construction

Shoes consist of four basic parts: the upper, the insole, the outer sole and the heel. 

The upper should be made of leather, canvas or a mesh material. Because children’s feet perspire heavily, make sure it’s made of a breathable material (not plastic) and that the insole is absorbent and comfortable. Most children don’t need special arch support from their insole. 

The outer sole provides cushioning, flexibility and traction, but avoid extra thick and sticky outer soles as they can make it easier for a child to trip.  

Older girls may want heels that are taller than an inch, but bear in mind that a higher heel can cause the foot to slide forward and cramp the toes inside the shoes.

Appropriate for school

Style matters — even to kindergarteners. Fortunately, kids have a wide variety of colors and types of shoes to choose from, including athletic shoes, dressy shoes, hiking boots and sandals. 

Check your child’s school dress code or recommendations, then look for reasonably priced, flexible, well-ventilated shoes that allow room for growth. 

Remember that children can have sudden dramatic growth spurts, and shoes that fit perfectly today can be too small by tomorrow. When that happens, it’s time to shop for shoes again.

If your child has a great deal of trouble finding comfortable, well-fitting shoes, or develops calluses or other problems, talk to your pediatrician.

Related stories
Read more in our online Back-to-School Guide.

Posted in: Kids' Health

About The Author

Dr. Joshua Purses

Joshua Purses, DO, is a MultiCare orthopedics and sports medicine specialist who treats both children and adults. He has offices in Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Olympia.

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