How To Choose the Right Shoes for Your Child

Learn how to determine the most comfortable shoes for your child, and also how to tell if the shoes he wears are appropriate.

Most babies are born with perfect feet, but most adults suffer from foot problems mainly caused by bad fitting shoes during childhood. Your children's foot health is in your hands. With good care and regular measuring your child should be able to walk through life with out any problems.

Your baby will not need to wear shoes until she starts walking about outside. Until then, barefoot is best as it helps to strengthen the muscles of tiny feet and toes. But make sure that she does not walk where there is risk of injury or infection.Once your child is venturing out, she is ready for her first pair of shoes, and you are ready for the first of many trips to the shoe shop.

Because the cartilage in babies' is soft and pliable, it can easily be damaged by shoes that are too tight or too small. The nerve endings of small feet are not that well developed, so a child can not feel discomfort from ill fitting shoes, and the soft bones can quite easily become deformed.

You child will outgrow her shoes rapidly and should go through about two sizes a year until she is four. After that you will be buying a new pair every year until the end of their teenage years, feet do not stop growing until then.

Feet do not grow steadily but in spurts, so it is a good idea to check regularly for a comfortable fit. Sometimes a new pair is needed before your regular trip to the shoe shop at the start of a new semester.

Children usually enjoy measuring their own feet and shoes. Do this about once a month and chart their height at the same time. Here are some tests to perform to ascertain whether a shoe is of a comfortable length.

Get your child to stand barefoot on a sheet of cardboard. Draw an outline around each foot, the place your child's shoes on this and then draw around the shoes. Cut out the shapes and superimpose each foot on its shoe. The foot prints should be at least half an inch smaller than the shoe prints.

Another test involves taking two thin strips of cardboard about an inch wide and ask your child to stand on them barefoot. Mark the longest toe; it may not necessarily be the big toe, and the back of the heel. Mark the strips left and right. Trim the strips at the marks and slip each into corresponding shoes, so that one end touches the toe of the shoe. If the shoe is the correct size, there should be a gap of at least half an inch between the end of the shoe and the heel. If the space is less than this, or the cardboard touches the heel, or does not lie flat, the shoe is too short.

The last test involves using talcum powder; put a teaspoon of it in the top part of the shoe where the toes rest. Tap the shoe gently so that the powder spreads across the toe area. Carefully put the shoe on your child, making sure that the foot is positioned comfortably without sliding forwards. Fasten the shoe and allow the child to walk around the room. Remove the shoe carefully and look inside to see where the toes have left a print in the talcum powder. If there is at least half an inch of undisturbed talc at the top of the toe area, there is enough room.

These tests will reassure that your child's shoes still fit, or warn you if they do not. But they will not indicate whether the width of the shoe is correct. If the shoe is tight at the thickest part of the foot, it may be pressed back, even though there seems to be more room at the front of the shoe.

If you detect any problems, for example, a shoe is difficult to get on and off, your child should have both feet measured by a fitter.

Perfectly fitting shoes should have enough length, so that the toes are not pushed backwards inside the toe box. It should have enough depth, so that the uppers do not press on the toes as they clench during walking. The width should be just right, so that the toes are not pushed into a pointed shape. The shoe must have a straight inner border to match the line of the foot and the straightness of the big toe and also firm support across the instep, fastening with either T-bar buckles or Velcro, not slip-ons.