Be a Savvy Shopper and Know What to Look for in Your Childs New Shoes

Tips and advice for choosing and fitting children's shoes.

With the new school year rapidly approaching it's time to start preparing your children for the back to school bedlam; the pitter patter of tiny feet will be filling the aisles of shoe stores everywhere as parents get ready to buy new school shoes.

I can't stress the importance of having your child's feet properly measured enough. Wearing ill fitting shoes during childhood can lead to serious problems in later life such as bunions and hammer toes. Up to 70% of foot problems in adults are as a result of ill- fitting shoes worn as a child.

Your child may tell you that their shoes feel to small, however this may not necessarily be the case and it is important to be able to recognize the signs that their shoes are too small or that they do not fit properly. Check your child's feet on a regular basis and look out for blisters, redness, changes in the nails and cracks between the toes. These should be brought to the attention of your pediatrician or podiatrist.

It is also worth taking a look at your child's shoes. Excessive wearing on the on the sides of the sole or bulging can be an indication that the shoes are not wide enough and toes that curl upwards are a tell- tale sign that shoes are too big.

Good shoe buying habits are essential and they start with having your child's feet measured at regular intervals. For children under the age of ten this should be done around every 3 months and older children can wait four to five months between measurements. This does not necessarily mean that you will have to buy shoes after each measuring; it is simply to make sure that the shoes do not get too small before you realize it. A reputable shoe store will advise you whether new shoes are necessary or not.

It is best to have feet measured by a professional but if this is not an option a measuring guide can be downloaded from the Piperlime website.

Your child should stand to have his or her feet measured and both feet should be measured. One foot is generally larger than the other and so shoes should be bought to fit the larger of the two. It is also a good idea to wear socks or stockings will normally be worn.

-Firstly the width should be measured then the length. This is to make sure that the child is not curling their toes up therefore giving an inaccurate length measurement.

-Be sure to try a variety of styles as each will fit slightly differently. It is important to feel the fit of the shoe. There should be space of at least a ½ inch (1cm) between the tips of the toes and the front of the shoe. Although it may be tempting at this point to try shoes which are a size or two bigger, don't! This can damage the feet, cause children to trip, and it is more than likely that the shoes will be worn out before your child grows into them.

-Watch your child as they walk in the shoes. Make sure that the soles flex in with the soles of the feet and that the heel is well fitting- not too tight or too loose.

-The shoes should not need to be "broken in" they should be comfortable and ready to wear from the first steps. If the shoes are not flexible and comfortable, look for another style.

-Discount retailers such as T.J. Maxx, Target and Marshalls have good selection of well priced and even pairs of name- brand shoes and can be a good source for finding shoes that may not get much wear, such as for a special occasion. The selections may be limited and narrow and wide fittings may not be available. You may find it helpful to go down a ½ size if there are no narrow styles and conversely up a ½ size if there are no wide styles to choose from.

A few tips for selecting styles.

Breathable fabrics are always best, e.g. leather or canvas. They are not only more durable but they also air to circulate around the feet and prevent excessive sweating and blisters.

More adult styles like heels, and slip- on shoes should be avoided. Kids find them difficult to walk in and interfere with foot development.

The shoe sole should be substantial enough that the foot is well protected but at the same time it must also be flexible. You should also keep and eye out for patterned or textured sole as these will help to make sure that your child does not slip on slippery surfaces.

Lastly (making sure all of your bases are covered) give your child the opportunity to have their say on which styles they prefer in this way making it a pleasant experience for all.