What to look for when buying children’s shoes
Not all shoes are the same.
Whether your little one is taking their first steps, needing their first pair of school shoes, or simply have outgrown their old shoes, it can seem a little overwhelming trying to make sure you’ve got them the right shoes for their little feet.
Especially as not all shoes will provide the right amount of support and comfort for your child’s growing feet. There are some very important things that supportive pair of kids’ shoes should possess.
A little about growing feet.
First of all, it’s important to understand how children’s feet develop to then understand why children’s shoes are different from adults. A baby is born with only 22 bones in their feet, whereas adults have 26. The four remaining bones will slowly develop as feet grow to their full length.
The development stage of their feet will also determine what type of shoe they require. When they’re taking those first tentative steps, you’ll notice that they will have a more rounded foot, as they haven’t begun to strengthen the muscles for balancing. As their foot continues to grow and they continue to walk, run and jump, their heel will become less rounded, and they’ll develop a more defined arch. These are all important factors to assess in order to choose the right shoe for them.
Now, children’s shoes should have four primary characteristics to help let their feet develop healthily and naturally; Flexibility, Support, Fit and Quality.
Quality & Durability:
The quality of a children's shoe will make all the difference. Buying one quality pair will always be more beneficial for your children's foot health, than buying multiple low-quality pairs which are not supportive and very often can fall apart before your child has grown out of them.
Leather is the most highly recommended material for children's shoes due to the breathability and flexibility that it offers. If you're looking for something more affordable, canvas is an alternative that will still allow feet to breathe.
Flexibility (the bend test):
Flexibility is paramount in children's shoes because their feet are still growing. They need to be able to mould to the foot's natural movements without inhibiting them. They need to be flexible for walking, but thick enough to protect; and with enough traction to prevent slipping.
Support & Structure:
Although barefoot is still the best for developing feet, itis not practical in the urban environments we live in.
As mentioned previously, children will naturally develop an arch as their feet muscles strengthen. This means they do not require arch support. This also means it is quite common for children to have quite 'flat feet' in their first few years of walking.
The support that their little feet do need in a shoe is through heel and ankle support. An enclosed heel on a children's shoe should be firm (not ridged) enough that when squeezed together, the sides shouldn't meet.
As their little feet are typically more rounded and wider, so should their shoes. Choosing a style which has a rounded and wider front to allow the shoes toes space will ensure that their feet are not cramped.
Getting the right fit:
Their little feet can grow and change very often, so we recommend checking their shoes still fit every couple of months.
Allowing an adult thumb width in front of your child's big toe will provide them with a healthy amount of growing room without causing them to trip over their shoes. A well fitted shoe should allow your child to feel as though they have no shoes on at all. Children' shouldn't have to 'break' in their shoes.
Our aim at Little Treads it to help little feet, be happy and healthy feet for life. We have curated our range of brands which we feel reflect some of the best options to ensure happy little feet.
Bobux footwear is endorsed by podiatrists and no wonder – this New Zealand based brand is passionate about healthy foot development. But it doesn’t sacrifice style for practicality. Quite the opposite in fact. These are, hands down, some of the most stylish kids' shoes we have found and we're a bit jealous that they don't do a range for adults. The brand has been around since 1991 and their founders designed the world's first all-leather soft sole shoe for their daughter.
They boast five ranges:
- Soft Soles: for babies who are crawling
- Xplorers: for pre-walkers cruising and pulling themselves up
- Step Up: for first-walkers taking ten steps or more independently.
- Iwalk: for confident walkers
- Kid+: for children who are taking on running, jumping and skipping.
PLAE shoes have been specifically engineered for little feet. More than just style came into consideration when designing these very cool kicks. PLAE uses biometric science generally reserved for elite athletes to craft a show that protects the natural development of children's feet and features one-of-a-kind interchangeable tabs (straps), allowing kids to express themselves by personalising their shoes. Kids put their shoes to the test. PLAE is ready for them - machine washable, removeable insoles, active traction, breathable, flexible, lightweight and built for premium quality materials.
And for the big kids we have Birkenstock. They have become world reknowned due to their contoured foot beds which provide great support keeping the foot and leg correctly aligned. A Birkenstock sandal may be an appropriate sandal option for certain foot types.
Be sure to look through the Little Treads website for our full range of products www.littletreads.com.au