Sometimes, it seems like the clothes fit better in the dressing room mirror than at home. The same can be said for shoes—especially kid’s shoes. When you’re at the store, you’re rushed. Sometimes, your children don’t want to test out how the footwear feels by walking around. Instead of trying to find the proper fit, they end up throwing a fit—which may result in them getting a poorly fitting shoe. Know the best shoes for kids beforehand, so they don’t end up with foot problems down the road.

All You Need is a Good Fit

As far as special shoe modifications go, you don’t need any orthotics or arch supports unless there’s a serious problem where the doctor prescribes a custom insert. To prevent harmful foot conditions, all your kid needs is a properly fitting shoe—and that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Those $150 pair of shoes your child is begging for could have the same amount of cushioning, support, and structure that a $50 pair can provide. Even worse, the expensive shoes could have less of those attributes, which might lead to foot pain.

Shoes for Infants and Toddlers

Best Shoes for ChildrenBefore you start your search for shoes, consider your child’s age. When your child is an infant, they don’t even need shoes—they’re better off with booties to keep their feet warm. Toddlers can roam free in the household with bare feet. Walking without shoes actually helps them develop their arches, sensory perception, and deep muscles within their feet. However, toddlers should wear shoes when they go outside.

Their First Pair

Their first footwear should have a wide width. Your child’s foot might be wide around the arch, so it’s important to accommodate that. Also, make sure they have a low-cut sneaker. The increased range of motion will help them develop ankle stability. Lastly, when you’re buying their first pair of shoes, make sure you allow a finger’s width of space in the toe box. This should keep them usable for about three to six months. Any less space than that, and they’re going to grow out of the gear faster than you can buy them.

Children’s Shoes 101: What to Look For

As your child gets older, make sure you take them shoe shopping. This way, you can measure their foot in the store and teach them how to find a good pair. This eliminates the need to take your child’s shoes back to the store when they don’t fit. When they’re trying things on, make sure you buy shoes that fit the larger foot. You might laugh at this, but in reality feet are rarely the same size. Also, make sure that the new pairs don’t need a “break-in” period. They should fit immediately.

The three main qualities that shoes for kids should possess are: (1) a stiff heel; (2) bendable toe box; and (3) rigid middle. Test for a stiff heel by squeezing both sides of the back of the shoe. They shouldn’t cave in. The toe box should be bendable, but not too much where it completely folds in half. Lastly, make sure the middle of the shoe doesn’t bend or twist in the middle.

Get Them a Foot Exam   

The best way to find good shoes for your kids is to get a recommendation from Dr. Brian McDowell or Dr. Gavin P. Ripp. We recommend that your child receive a foot exam so we can study their foot structure, anticipate any problems that could occur in the future, and advise you on the best shoes to buy.

Finding shoes for kids doesn’t have to be difficult. Get help from highly-trained specialists at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group in Carmichael, CA, by calling (916) 961-3434. Our office, which serves Sacramento, Citrus Heights, and Fair Oaks, can also be found on Twitter and Pinterest!

Photo Credit: Daniel St. Pierre via

Blog Subscribe to our RSS Feed