Now that the kids have been back in school for a while, you may find that those brand-new shoes you bought this summer just aren’t fitting anymore. Maybe all that trick-or-treating wore through their soles. Or perhaps you just want your little ones to have a nice new pair of shoes for the holidays (which are right around the corner, in case you haven’t noticed.) What do all of these factors add up to? It’s very likely that you’ll soon be heading out in search of a new pair (or pairs) of children’s shoes.

Tips for Better Shoe Shopping With Kids Smart shopping will help ensure your child finds the perfect-fitting pair of shoes

Want to know how to ensure the shoes you pick will fit properly and offer your child’s growing foot enough support during the many varied activities they engage in during the school day?

Here are a few handy tips from your Elmhurst podiatrists:

* Always purchase new shoes. Hand-me-downs or used shoes (even if they were barely worn) have already formed to another child’s feet. There’s just no way they will be able to give your child the proper fit.

* Before you put a shoe anywhere near your child’s foot, make sure it has the following features:

·        Stiff heels: To determine if a pair of shoes is stiff enough, press on both sides of the heel; if it collapses, look for a different pair.

·        Flexible toes: Bend the shoe with your hands. If it has a little give, then you know that it will allow your busy child’s toes the right amount of wiggle room.

·        Rigid middles: Try to twist the shoe. If it twists along the middle, put it down and try a different pair. While you want your kids toes to have movement, a good pair of shoes should provide fairly steady arch support in the middle foot.

* Get measured: have a professional in the store measure both of your child’s feet. If one foot is larger than the other, you should always size to the larger foot. You should also shop later in the day, when feet are at their largest as a result of natural swelling that occurs throughout the day.

* Be smart about socks: When shoe shopping, have your child wear the type of sock he or she is most likely to wear with the new shoes—in other words, don’t put your daughter in nylons when you’re buying sneakers. If you put her in the sweat socks that will usually be paired with these shoes, you’re more likely to ensure a good fit at every wearing.

* Go for immediate comfort: your child’s feet should feel good in new shoes right away. A breaking-in period is a myth that you should forget about. 

Now, all of these tips are just fine when you’re dealing with a typical child’s foot. But what happens if your child’s feet are a little bit harder to fit? Read on for further guidance!

Shoe Shopping Help for Kids with Wide Feet  It can be harder to fit flat or wide-footed kids with shoes--but we can help!

Do you have trouble fitting your child’s foot into shoes? Have you found that the size suggested for his foot length still hurts his feet? Chances are, your youngster may have wide feet.

If you suspect that may be the case, or you’ve already been told that your child has wide feet, don’t worry: finding appropriate shoes is possible (and not as difficult as it may seem right now!)

While many brick and mortar shoe stores don’t carry wide sizes among their kids’ offerings, online purveyors like the Healthy Feet Store offer wide selections for boys and girls. Zappos also allows you to search by shoe size and width, and offers a range of wide-sized kids’ shoes in brands like New Balance, Stride Rite, Saucony and Plae (as a side note, Plae is a favorite brand for children who have been told to wear orthotics. By simply slipping out the shoe’s provided insole, most styles of Plae shoes will have enough width and depth to allow room for your child’s orthotic device!) 

Here’s what you shouldn’t do if your child has wide feet:

  • Don’t bump him or her up to the next size of shoe. Why are larger shoes so problematic for kids? Even though their feet need more width, the added length of a larger size will leave your children sliding in their shoes. They may grip their toes to keep shoes in place, their arch may not hit the most supportive part of the shoe, and their feet may slide around in and against the shoe, even with toe gripping. As a result, kids in too-large shoes may experience a whole slew of foot problems, including blisters, calluses, heel and arch pain, and even hammertoes.
  • Don’t assume that your child will always have wide feet. Continue to have his or her feet measured every six months, since wide feet may narrow as your child grows up. In fact, wide feet are often indicative of a low or collapsed arch, so adding orthotics to your child’s shoes may help eliminate the problem of fitting wider feet.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of socks. A wide-sized child’s shoe typically offers an extra ½ inch or so of width. If your child is still experiencing discomfort in wide-sized shoes, consider switching their socks out for thinner pairs. This simple change could make a world of difference in terms of comfort.

Well-fitted shoes are of utmost importance for children’s developing feet, and the number one rule to keep in mind when selecting footwear is that your kids’ feet should never hurt! If your child is experiencing any kind of foot pain, schedule an appointment at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle today for a comprehensive foot exam. Foot pain is NOT a normal part of growing up!