If The Shoe Fits, Part I: Is It Time For New Shoes For My Kiddo?
Just as soon as kids start with the whole walking thing, suddenly they’re running, riding bikes, and sliding into first base. And active, busy kids require properly fitting footwear for all that action. It’s just a fact. Foot specialists agree that properly fitting shoes are super important to ensure that kids’ delicate feet grow correctly and don’t adapt to uncomfortable, poorly fitting footwear. But how do you know if your kid’s shoes don’t fit right? Check out our tips below on all things little feet.
How the heck do I even know if my kid needs new shoes?
Just like the plants in your garden, tiny feet need the right conditions in order to grow unrestricted. Correctly fitting shoes allow the little bones and muscles in kids’ feet to develop the way they should, not conform to the shape of the shoe, possibly causing problems later on down the road. But sometimes it’s hard to tell if your kid is in need of a new pair of shoes or not. Luckily, science (and a good dose of patience) can help out with this one.
1. Measure, measure, measure
Little feet grow fast and based on growth patterns, it’s a good idea to measure at least every two months during your child's first year, and every three months from 1 to 8 years old. It seems like a lot, but remember, you are dealing with a “new” foot here! Infants especially have barely formed feet that are just starting out in physical development. If you notice that your kiddo’s foot is bigger than the last time you measured . . . chances are, it’s time for a new pair.
Pro tip: Can’t get your kid to hold still in order to measure their tootsies? Try the Foot Game (kids love games right!?). First, have your kiddo stand on a sheet of paper and trace their foot. Doing the tracing while the child is standing ensures an accurate measurement of the foot in the most outstretched position. Also, it’s important to measure both feet since they tend to be slightly different (and they can change over time! Their larger foot last year could be their smaller foot this year). Measure their little foot shapes and use these measurements to determine their correct shoe size. If your kiddo has two different size feet, always go with the bigger one.
2. Write it all down
It’s a good idea to keep a record of growth so that you know when kids’ feet are close to outgrowing their shoes. Plus, it’s fun to look back on the list later. Remember that year your youngest grew like a bean sprout!?
You may have heard of putting a thumb on the toe of the shoe to determine the correct size. Don’t trust your thumb. Try your index finger instead.
3. Remember to give ‘em a little space
Always be mindful of growing room. Translation? The amount of space between your kiddos tiny toes and the shoe toe. Ideally, you’re looking for 10mm of growing room for pre-walkers and 14mm for older children.
Did you know? You may have heard of putting a thumb on the toe of the shoe to determine the correct size, but typically (depending on the size of your hand) 10-14mm is smaller than the average adult thumb size. A good rule of thumb? Don’t trust your thumb. Try your index finger instead.
4. Listen and look
Aside from measuring (which can’t always keep up with the surprise growth spurt), there are a few other ways you can tell if your kids’ shoes aren’t fitting correctly:
Too small? If your kid is constantly taking off their shoes, it could mean that their shoes are uncomfortable. If your little one puts up a fight every time you ask them to wear a certain pair of shoes, if they complain about playing, or you see blisters or red spots on their feet, it could mean that they are wearing shoes that are too small. If kids have other physical pain, too (knee, hip, or back pain) remember that it's all connected. It could be a good time to look at their footwear.
Too big? Although the common footwear issue for kids is outgrowing their shoes, wearing shoes they’re not quite ready for is another thing to keep an eye on. If your little one seems to be tripping a lot or dragging their feet (not intentionally like when you announce its time to leave the birthday party) chances are good that their shoes are a tad on the big side. Or is that a blister you spot? Yup, blisters can also appear when a shoe is too big. (Basically, blisters are a tell-tale sign that something just isn’t right.)
Think it might be time for a new pair of shoes for your kid? Check out Part II of this series to learn more about how to determine the correct size shoes for their growing feet.