Are there certain shoes kids shouldn't wear?
Probably the most important thing to keep in mind when buying shoes for children is to avoid the current "cool" shoes and focus on buying something that's good for their feet. The most trendy kids' shoes right now are flat, thin, rubber-soled shoes, such as most Converse or Vans. These are probably the worst possible shoes for their feet. Children are better off with decent athletic shoes for playing and wearing to school. Both Asics and New Balance have excellent shoes for children. Another decent option for just "walking around", but not playing sports or doing much running, would be Crocs. Crocs are actually a pretty good shoe trend for kids right now!
Choosing the Right Shoes for Children: Factors to Consider Beyond Cost.
Understandably cost is an issue with kids' shoes because they tend to either grow out of them or wear them out very quickly. But the higher quality shoes are going to last longer anyway! A child's age and activity level should play a role in shoe choices. For younger children that are playing around in the dirt, sand, and grass a quality tennis shoe with a leather upper may be the best bet. Shoes that have a more conforming mesh upper are great for school activities and playing on the playground. These will also adapt better to a little bit of growth of the feet.
Understanding Children's Unique Shoe Needs: Versatility and Proper Fit.
It's all the different activities that kids engage in that make their shoe needs different than adults. As adults, we tend to have shoes for work, shoes for exercise, shoes for casual, etc. This is not always practical for children, so we have to make sure the shoes are versatile and, most importantly, fit properly. It's okay to allow a little room for growth, but the shoe should not be so loose that the child's foot is slipping out. And a child should never ever be wearing shoes that are too small as this can impair the development of the foot and cause pain. Especially watch out for children with wide feet as fit tends to be more of an issue. There are some brands out there now making width sizing for children.
Are "Minimalist" or "Barefoot" Shoes Appropriate for Children?
"Minimalist" or "barefoot" shoes are probably fine for toddlers or early school-age children as long as they have a proper tread (outer sole) on the bottom. Their feet are more flexible and adaptable, and these types give the feet the freedom to develop properly. However, once children hit the age of playing more aggressively and/or being involved in organized sports then the more structured shoe types mentioned above are likely better.
When to Seek Professional Help for Your Child's Foot Health
I wouldn't be a good podiatrist if I didn't mention that all of the above may apply differently to children who have more significant structural foot abnormalities or who are actually having foot pain. These may require specific shoe types to address the specific foot condition. Want to learn more about how to keep your child's feet healthy and happy? Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced podiatrists. We'll be happy to answer your questions and provide the expert guidance you need to ensure your child's feet are well cared for.