Buying Shoes for Your Toddler
When toddlers begin walking, it is important to understand how their feet are growing in order to pick the right shoe. Shoes help toddlers gain traction as they practice their walking skills, and shoes protect their feet from foreign objects. Here, we will give you some tips and guidelines to use when shopping for your toddler’s new shoes.
The Type of Shoe
Experts recommend that you fit your toddler with a leather- or rubber-sole shoe to give him enough traction, preventing slips and falls. Because your toddler’s feet are still growing, he needs a shoe that is able to mold to his feet and not restrict his foot too much. Steven G. Tillett, DPM, is a foot and ankle specialist, who says, “Sneakers are good because they generally don't constrain the foot and allow for proper development.”
It is also recommended that toddlers wear closed-toed shoes, as opposed to open-toed shoes. The reasoning is that open-toed shoes do not offer the type of protection your toddler’s feet need.
Dr. Joanne Cox, MD, Associate Chief of general pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Boston, also cautions parents from putting their toddlers in Crocs, or similar shoes, as it is easy for them to trip and fall while wearing them. Cox recommends waiting until your toddler is confident on his feet, usually at age two or older, before putting him in Crocs.
While having your toddler’s feet professionally measured for shoes may seem silly, it is an important thing to ensure her foot fits a shoe properly, while still giving her room to grow. Consider visiting a shoe store specializing in children’s shoes to have your child’s foot measured professionally. You do not have to buy a shoe there, but you will leave with a good idea of the size of your toddler’s shoe.
After you know the right size, bring your toddler with you to try on some shoes. Make sure to bring a pair of socks for your toddler to wear while trying on shoes, as socks are recommended to prevent chafing.
Your child should have a centimeter to half-inch between the end of her toes and the front of the shoe. You should be able to slip your pinky finger, up to the first knuckle, between the back of the shoe and your toddler’s heel. The tongue of the shoe should be parallel to the edges, where the laces or Velcro is located.
You do not have to spend “an arm and a leg” on shoes for your toddler; it can be expensive to replace your toddler’s shoes every few months and it is okay to buy a cheaper shoe, as long as it fits correctly.
One caution Dr. Cox gives parents is that it is far better to buy a new shoe than to shop at consignment stores or give your toddler hand-me-down shoes. Cox says, “Kids' shoes mold to their feet. If you use a hand-me-down pair of shoes, you are forcing your child's foot into a shoe that has already molded to the shape of someone else's foot, which means your toddler could end up with blisters.”
Some Final Tips
Shoes for an adult are often chosen for their fashion, not so much for function. With toddlers, it is important to choose shoes that have good function, even if they are not the most fashionable. You will also be purchasing shoes for your toddler every two to four months, so consider purchasing only one or two pairs of shoes at a time.
In the end, the best judge of how well a toddler’s shoe fits is the toddler wearing them! Make sure you let your toddler walk around, before buying the shoes, and listen to hear if you little one has any complaints. If there are no complaints, you may have just found your toddler the perfect pair!