Kids want to wear what looks good. They’re not concerned if a shoe has enough arch support, a wide enough toe box or is even the correct size for their feet.
As a podiatrist and a parent, I struggle with convincing my kids to wear the best shoe for their particular foot type. Since the weather has warmed up, they have mostly been in flip flops or, I hate to admit, barefoot. Even though I am constantly reminding them to wear their sneakers during activities like bike riding and playing tag, they always seem to end up in flip flops or with their shoes off.
Most recently we were walking on the beach as a family and my daughter started to complain that her feet were hurting. Her arches were so painful that my husband had to carry her back to our chairs.
The next day we headed to a local surf shop to check out their flip flop inventory. My daughter’s feet pronate, meaning that her arches roll inward when she walks. As I expected, most options had flat foot beds with no support. The pair I chose for my daughter to try on had an elevated arch which would give her the support she needs. Being a six year old girl, she automatically went for a pair with gold glittery straps. To her the glitter was more important than the support she needed, and unfortunately this pair did not have any.
I tried convincing her to go with the pair I picked but I could tell by her face that she did not like the way they looked. And if a child doesn’t like the way something looks, they won’t wear it, no matter how comfortable it is. I made her a deal. I told her that I would buy both pairs, but only if she would wear each, and give me her honest opinion as to which pair made her feet happy. After a few days of wearing both, she made the decision on her own to continue wearing the pair that felt best (my choice), not looked best. She has been able to walk pain free and I can only hope that from now on she takes my advice!
If you’ve noticed that your child’s feet do not look stable (for example their arches and or ankles are rolling inward), it is important to have them evaluated by a podiatrist to determine their foot type and specific needs.
In general, here are some things to consider when buying footwear for your kids:
- Measure the length and width of their feet. If their feet are two different sizes, always buy for the larger foot.
- Inspect the shoe for the following:
- Stiff heel counter – Squeeze the heel of the shoe, it should maintain its shape and not collapse.
- Limited torque – When holding the heel of the shoe is one hand and the toe box in the other, gently twist the shoe. There should be some resistance.
- Flex point – When holding the heel of the shoe, push up on the bottom of the toe box. The shoe should bend where the toes naturally do.
- Flip flop foot beds should not be completely flat. They should have a slight elevation of the arch. For kids who aren’t used to wearing shoes or flip flops with arch support, it may take some time to adjust.
- Keep in mind, every shoe brand is made and sized differently. As a rule, when a child is standing in a shoe, there should be a thumb’s width of space between their longest toe and the edge of the shoe.
We are here to help! If you have any questions please give our office a call at 856-599-0133.