Just like pencils, notebooks and protractors, shoes will make the list of must-haves this back to school shopping season. But parents may not know how to fit children’s shoes properly, leaving their kids susceptible to foot discomfort.
Jerry Slover, director of fit excellence for The Athlete’s Foot, suggests that proper fit should be at the top of the list for athletic footwear needs.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems. It’s neglect and a lack of awareness of proper care – including ill-fitting shoes – that bring on many foot ailments.
Slover offers the following shoe shopping tips for parents to consider before hitting the stores this back-to-school season.
1. Fit After Exercise
The best time to shop for new shoes is after a workout, playtime or at the end of the day when the foot tends to swell. Trying on a new shoe while the foot is swollen will ensure the best fit for when your child will need shoes to fit the best – during physical activity.
2. Try on Both
New pants are never purchased after trying on only one leg. The same rule should apply to shoes. Have your child try on both shoes and walk around in them to ensure comfort. The shoe should fit so that the heel does not slide up and down. Also, since one foot is usually longer than the other, be sure to fit the shoe to the larger foot.
3. No Growing Into It
Many parents buy shoes for their children that are a size or two larger than the proper measure, thinking that kids will grow into them. But it is unlikely that a child’s foot will grow to fit the shoes before wearing the shoes out.
Too large a shoe can lead to slips, trips or falls, and can be just as bad as wearing too small a shoe.
4. Thumb It
When fitting your child’s foot, determine how much toe room they should have in the shoe by leaving space that is about one-half inch (or a thumb’s width) between the tip of the longest toe and the end of the shoe while they are standing.
Also, the child should be able to comfortably wiggle his or her toes in the shoe. Keep in mind that the longest toe isn’t always the big toe.
5. Wear Them Right Away
Having to break-in a pair of shoes is a myth. Your child’s shoes should be comfortable the first time they try them on.
6. Don’t Pass Them Down
Children wear shoes differently. Although the size of the shoe may be the same, the way the shoe molds to the child’s foot will vary. While hand-me-downs save money, you could pass along fitting problems with the shoes.
7. Watch Their Feet
Check your child’s foot for red marks that can be caused by shoes that are too tight. Also, to ensure the right fit and support, examine their shoes for wear and tear on a regular basis. For example, if toe pressure marks are at the edge of the insole, or you can only count four toe marks, it’s time for new shoes.
8. They Keep Growing and Growing
Ask to have your child’s feet measured each time you buy new shoes to ensure proper fit.