If the Shoe Fits, Wear it… Especially for Kids Shoes!

“If the shoe fits, wear it” really applies to all of us. But when it comes to your kids’ shoes, thinking you should get them shoes that they will “grow into” can be a terrible mistake.

So, here is a new adage for you: “If your kid’s shoe doesn’t fit, don’t let them wear it.”

Long-term foot problems can start young

A study conducted by the National Health Institute showed that almost 30% of children had foot deformities, such as hallux valgus (more commonly known as a bunion). Such deformities are often caused or exacerbated by poorly fitting footwear.

Children foot care, properly fitted shoes

65% of children are wearing the wrong shoe size

A related study, involving more than 2,100 parents, revealed that 65% of all children are wearing the wrong shoe size: 47% of the children studied were wearing shoes one size too small, 18% of the youngsters had their feet jammed into shoes that were two sizes too small.

In fact, 52% of the 2,109 parents surveyed had never actually measured the length of their children’s feet before being involved in the study. They had instead relied on “hands-on” and visual measurements.

Many foot problems suffered by adults can be traced back to ill-fitting shoes, thoughtlessly forced onto young feet.

Loving and well-meaning parents tend to use the same shoe-buying techniques their parents practiced.

7 assumptions that’ll make you get the wrong size kid shoes almost every time!

1. Holding the sole of a new shoe against the sole of a child’s foot. If the new shoe looks to be slightly larger than the child’s foot, it’s probably going to be a decent fit, right?

Nope, because the inside of a shoe is often significantly smaller than its external appearance.

2. Putting a pair of shoes on the child’s feet and then squeezing the end. If there seems to be significant room between the child’s toes and the forward end of the shoe, they’ll fit comfortably, right?

Wrong! That is because a child’s natural reflexive action is to curl up their toes, to helpfully make room for the parent’s squeeze.

3. Asking a child how the shoe feels when the child doesn’t know how a good fitting shoe is supposed to feel.

children foot conditions, University Foot and Ankle Insitute

4. Assuming the size marked on the box (or advertised online) accurately conforms to the size of the shoes in the box (or delivered from a website).

5. Shoe shopping early in the day. This practice ignores the fact that human feet, including children’s feet, swell significantly as the day and its activities progress.

6. Assuming your children’s feet are each identical to the other. People’s feet can vary significantly. The variance can occur in length, width, and/or thickness.

7. Assuming that sizes are identical among brands. As it turns out, there are significant variations, both among domestic shoe manufacturers and between shoes from foreign shoemakers.

A Swiss study presented at an annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons showed that 90% of the shoes sold to 248 randomly chosen children were significantly smaller than the advertised size.

Too small shoes cause the most foot problems for kids’ feet

Most foot problems caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes as a child are the consequence of footwear that is too small. In addition to hallux valgus, these problems caused or exacerbated by too small shoes include:

Shoes that are too big can cause real problems

Parents should avoid buying too-small shoes. But they should also be wary of buying their children’s shoes that are too big. It’s tempting to save money by purchasing shoes with lots of room to grow into. But that can be a false economy.

Shoes that are too big can make dangerous and unnecessary falls an all too common experience. Shoes that are too large can also cause children to overuse their foot muscles in their attempts to maintain stability.

So go for a shoe fitting with your children in the afternoon. Take them to a reputable shoe store, where a trained sales force will perform precisely accurate measurements of their feet. Both feet. If your child’s feet are of different sizes, make sure that the shoes that you purchase accommodate this variation.

Kids’ shoes need a little wiggle room for their toes

Make sure that the distance between your child’s longest toe (not necessarily the big toe) and the shoe’s end is between 10 to 12 millimeters, about half an inch. 

Why choose University Foot and Ankle Institute for your family’s foot health?

If you’re experiencing problems with foot pain or any other foot issues, we’re here to help. Our nationally recognized foot and ankle specialists offer the most advanced podiatry care and the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in the research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions for both children and adults.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or make an appointment online now.

University Foot and Ankle Institute is conveniently located throughout Southern California with podiatry clinics in (or near) Santa Monica (on Wilshire Blvd.), Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, and the San Fernando Valley, Manhattan Beach, and the South Bay, LAX, Westlake Village, Valencia, Santa Clarita, and Santa Barbara.


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