How to choose the right shoe!

How to choose the right shoe!

Often times I get asked the question what shoes should I buy for my child? There are a couple of different factors that go into buying the proper shoe for your child. According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, the 3 things you should look for in a shoe is how they fit, how they are made,  and if they are appropriate for your child.


The fit of the shoe is a very important aspect because a poorly fitting shoe can cause toe problems such as an ingrown toe nail, hammer toe, calluses, and more. Children’s feet grow in spurts and often require new shoes every 3-4 months. When standing there should be 1.25 cm (about 0.5 inches) between the longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Shoes should be comfortable from the start and not need to be “broken in.” If your child’s shoes needs a break in period, chances are they are not properly fitted for your child’s foot.


The construction of the shoe is also very important when deciding an appropriate shoe. Below is a 3 step diagram from the American Podiatric Medical Association on how to properly test the durability and integrity of a shoe.


What shoes are appropriate for what ages? For babies and crawlers, bare foot is the way to go. Toddler’s shoes should be breathable, lightweight, and preferably high top because they stay on the foot better and are harder to kick off. Shoes with laces are recommended for children with wide feet because they allow the shoe to be stretched wider than Velcro shoes. The sole of the shoe should be smooth in order to help prevent too much grip which can cause your child to fall. For older kids the proper shoe needs to be based on the activity.


Different types of shoes are made for different activities because they provide extra or less support based on the desired activity. For older kids being properly fitted for shoes is important because much like clothing shoe sizes can vary from brand to brand. The best shoes support your foot, front and back. Backless shoes actually alter the way you walk, and that can cause foot injuries and discomfort down the line. You don’t have to give up your flip-flops you just shouldn’t wear them all the time. Look for shoes that are stiff in the middle, but bend at the ball of the foot.


For more information on proper footwear check out these links below:'s-shoes.aspx


-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

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