Step up: Finding the perfect fitting school shoes for your child
Shopping for school shoes for your child is often no easy task. So, what are some important things to look out for?
So it’s safe to say that a proper fitting pair of school shoes is one of the most important items of clothing you can buy for your children.
Here are some important things to consider when shopping for new school shoes this year.
So the wrong shoes can potentially impede correct growth, crowding the toes and causing pain in the legs and feet.
On the flip side, podiatrist David Bugg of Sydney City Podiatry says, “Stability provided by footwear is the best first-line intervention you can make for reducing the risk of some common growing-based foot and leg pains.”
Finding the right shoe shop
Once you’ve found an outlet you trust, try and go shopping in the late afternoon, as feet tend to swell slightly over the course of the day.
What’s a good fit?
A well-fitting shoe will be long enough to allow an index finger’s width between the largest toe and the end of the shoe. The forefoot area will be wide enough to fit with no pressure points and the heel area should be narrow enough to fit snugly, so your child’s foot isn’t slipping out of the back.
“A firm heel counter – the area that runs around the heel of the shoe – is a very important consideration,” says Bugg. “It should be as firm as possible and hard to push in, helping to provide stability and support for the child.”
The Australian Podiatry Association advises doing a size check at least every one to three months up to the age of three, every four months up to the age of five, and every six months from five years. Also check for uneven shoe wear, as this should prompt a trip to the podiatrist to check how your child is walking.
Is there an ideal style?
“Laces are best and will help reduce any heel slippage for those children with very narrow heels,” explains Bugg. “Next best is Velcro, then the Mary-Jane style as they are open across much of the top of the foot and fixed with one band. This can be particularly important if a child has a tendency towards a flatter foot or foot/leg aches and pains.” Slip-on shoes are a flat-out no.
Sneaker-style shoes are a popular alternative, but consider the material: leather is the best option, as it breathes and wears better, but sports shoes are often made with synthetic materials. Also, consider longevity: sneaker styles are often designed only for occasional wear – like sports days – meaning they may not last a whole term.
Finally, if your precocious princess is requesting school shoes with a bit of heel, stand firm. “They can lead to tightening of the calf muscles and the internal structure of the arch of the feet,” warns Bugg. “They’re also less stable and can create problems when the child moves to lower or flat footwear at other times.”
So, as you head off to the shops, remember the basics. Go shopping in the afternoon as feet tend to swell as the day goes on. Find a good store that will measure your child’s feet properly and don’t be tempted to go up a size with the idea that they’ll grow into their shoes. Lace-ups are best, followed by Velcro, then Mary-Janes, while slip-ons are a no-no and leather is preferable to synthetic materials. Happy shopping!