One of the most common conversations I have with parents is regarding shoes for their child. There are so many choices and the always-challenging balance of cuteness, cost, and functionality. Hopefully this will help you pick the perfect pair of shoes and you can learn WHY your child’s shoes are so important! As always, if you have any questions regarding shoes, ask your therapist!
What your child needs in a shoe will depend on their current skills, activities, and where they are in their physical development- thus this is going to be a two part post. First lets cover babies and toddlers. Next we will cover school aged kids and adaptive footwear.
Babies’ bones, especially those in their feet, have lots of cartilage on the ends of them that have not yet calcified into rigid bone. As children grow, a larger percentage of the cartilage is transformed into bone. This is partially why the recommendation for adults’ shoes is different from that of a children.
Pre- walking shoes:
If your baby is still crawling or just starting pulling to stand, the only purpose of shoes is to keep their feet warm and protected (outside). Shoes should be so flexible that they could be easily crumpled up into the palm of your hand. Check out three of my favorite brands below.
Momobaby, Robeez, Skidders baby booties
Your baby is now walking, hooray, but hold off on shoes for a bit. Stick to the pre-walking shoes for just a little longer! Your child is just figuring out his/her balance. Letting your child feel the floor with his/her feet will help them develop and master their balance. Consider a tight rope walker. They are often bare foot or have “pre-walking” shoes on as they balance their way across a rope. You child is going through the same challenges with their first steps. Your child is likely not walking around the grocery store doing errands with you, and is likely mainly practicing his or her walking skills in the house or the backyard. Pre-walkers will still give them the protection they need while allowing their balance skills to develop. Once your child begins to look steady on their feet, it is time to look for shoes to mainly use outside. Indoor, barefoot continues to be the best choice as it allows the child’s natural arches and muscles in their feet to develop. Toddler shoes should have flat heels and be flexible. You should be able to bend the shoe in half and twist the shoe. The goal of the shoe is to protect their foot, but still allow the foot to be flexible!
These are some of my favorite brands:
Skidders kids shoes, Pediped, Stride Rite, GoPlae
Coming next: Shoes for School-Age Kids and Adaptive Footwear
Dr. Angela Kloiber is a licensed Physical Therapist (and shoe connoisseur) with Aspire Therapy