By the time children are two years old, they have reached about half of their adult height.
This is an exciting time when toddlers reach milestones such as walking across the room and speaking in simple sentences. In just a few short months, tots go from being helpless infants to blossoming little people with fantastic personalities.
For most parents, this is the time to invest in their child's first pair of shoes. Built for comfort and style, there is no shortage of toddler shoes to choose from.
How do you select the right pair for your mini-walker? Here are some thoughts.
1. Measured Approach
Toddler footwear is made for walking, climbing, jumping, and learning new skills. Poorly fitting shoes can lead to slips and falls that will cause ankle damage.
Younger children's feet grow at astounding rates and need to be remeasured every 2-3 months. Since their sizes are always changing, it is wise to buy one comfortable pair of shoes at a time. Some parents also like to purchase a dress-up shoe.
Make sure that your child's toes are not curled in when you measure them. They should also be wearing socks.
Children's feet will grow by around 1.5 millimetres each month. You can download a shoe-sizing chart from your electronic device.
Use your thumb to measure the amount of space between your child's big toe and the toe of the shoe. There should be about one centimetre of difference.
If your child's shoe is too big, it will be unstable and your toddler will slip out of it. If it is too small, it will constrain the foot.
Check the tongue of your shoe, and make sure that it is parallel to the line where the laces or Velcro starts. If there is too much space between them, the shoe could be tight and put a strain on your child's Achilles tendon. If they overlap too much, the shoe could be loose and your tot may easily lose her balance.
Use your pinky to check the fit of your child's heel. It should fit inside only up to the first knuckle.
Your child's shoe should not be either too tight or too loose around the arch. Use the tongue of the shoe as a guide to check this. Be sure that the flex point is in the right place.
2. Room For Growth
If your child has one foot that is bigger than the other, aim for the larger size. As always, it is still important to be certain that your child's shoes are not too big, so that they will not be prone to accidents.
Your child's feet will tend to be wider when they are younger. As they get older, the length will catch up with the width. Your child's shoe should accommodate a wider arch.
The bones in toddler's feet are still very soft. Badly-fitting shoes can advance abnormalities such as flat feet. Be sure that the toe box in your child's shoe is round and square so that her feet won't be squished together.
Your child's shoe should flex right at the ball of the foot. The heel counter should hold their foot upright. A neatly laced-up or Velcro shoe will ensure a snug fit.
Closed-toe shoes are better for children just learning to walk. Hold off on open-toed shoes until children are about two years old.
Once children learn to walk, switch to a rubber-soled shoe that will help them grip when they run. Sneakers will mould to the shape of your child's foot and allow for proper development.
3. Material Matters
Some trendy shoes, such as clogs, pointy boots, or flip-flops, are not the best fit for toddlers who are just learning to walk. Shoes with sliding bottoms can force tots to "grip" the ground with their toes, leading to back and knee pain.
Opt instead for comfy options such as moccasins or sneakers. They are good for gait development and provide excellent protection. Anything too stiff can weaken foot muscles, causing more stumbling and less endurance.
If you must buy a pair of fancy shoes for a special occasion, try to limit their wear to a few hours.
For everyday shoes, the material should be porous and flexible, allowing air to circulate. You should be able to bend them without much effort. Avoid footwear with deep grooves, as these could easily catch on a rug or sidewalk.
In general, higher-end shoes will be made of materials that are of superior quality. The manufacturers know the science of children's feet so they can create a supportive shoe.
Be sure to look for a flexible sole, as these shoes will help children to run, jump, and learn. Remember that most children have flat feet until they are about four years old and the arcs of their feet are fully formed.
4. Don't Hand Me Down
Keep in mind that hand-me-down shoes are not the wisest choice for toddlers. Another child's feet will have formed an arc that could give your child blisters.
Only use hand-me-downs if they are barely used, or if they are special occasion shoes that have not been worn much.
When looking for a new pair, bring your child along so she will be more eager to put them on when she has to.
Choosing Toddler Shoes
Toddler shoes are an important investment. They will teach your child how to walk, run, and explore the world they are just starting to move around in.
For more information, contact us today.