Image of adult putting a shoe on a child

First Shoes: Choosing the Right Pair for Your Child

Parenting is full of wonderful moments, but it can also include a fair share of frustrations. One of those frustrations can be finding the right shoes for your toddler. However, you can follow some simple rules to make your child’s journey to walking a better experience.

Toddlers should be encouraged to walk in shoes to help them with stability and it is essential that their first pair of shoes are purchased at a store where they can be fitted for the correct size. If you are unable to have someone in the store help you – as a quick guide – the end of the shoe should be the width of your child’s thumb (not your thumb) away from their longest toe. Keep in mind, their longest toe may be the second toe and not their “big” one.

Only about 20 percent of toddlers fit into shoes with regular width – most require a wide shoe that is greater than a “D.” Many parents opt for longer shoes to accommodate the size of the foot, however these are more likely to cause your toddler to be clumsy when walking. Have your child walk for you and watch their heels. If they pop out, they are too big.

Keep in mind that your toddler grows very quickly and you may need to change shoes every three or four months. If your child’s heels show signs of blisters, the shoes are likely too small.

It is easy to get sidetracked by trendy shoes, but parent should stick to basic functionality and design. Sometimes you will have to let the toddler pick out a favorite style just to get them to wear their shoes, but studies show that sneakers are three times more likely to cause falls on tile floors and five times more likely to cause falls on rugged floors than just general shoes.

Socks are an important part of sizing and should be worn every day. Your child’s feet can sweat a lot, so be mindful of the material the shoes contain. If you notice that your child’s feet are wet or have mild odor, try swapping the shoes for something with a different material.

Nobody ever said that shoe sizing and learning to walk is easy for parents or children! If you have difficulty, rely on the fitting professionals in the stores and for more challenging cases, you may need to consult a medical professional.

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Lee Hlad, DPM
Lee M. Hlad, DPM is a fellowship trained foot & ankle surgeon in private practice in Columbus Ohio. He completed his undergraduate degree at Mount St. Mary college in New York and then attended Podiatry school at the New York college of Podiatric Medicine in New York city. He then went on to attend residency at Grant Medical Center in Columbus and then completed a pediatric orthopedic fellowship in limb lengthening and deformity correction at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore MD. He is the only podiatrist in central Ohio with privileges at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He actively is involved with residency programs of Grant Medical Center and The Ohio State university. He specializes in foot and ankle issues in both adults and children. He resides in Westerville with his wife, three children, and puggle. He is an avid outdoorsman and jeep enthusiast.

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