Now that the calendar has flipped over into September, just about every kid in the area is either already in school, or maybe just a couple of days away at most.
A new school year is an exciting time for a kid, even if they don’t want to admit it. Seeing their old friends again, meeting new ones, starting up fall sports … what could be better?
As a parent, you want to make sure you get them ready with all the supplies they need—books, pencils, backpacks, notepads, planners. But aren’t you forgetting something? What about their shoes?
Back-to-school is a great time to evaluate your child’s footwear. Shoes that are too big, too small, too worn out, or just plain inappropriate for your child’s activities can cause them pain and keep them from enjoying play.
So, give those shoes a check. If your child’s longest toes are getting perilously close to hitting the front of the shoe when they’re in a standing position, it’s time for a new size. (Other obvious signs that shoes need to be replaced? Bulging sides, red and swollen feet, and even a child tripping over themselves can all be warning signs.)
Here are some quick tips to make sure that, after ditching the old pair, you leave the store with the right one.
No hand me downs. Rule number one is “No used shoes.” Sorry, penny pinchers! While we sympathize, used shoes can irritate new feet with old grooves. Worn down midsoles also mean less shock absorption and arch support.
No “you’ll grow into it.” Another “trick” some parents like to pull is buying shoes that are way too big for their child so they don’t outgrow them as quickly. Again, we sympathize. But this is also a really bad idea. Shoes that slide around (because they’re too big) can be just as painful and problematic as shoes that are too tight.
Always take your child with you. Seems obvious, but worth repeating. It’s really important to fit the shoes and let your child walk around them in person. New shoes should fit well and be immediately comfortable.
Always measure your child’s feet. Don’t just guess. Measure both length and width to figure out what shoe size your child should be looking for. That said, individual shoes can run a little bigger or smaller than the measurement, so you still want to test each pair for comfort.
Make sure your kid is wearing the right socks. Remember, socks take up space inside a shoe, too! If your child is wearing socks that are much thicker or thinner than the type he or she will ordinarily wear with the shoes, it can affect the fit and might cause you to buy the wrong size.
Get the right fit. Aside from comfort, a good shoe will leave about half an inch or so of space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe. At the back, you should be able to slide your finger between the heel and the back of the shoe—it should feel snug, but not too tight.
If your child is on a team, they should have sport-specific shoes. Technically this goes for any kid who plays a certain type of sport or activity regularly. Shoes specific to a sport will be made with certain features in mind, meant to protect your child’s feet from the unique dangers of that sport. It’s unwise to rely on the same pair of generic sneakers for all types of physical activity.
With these tips in mind, we’re sure you’ll be able to get your little one a pair or two that will look great, feel great, and keep their feet in top shape as they ease back into the school year!
If your child does develop any pain or discomfort in their feet—or you notice limping, tripping, or awkward gait patterns—please bring them in to see the pediatric foot care team at Martin Foot & Ankle. Address these problems now, before they have a chance to become chronic!
To schedule, call our office at (717) 757-3537, or request an appointment online.