We’re now a few weeks into the new school year, and by now much of the back-to-school shopping, preparation and anxiety has subsided.
But as all seasoned parents know, when it comes to the kids and teens in their lives, the worrying is never really over.
While we can’t help solve all of the challenges that the school year and parenting in general are sure to bring, Footwear News can definitely help parents navigate the world of children’s feet and shoes.
Here are four tips for keeping your kids’ feet healthy this school year.
Keep Tabs On Your Child’s Growth
You know the story: One day they’re learning to take their first steps, the next they’re filling out college applications.
Children grow quickly. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), their shoe and sock sizes may change every few months. And if they’re forcing their feet into ill-fitting shoes, painful irritation can occur.
So the APMA advises parents to measure a child’s feet before buying shoes and watch carefully for signs of irritation that indicate it’s time for a replacement.
Say No To Shoe-Sharing
Since children grow so quickly, parents may feel they’re not getting their money’s worth when it comes to footwear and apparel purchases. For this reason, hand-me-downs are a popular option. Not only does purchasing or exchanging used footwear help parents save money, but giving away or selling used shoes can help parents feel better about buying shoes that their children only wore briefly.
The APMA warns, however, that shoe-swapping could be a bad idea.
“Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another the same way,” says one APMA report. “Also, sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete’s foot and nail fungus.”
Check Shoes For Wear And Tear
Wearing worn-out shoes can damage a child’s growing feet, and all that school-year running around can accelerate the rate at which shoes wear out. Parents should routinely examine their children’s shoes for signs that they no longer provide the support and comfort the child needs.
The heels of shoes should get particular attention, the APMA said.
“Children may wear through the heels of shoes more quickly than they outgrow the shoes,” the group warns. “Uneven heel wear can indicate a foot problem that should be checked by a podiatrist.”
Match the Shoe With the Activity
Before the school year begins, parents often shop for their children’s supplies armed with a list of pre-determined school-year needs. But those needs often change, and as the year unfolds, it can be easy to lose track of the activities that children add to or drop from their schedules.
Children should have appropriate shoes for the type of sports and other activities they engage in. If a child signed up for basketball at the beginning of the year but adds football to his/her activity list, those basketball shoes are not likely to transfer.
After the age of 10, the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine says parents should invest in sport-specific shoes for children.