The back-to-school season is kicking off next month and foot-health experts suggest new shoes are as essential as a new notebook or laptop. Kids, likely to have outgrown their shoes during the summer months, will need a fresh pair whether they’re heading back to the classroom or learning at home.
While it’s easy to tell if kids have outgrown their clothes by sleeves or pant legs that are too short, footwear can be trickier. According to KidOShoes, an Austin, Texas-based children’s shoe store, the younger the foot, the faster it grows. On average, a child will grow up to nine sizes in their first three years. A child may require a new pair of shoes every three to six months until they are 3, according to the retailer, but after the age of 4, it can be reduced to one size every eight to 12 months, depending on individual growth spurts.
Shoes that are too small, noted KidOShoes, can hinder growth, decrease circulation, or cause foot issues such as blisters and ingrown toenails. Kids’ feet also tend to sweat about two to three times more than an adult foot, increasing the risk of developing foot fungus and infections.
Shoes that are too big can also cause foot issues, since feet can move around causing friction and irritations, while younger children who may be unsteady on their feet run the risk of tripping.
New York podiatrist Dr. Mika Hayashi, warns since kids’ feet are flexible and easily adapt to a shoe that’s too small by curling their toes to fit inside. This can mirror the effect of the Chinese method of foot binding, causing damage to young feet.
When checking the fit of a child’s shoe, Dr. Hayashi suggests starting at the forefoot of the shoe. While the first or big toe is typically thought of as the longest digit, it may actually be the second or longest toe, so parents should make sure there’s ample room throughout the area.
Although shopping in-store may not be easy these days with many safety guidelines in place due to COVID-19, getting a child’s foot properly measured is essential to promoting good foot health. It will also eliminate the hit-or-miss method of buying shoes online.
To ensure kids are fitted properly, have their feet measured by a fit specialist in a shoe store. Since most independents keep detailed records of consumers’ past purchases, when it comes to style, brand and size, they can gauge a child’s foot growth. And, many will send out reminders when it’s time to have their feet measured.
Even if kids will be starting off the school year at home, it’s essential they have at least two pairs of shoes since alternating shoes in between wearings allows each pair time to refresh. While sneakers are a must-have when heading outdoors for some recreation, a pair of slippers can offer some at-home comfort and support.