Children’s feet grow at an incredible rate so it’s vital to get their feet carefully measured every time you buy new shoes – especially school shoes. Badly fitting, uncomfortable (or too high!) footwear can cause a lifetime of misery from blisters to bunions.
Clarks‘ foot fitting manager Bob Hardy (read more him about in Friday’s dedicated profile), who’s helped design Clarks shoes for 40 years, offers some top tips to getting the perfect fit for your child….
What’s the Number 1 tip for getting the right shoes for a child?
“Get your child’s feet professionally measured. The first thing to remember is how much wear your children will get out of their shoes. An average child will wear their school shoes for 1,000 hours and take one million steps before they wear out.
“So the shoes need to be comfortable and durable. Less than a third of children are a standard fitting, so you should look for ranges of shoes that accommodate half sizes and different widths.”
How much do children’s feet grow and should you buy shoes slightly bigger to make them last longer?
“There’s a big variation for different children. On average, they may grow 2 full sizes a year until they’re 4 or 5, and then around a shoe size each year until their mid-teens.
“The most important thing about shoes is that they need to be proportioned properly. Don’t buy a size up because the shoes will be disproportionate to the foot shape.”
When should you buy a new pair of shoes?
“It varies depending on how old your child is and how active. If they’re not worn out you can always take your child back to the store to check if the shoes are still the right size. If they are, you won’t need to buy a new pair until the ones you have are too small.”
Should you avoid heels on children’s shoes?
“Anything over one inch is going to affect the way a child walks so I would disuade any child from wearing heels for general day-to-day wear.
“You only have one pair of feet and a bit of hard skin or blistering will heal but changes in the bones can lead to bunions and your big toes will never work as they should again.”
What can your child’s shoes tell you about the way he walks?
“Before age 5 it’s probably not worth worrying,” says Bob. “But by the time your child’s at school, the wear should be on the outside corner of the heel and fairly even wear to the front. If there’s wear on the inside of the sole, it could indicate your child is not walking correctly.
“The things that will look different if there is a problem are the shape of the top of the shoe – it shouldn’t slope to either side as this indicates too much pressure on that side.
“If you notice anything, it’s worth mentioning to your GP as he can refer you to a podiatrist who can use some very simple ways to correct it.”
Other things to think about when buying school shoes
As well as taking Bob’s advice on all of the above, regarding school shoes, do take the following into account too:
Can your child remove and put on the shoes themselves easily enough?
Especially if your child is going into Reception, you might want to consider going for velcro rather than laces, or anything that your child finds easy to put on and off as they’ll be doing PE and will need to remove their shoes themselves – and put them back on again securely.
What’s the school policy on which shoes are allowed?
Does your child’s school have a strict policy on shoes? Perhaps not – and perhaps your child can wear any colour and any style.
But maybe they only allow black shoes. And if that’s the case – you might want to check whether black trainers count as uniform or not before you go buying them.
How sturdy are your child’s shoes?
Shoes can be expensive, so you don’t want to be buying new pairs more than you have to. So if your child is into sport, and there’s a fair chance they’ll be kicking a football about a lot during playtime, you might want to look into getting shoes that are super-sturdy – particularly around the toe.
One of our team mums, Helen B, tells us she has a son who was an avid football player during his school breaks and she found herself having to buy him new shoes every term as the toes went in holes so quickly from being bashed by the ball…
Remember the other shoes your child has at school
As well as the ones your child wears to school everyday, they’ll probably have trainers or plimsolls in a gym bag – which might not come home very often.
So, if you know your child has shoes they wear only at school, make sure you check-in and ask every now and then if they’re still wearable and (perhaps most importantly) big enough.