How to Select Children’s Shoes

Most children learn to walk at about the time of their first birthday, although some learn months earlier or later. When your kid is growing and grawling, you may have your first questions about what shoes he or she should wear. A growing kid will need new shoes frequently, and more questions will arise.

The Fit

Pay attention to the shoe’s proper length, width and depth when fitting your child’s shoe. Poorly fitting kid’s shoes can cause toe problems, ingrown toenails, hammer toes, calluses and bunions.

Kid’s feet grow in spurts, and they require new shoes every three to four months. Most early toddlers (under 16 months of age) grow more than one-half a foot size in two months. Toddlers from age 16 to 24 months grow an average of one-half a foot size every three months. The young child, 24 to 36 months old, grows approximately one-half a foot size every four months, and children over 3 years of age experience increases of one-half a foot size every four to six months.

You should examine the depth of the shoe to make sure the top of the shoe doesn’t press on the toes or the toenails. Look for shoes with rounded toe boxes to give the toes more room for movement.

Remember, shoes should be comfortable from the start. If new shoes need to be “broken in,” it means either they were not properly designed or not properly fitted for your kid’s foot.

Shoe Construction

Shoes consist of four parts: the upper, the insole, the outer sole and the heel.


The upper part of the child’s shoe should be made of leather, canvas or the newer mesh materials. Children’s feet perspire heavily, and the upper part of their shoes should be made of breathable materials. Leather or canvas allows the foot to breathe. Avoid man-made non-breathabale materials, such as plastic.


Make sure the insole is made of thin absorbent material. No thick padded insoles. Most children do not need a special arch support. All toddlers younger than 16 months have flat feet and only fully develop an arch by the age of 6 to 8 years.

Outer Sole

The outer sole provides traction and flexibility to the shoe. Thick outer soles can make young children clumsy and cause falls and should be avoided. The outsole must be very flexible to allow proper foot muscle activity.


Children  do not need heels on their shoes. Flat outer soles make it easier – and natural – to begin walking. Remember, tall heels can cause the foot to slide forward and cramp the toes against the inside of the shoe. Heels also cause shortening of the Achilles tendon and plantar fascitis, not to mention the posture changes which in turn cause back problems.