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How do I choose the best shoes for my child?

Updated: May 11, 2022

If you did not read our blog on kids feet and their development we have promised big about giving you the low down on kids shoes. The aim of this blog is to increase your knowledge of shoe characteristics for each stage of your kids feet and when to wear them.

Before we get into this I want to make this abundantly clear; this is a guide and we will refrain from naming specific models of shoes as every child’s feet require delicate selection of shoes that fit their feet and their requirements at their stage of development.

Now back onto characteristics; generally, the shoe brands are quite good at splitting their shoe models into different categories. If we use Clarks as an example they have ‘pre-walking’, ‘Toddler’ and ‘Junior’. Bobux is similar with their ‘First Walkers’, ‘Toddlers’ and ‘Pre school and kids’. Each brand gives us a great break down of characteristics for that particular stage of kid’s development.

To quote Bobux, “we believe in stage not age when discussing kids shoes”, what we mean by that is think about what stage of development your little munchkin is currently in and choose appropriate shoes for that stage.

The pre-walking stage of development requires shoes that are very soft and flexible, and the only purpose of these shoes is to control temperature. Make sure that the shoes aren’t too tight as children's feet are incredibly flexible at this age and are easily shaped.

Toddler stage is when we are up and having our first steps. We want our shoes to be the shape of our little feet so always check you have half to a full thumb nail at the end and no little piggy’s (toes) are curling up to the edge of the shoe. Some flexibility in most shoes this age is generally accepted. At this stage of development feet are still very flexible but this is not a one size fits all. If your little one has floppy joints and might be slightly delayed with walking or running, then consider something with a bit of torsional stability and rigidity.

A handy way to think about torsional stability is to pick up the shoe and try and ring it out like a dish cloth. If you have no resistance and can ‘ring out the shoe’, then you have no stability or resistance. If the shoe has a shank or stable sole it will resist this movement and that same resistance is applied to the foot when you are wearing said shoe. We want a shoe that has some resistance, as some kids will benefit from increased resistance but again this is only a guide.

As we are into preschool, kinder and primary school shoes become a thing of ‘wear and tear’. Kids will be playing a multitude of different sports as well as lots of playing, running and jumping. Here we look to Ascent for school shoes; their branding is clever as they are really a running shoe in disguise. They have a stable EVA midsole which is great for running and activity but a black leather upper which some schools require. If you are after a ‘jack of all trades’ sports shoe then consider a cross trainer Asics or New Balance as they are some of the better makers of kids shoes in small sizes. A left field option here is Merrel for outdoor kids that go bush walking or live on farms.

Running shoes are generally designed to go in a straight line, therefore as soon as you begin to play a sport that involves a change in direction you will wear them out pretty quickly. Although ‘runners’ are great and comfortable, they can wear out really quickly if worn most days to school and sport. We like runners for our little athletes or as a casual play shoe amongst other shoe options. If worn day in day out to school and sports be prepared to buy 2+ pairs a year. Again, Asics and New Balance are good options in this category.

Now we’ve covered pretty much every stage of development up to Primary school aged children and some of the advice around choosing shoes based on their stage of development and not their age.

Hobart is notoriously difficult for buying kids shoes. However, you can find Bobux stocked at Lauren and Sam, at the bottom of Murray street. They also stock a variety of other options. The staff at Running Edge (also in Murray street) will also help you with your cross trainers and running shoes.

If you have any questions or want more advice about kids shoes, then please get in touch.

Next week, common foot problems that your cherubs might face and how we can help.

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