Choosing the right school shoes for your child is not something that most parents actively look forward to. You spend what seems like hours traipsing from shoe store to shoe store with a child (or children!) in tow trying on multiple shoes looking for that perfect fit.

It can feel like a whole expedition – you may feel the need to pack snacks and things to distract them from the boredom they will no doubt be sharing with you at every opportunity! But with a few simple tips, you can find the right school shoes for your child without the unwelcome hassle that often accompanies your annual school shoe shopping trip.

Here are 5 simple tips from a Sydney podiatrist on choosing the right school shoes for your child.

Get Your Child’s Feet Measured

Knowing what size your child’s feet are is crucial but often overlooked. Parents sometimes feel that they can simply pop shoes on their children and see if the look OK once on.

But knowing what your child’s foot size is, and how it’s been growing since they were last fitted is very helpful. Not only will you know exactly what size and style of shoe will be best for your child, but it will help cut down your shopping time immensely.

Another key thing to check when being measured is your child’s foot width – it’s not all about the length. If your child needs a wide fit shoe and you aren’t aware of this, you could end up hurting their feet instead of helping them grow.

Timing Is Everything

There can be confusion about when to go shoe shopping as well. Some parents like to get all their back to school shopping done as early as possible – sometimes even getting their school shopping done before the end of term 4 of the current year! But while this may seem super organised and means you avoid the back to school chaos the week before school starts, it can mean that your child’s school shoes don’t get as much wear as you think. Or worse, they may have completely outgrown them before day 1 of the new school year!

Shopping closer to the start of term allows you to get the best fit possible and the most life out of the shoes. Just don’t leave it until the last minute unless you love the crowds and the stress!

Avoid Shoes That Are Too Flexible

Having a good midfoot stabiliser is crucial for school shoes and indeed all children’s shoes. You can do a basic test to see what sort of stabiliser your shoes have by attempting to fold the shoe in half.

If the tip of the shoe is almost reaching the opening of the shoe, it means there is a distinct lack of midfoot stabilisation in that shoe. What you want to see is just the tip of the shoe able to bend backwards, no more than the first few centimetres.

Check The Heel Support

The heel counter of your child’s school shoe needs to be firm and supportive. To check this, push on the back of the shoe and see how much it moves.  You want it to move very little – if the heel counter folds all the way into the shoe itself, it means it provides minimal ankle and heel support for the wearer. Having a firm heel counter gives your child more stability and also reduces the chance of sprained ankles.

Listen To Your Child

If your child is complaining that a shoe doesn’t fit, feels too loose or too tight, listen to them. Most school aged children will be able to tell you what feels right and what feels wrong in their shoes. Even if they aren’t sure what it is about the shoe, if they don’t like it, it’s highly probable that they won’t wear them anyway – and the last thing you want to do is spend good money on shoes that your child refuses to wear.

Most good children’s shoe shops will be able to help you choose the right school shoes for your child so don’t be afraid to ask questions to help them help you. If you have any concerns about your children’s foot growth or general foot health, don’t hesitate to contact your local podiatrist and get a professional opinion on the matter.

Rudo Makuyana is one of the podiatrists The Foot Hub in Sydney. Rudo is passionate about foot health and treating patients holistically – not just the individual problem. Originally from Zimbabwe, she completed her Bachelor of Podiatric Medicine at the University of Western Australia (School of Surgery) in 2011. She now practices in her foot clinic in Alexandria, Sydney and also volunteers and advocates for the rights of the world’s poor.

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