I have had several requests on how to tell what kind of shoe to get for your child, usually in the infant to toddler age range, and I will do my best to impart my words of wisdom on the subject. However, I will caution you that if you have serious concerns about your child’s feet or what kind of shoe they should be wearing, your best bet is to have a professional look at them because their help will be more accurate to your specific needs. Ok, that being said, if you remember back to my first post ‘If the Shoe Fits…‘ I discuss why your child may or may not need shoes earlier than the recommended 17 months. In this post I will discuss what to look for in your child’s feet and what to consider when buying a shoe. If this is of interest than please feel free to read on!
To start, if your child is receiving services for developmental delay, and they have abnormal tone issues (low tone or high tone), than you may want to ask their service provider regarding what would be best for them in terms of foot wear, and possibly orthotics to support their foot position. For children who don’t fit into this category, the thing I notice most that would cause me to recommend being choosy in their footwear, is a child who has excessive pronation at their ankle and foot. Here is a picture of a child with pronation at both of her feet:
The easiest way you can tell is by looking at the back of the foot. Does their heel look like it is slanting towards the middle, and does their achilles tendon not make a straight line? It may look like your childs ankles are bending inward. If this is the case your child most likely has foot pronation. If your child has this, and is already walking, I would recommend a supportive shoe that will hold their heel in place, and covers their whole foot. It should have a sneaker type sole and use laces or velcro. I know sandals and Crocs and Robeez are really cute, although if your child needs support, these will not provide it! Stride Rite makes several pairs that are great for supporting your child’s foot. As for getting the correct fit, you can go into a store and get measured, although here are some guidelines to assist you in making the purchase. In addition to finding a good shoe, if your child needs some additional arch support for their foot, Cascade is a company that provides children’s inserts. They have several levels although the one I like the best is the Pollywog (pictured here):
This insert provides arch support while cupping the heel to help hold it in a neutral position. The inside is made of a foam like material so it is comfortable for you child. If you are going to get inserts, make sure you buy shoes after you get the insert to ensure they fit!
This may all seem a little overwhelming. I mean, as adults there are a lot of us out there with pronated feet so why is it a bad thing for our kids? I like to think of it as they are just starting out and their foot is their starting point. If the alignment of their foot is off, it can change the alignment all the way up their bodies as well as potentially cause problems down the line. And please remember, these are just guidelines and suggestions, if you have specific questions about your child’s feet, please have them looked at so you can get answers that are custom to your child.