Selecting the right shoes for your child’s delicate feet is crucial. Ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes can have a significant impact on their health and even lead to poor walking posture.
Let’s explore some common misconceptions to steer clear of when choosing your child’s shoes.
Misconception 1: Softer Shoes Are Better
As children’s bones, joints, and ligaments are in the midst of development, overly soft shoe backs lack the necessary support. This can result in foot wobbling inside the shoes, potentially causing ankle joint and ligament injuries. Therefore, children’s shoes should have firm, supportive shoe backs that envelop the heel to minimize excess foot movement. Additionally, while the shoe upper (especially the front) should offer some flexibility for comfortable bending of the child’s feet, the upper over the arch area should be slightly softer.
Misconception 2: The More Flexible the Shoe Sole, the Better
Children’s shoes should have a sole of the appropriate thickness and firmness. Overly soft soles cannot provide the necessary support to the arch of the foot, which might lead to fatigue when children wear them. Many children’s shoes are designed to bend in the middle, right at the arch of the foot. However, this can be risky for delicate arches. Scientifically, the bending point should be at the metatarsophalangeal joint, which is around the first one-third of the front of the shoe. This positioning aligns with the natural bending point of the foot during walking.
Misconception 3: Thick Soles Offer Better Comfort and Shock Absorption
Thicker soles require more effort to bend, which can lead to fatigue in children, particularly those who love to run and jump. This can impact the health of their feet, knees, and lower back. Thick-soled shoes also often feature higher heels, causing the entire foot to shift forward, disrupting the balance of force on the foot. Long-term wear of such shoes can affect the joint structure of a child’s feet and even lead to deformities in the spine, impacting brain, heart, and abdominal development. For children’s shoes, the sole thickness should ideally range from 5mm to 10mm, and the heel height should be within 6mm to 15mm.
Misconception 4: Arch Support Shoe Inserts Are More Comfortable
Many children’s shoes come with arch support inserts, often assumed to offer comfort and health benefits. In reality, these inserts restrict the stretching space for the arch of the foot and inhibit the necessary exercise of the arch muscles in developing feet. Over time, these factors could contribute to flat feet.
Tips for Buying Children’s Shoes
- Avoid purchasing shoes with a strong, chemical odor, as it may indicate the presence of harmful substances within the shoe.
- When shopping for infant and toddler shoes, choose styles with clean and minimal components. If there are any small attachments, gently pull and check for their stability. If these attachments are smaller than a one-dollar coin and seem prone to detachment, consider an alternative.
- Opt for shoes with rubber soles as a priority. The soles should ideally have deep, distinct patterns, as this design enhances traction, provides efficient water and mud drainage, and offers superior slip resistance. On the other hand, shoes with large, soft, foam-like soles or shallow patterns are likely to have weaker slip resistance.
Ensuring that your child’s shoes provide comfort and support while avoiding common misconceptions will contribute to their healthy foot development.