Kids Shoe Sizing FAQs Answered by Experts
You asked, we answered: Parents’ top 4 questions about kids’ shoes and sizing submitted by Jenzy users just like you. Meet Dr. Weiss and Dr. Rand as they answer your most common questions!
By Eve at Jenzy
September 22, 2021
As a parent of quickly growing children, it can be difficult to know all the answers when it comes to finding that perfect pair of shoes. By the time a child is 12 years old, their foot will be about 90% of its' adult length! This is why wearing properly fitting shoes as a child is so important to a child's foot health for life.
We enlisted two kids’ foot and shoe experts to help us answer your top questions. Dr. Weiss (pediatric physical therapist) and Dr. Rand (podiatrist) were more than happy to share their knowledge with us, and we’re happy to be passing along some nuggets of wisdom to you!
1) “My cousin often gives me hand-me-down shoes that I feel guilty if I don’t use, but often wonder how to tell if they are still in good enough shape to support my child’s foot in a healthy way. What should I look for?”
Dr. Weiss suggests, “Hand-me-down shoes are ok to use as long as they fit appropriately for your child. You also want to make sure they are not too rigid or too flimsy. You want just enough support around the ankle but enough flexibility around the toe box to allow your child’s muscles to activate.” Hillary Wing (professional shoe fitter) also warns that “hand-me-down shoes can be tricky because feet wear shoes individually. Look for a shoe that is gently worn, meaning the sole is still clean and the shoe is barely creased across the toe box.”
2) “My daughter is 20 months and has been walking since she was 11 months. I’ve heard that it is best for her to be barefoot for the most part. Is that true? I always thought that having the support of shoes was better.”
Hillary believes, “Barefoot is the best policy, in safe settings, to allow muscles and balance to develop without restriction. If your child is walking on their toes, or pronating, it is best to see a physical therapist to discuss what type of support your child’s foot needs.” Dr. Weiss also agrees, saying, “It is true that when children are first learning to walk that barefoot is better to allow the small muscles of the feet to activate and allow your child to appreciate the tactile feedback they get when they are barefoot. Shoes with appropriate support should be worn outside the home.”
3) “For bigger kids, when should we start thinking about shoes with good support? I have unusually high arches and I remember around twelve I stopped being able to wear shoes with little to no arch support. Curious to know when my kids might start showing signs of needing arch support.”
Did you know babies aren't born with an arch? An arch develops as a child starts to walk. Dr. Rand says, “It is normal for children to be flat footed up until age 6-7 at which time the foot should form an arch. It is at this age which I would recommend to start wearing orthotics. If younger children have a severe flatfoot or hyper mobility then they may need to start before age 6.”
4) “Recently my 2 year old started walking around on his tippy toes (no idea where he got this from!). Could that be an indication that his shoes don’t fit right? Or is he just exploring?”
Hillary's first thought is sometimes toe walking can be explained by push toys. It sounds crazy, but a child - especially a first walker - is constantly trying to "keep up" with a toy on wheels which could lead to walking or jogging on their toes. So, try removing these types of toys and replacing them with balls, bikes, etc. to see if that self-corrects the issue!
Dr. Weiss replies, “walking on tiptoes could come from a variety of reasons. Improper shoe fitting is one thing to look for. It is also important to make sure that your child’s heel-cords have appropriate length and are not tight, preventing your child from walking on a flat foot. Some children get sensory input from walking on their toes. If you have questions or concerns, always talk to your doctor.”
Did we answer your questions? Keep us on our toes! If you have a question that you would like to see included next time, please chat us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Lauren Weiss received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2006 from Arcadia University. Dr. Weiss' PT career began at Kencrest providing home based Early Intervention PT services to infants, toddlers and their families. Today, Dr. Weiss has her own practice, AW Physical Therapy, a home based practice located in Philadelphia, PA. Current areas of interest include torticollis treatment and empowering healthy posture and gross motor development. Contact Dr. Weiss here.
Dr. Richard Rand is a board certified foot and ankle specialist at Oasis Foot & Ankle Center in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Rand attended medical school at Barry University, School of Podiatric Medicine before moving to Arizona for his residency training at Maricopa Medical Center. The advanced residency program at Maricopa included one full year of general surgery, which allowed Dr. Rand to become the third podiatrist in the country to own a General Surgery Internship Certificate. Contact Dr. Rand here.