Children’s bones and joints are developing growing rapidly, and they have a lot of energy to burn. Parents can encourage their children to be active, while helping to protect their busy, growing bodies, by selecting the right shoes for their youngsters.
The right shoes will be sized correctly, have low heels and good traction, be appropriate for the weather conditions, and be attractive to your child.
Adults make sure their own shoes fit properly, but tend to buy too big for their children, so they do not have to buy new shoes often. However, a better approach is to allow a little room to grow, but not too much, and to plan to buy new shoes two to three times a year during rapid growth stages. An active child can wear out a pair of shoes in that amount of time, anyway. A good rule is to allow one-half size to grow into, and check the child’s feet every two to three months. The child may not tell you his or feet are pinched, especially if he really likes the shoes or considers them stylish.
Secondly, avoid shoes with high heels and pointed toes, such as cowboy boots, for your child’s regular, active wear. Cowboy boots are designed to keep from getting caught in the stirrups in case the cowboy falls from his horse. However, any shoes with high heels are unnatural for walking, and can keep children’s feet and ankles from developing properly. Pointed shoes can squeeze and inhibit proper toe development, as well.
Another problem with cowboy boots is lack of traction, due to smooth soles (to facilitate getting out of the stirrup in an emergency). Dress shoes are also notorious for slick soles, so be careful to choose those with some grip. Falls hurt, and sometimes result in lasting injury, especially to knees, elbows, hips and ankles. A good sole will help your child keep his footing on dry or wet pavement, slick floors, and grass.
Fourth, insist that your child wear shoes appropriate for the weather conditions, with traction, water protection and ankle support in mind. Winter ice on sidewalks presents a safety hazard, making traction especially important. Along with that, comes the added need for ankle support in snowy conditions. Children love to play in the snow, but it slows a youngster down. The child may react by trying harder to keep up with her normal pace, jerking and falling in the snow, and getting up again. Boots with excellent ankle support will help prevent sprains and other injuries.
Finally, buy shoes that the child likes, but do a little research before taking her shopping with you. She may be thrilled with shoes that have her favorite cartoon character on them, but other characteristics may make the same shoes a poor choice for developing bones and joints. See what is available at your local shoe store, then go online and check product reviews. Select three or four that have excellent ratings, then take your child with you to select his or her favorite from your list.
Following these tips, select good, comfortable shoes to help keep your child safe and promote long-term joint health.