In our house, shoe shopping is as popular as a visit to the dentist. It’s dreaded, can be painful and you really don’t want to do it more than once every six months. However it needn’t be such a chore and, just like healthy teeth, it’s important your kids’ shoes fit well and are comfy. After all, they’re bounding, bouncing and leaping around on their feet for 10 hours or more a day. Michelle Champlin, a podiatrist at Dubai Podiatry Centre, has these pointers.
Wherever possible, take your child with you when buying shoes and get them measured by a qualified shoe fitter. Don’t assume that the size of your child’s feet is one store will be the same in the another – there is tremendous variation across brands.
Not all stores have qualified shoe fitters, but don’t worry, you can easily measure yourself. Always measure standing up and get your child to walk around the store in the shoes. At the back, there should be a gap of 1-2mm and no heel slippage. To check their toes fit, press on the big and second toes. If your child can feel it straight away, the shoe is definitely too small. Toes should be up to 1cm away from the end of the shoe. Run your thumb from the little to the big toe. If there’s excess material, it’s too wide, but if the skin is plumped over, it’s too narrow. You should be able to get the tip of your finger inside but no more than that. Try the shoe in different sizes until you’re sure the fit is good.
Shoes that are flexible, bend easily and are secured onto their feet with laces or straps are best. Kids should be able to sit and wiggle their feet without the shoe falling off. Light-weight trainers, three-point sandals and ballet shoes with a strap are all ideal. Make sure the shoes aren’t too heavy and beware of adult-style miniature trainers and clumpy shoes. If they’re too heavy or bulky, junior will walk awkwardly, like an adult in ski boots. Shoes with soft heels are also advisable, but with any pair of shoes, it’s best to wear socks for the first week or two as kids’ skin is very soft.
Flip-flops are a big no-no except for special occasions. If your daughter wants to look like a party princess with a sparkly set of flip-flops, that’s fine for a one-off, but don’t wear them regularly as kids claw their toes to keep them on, damaging their toe nails and using some foot muscles more than others. Don’t buy shoes that have an arch as these will cause discomfort to a very young child and are unnecessary for older kids unless they have a ligament problem or other medical condition. Reinforced heels aren’t necessary either and could cause pain or blisters.
As much or as little as you like. While designer clobber may be of slightly better quality, kids will likely grow out of them within six months, and do they even know who Manolo ‘Blankets’ is? Provided they fit properly and are comfortable, then cheap shoes are fine. Budget for a second pair of shoes midway through the academic year rather than spending a fortune on new footwear every September.
Michelle Champlin is a UK-trained podiatrist at Dubai Podiatry Centre (04 343 5390; email@example.com)
1. Xblanco, brown, Dhs375, Mod8, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0260)
2. Solar Sun, navy, Dhs265, Clarks, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9042)
3. Disco Fever Junior, silver, Dhs195, Clarks, The Dubai Mall
4. Boys sandals, black, Dhs170, Skechers, Mercato (04 344 3119)
5. Girls sandals, pink, Dhs160, Skechers
6. Blue flower sandshoes, Dhs29, Shoe Mart, Lamcy Plaza (04 337 9811)