4 Things to avoid when buying school shoes

It’s back to school season once again!  For kids, I know it comes way too soon. But for most parents, it can’t come soon enough, right?  Time to put the beach towels and bikes away, hunt down the school supply lists at Wal-mart, and start shopping for new back-to-school clothes and shoes.

When it comes to school shoe shopping, most parents don’t really know what to look for beyond feeling how close the big toe is to the end.  (Can you wiggle your toe?) While the fit is certainly important, there are certain types of kids shoes that just aren’t a good idea for their feet, no matter how well they fit. And considering that your kids will probably spend about 1,600 hours in their school shoes over the course of the year, it’s important to choose the right ones.

Here are a few things I recommend avoiding:

Hand-me-downs – Anyone who grew up as a younger sibling knows all too well that whatever big sis or brother wore would eventually end up in your closet. But when it comes to shoes, that’s a bad idea. Most shoes will mold to the foot that wears them, based on the shape of that foot and the way the person walks. But these are very unique factors for each person and will cause discomfort, blisters and possibly worse problems. So avoid handing down shoes.

Breaking in – Kids shoes shouldn’t need breaking in. If they’re not comfortable from the very beginning, don’t buy them. Most kids’ feet are going to be softer and more pliable than grown feet, especially for younger kids, so wearing shoes that need to be broken in can actually harm their feet. It’s also a good rule for parents, too.  Why buy uncomfortable shoes?

Synthetics – Manmade materials won’t stretch like natural materials, which when used on shoes can harm a child’s developing foot. While the cheaper shoes at discount retailers might be appealing for the household budget, they’re not a good option for school shoes. They also won’t last as long.

Air-tight – Another plus for shoes made of natural materials is that they’re breathable. Kids’ feet sweat a lot and need air. Anyone who’s ever had a teenage boy could tell you that. But it’s the same for littler feet as well. Choose shoes made of real leather or canvas, which will let air circulate to keep kids’ feet dry and comfortable.

I recommend shopping in a children’s specialty shoe store where the staff are trained on how to fit children’s shoes. They’ll also have higher quality products, which will be better for their feet and last longer.  Also make sure to check your kids’ shoes each month to see if they still fit comfortably. Because kids go through growth spurts and may outgrow their shoes before next year’s back-to-school shopping season.

Have a great school year!

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