Toe Space - Look at the end of the shoe, and make sure there is enough space for your child’s toes to spread! When purchasing flats, really assess the toe end of the shoe. The rest of the shoe might be fine, but if it is squeezing the toes together the shoe could be a good ole bunion maker. This can even show up in sandals, my feet are wide enough when my toes spread that they can hang off of some sandals.
Breathable - Tennis shoes can be stuffy because of the lack of air flow, coupled with socks and sweaty little feet. Also the laces can act as a sort of corset on the foot and ankle, restricting movement
If you are crafty, you can easily ensure that flip flops are secured to the foot by adding extra material that goes around the heel and/or ankle.
Minimal or No Heel - This is a tricky one for a few reasons. If your child has been running around barefoot all summer they are probably fine for minimal shoes. If they have been in platform flip flops, send them our way so that they can begin to adapt their body to a more natural state. Also, when we say no heel, it really means no positive heel. That is, any amount of lift from the floor, even if it’s only ¼ of an inch. Keep in mind, because children are shorter and their feet are smaller, the effects of any positive heel is that much greater.
Bendable - This is a rather easy test, grab the shoe and see if there is any give to the sole. The foot is a complex mechanism, and needs to move in as many ways as it can. A rigid sole of a shoe can severely restrict movement of the foot which will impact the walk of the child.
Attaches to the Foot - I am mostly singling out flip flops here, but really any slide on shoe can give the foot problems as it tries to lift up and step forward. If you are crafty, you can easily ensure that flip flops are secured to the foot by adding extra material that goes around the heel and/or ankle.
Shoe Size - It can be difficult to be sure what size of shoe to buy for growing feet. The tendency is to buy a few sizes up, but each shoe is made to fit for function for the size listed. IF the shoe is too big, it can be bending in the wrong place and your child’s foot, which again can affect how your child will walk or how the foot will adapt to compensate for that change.
Barefoot is Best - As always I like to reiterate that barefoot is best when and where you can be barefoot. So maybe taking those sweet new shoes off once you get home!
Life and family and work can be hard enough without extra add-ons, and once you go down the wellness rabbit hole it can feel like it swallows you whole. My intention is not to bog you down, but equip you with information so that you can make the best choices for you and your family now. Many people come across this information years later and wish that they had made that change. Also consider that this is a transition, so baby steps will be better than doing something drastic anyway. Just do what you can, no judges here.
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