Children's shoes buying guide
What do you need to know before buying kids shoes? We asked Jamie Taylor, director of One Small Step, One Giant Leap, to answer all of our questions.
What are the most important things to know before buying children's shoes? We asked Jamie Taylor, director of One Small Step, One Giant Leap - whose footwear concessions can be found in Fenwick Kingston and Newcastle - to give us the answers.
###### How much on average do children’s feet grow per year? We had a presentation from a podiatrist recently who said that between the age of nought to four, children’s feet grow two sizes per year on average. From four onwards, it’s one size per year. That’s the case for around 85 per cent of children. Feet aren’t fully developed until they reach the early teens. Until then, bones are still forming so children should be careful not to wear ill-fitting shoes, which could impact on their foot growth. ###### What are the best pre-walker shoes? The key is getting the ankle support right and also having a flexible sole and upper. Funnily enough, podiatrists state that the best thing at this age (around 12 to 18 months) is not to wear shoes. But obviously when they go outside they do need to wear them. Start-rite shoes are the best as they offer flexible styles with good ankle support. It’s important to get variety on their instep, hence why you see a lot of Velcro shoes to achieve that flexibility. With Velcro, shoes aren’t too tight or too loose.
###### How often should toddlers have their feet measured? They should be measured and fitted every six weeks when they are pre-school age, as the rate of growth is so disproportionate. They can have such a big growth spurt in just four weeks. ###### Does one pair of school shoes last the year? Yes, a good-fitted pair should. There is a myth about not buying shoes at the beginning of the school holiday because children’s feet might grow by the time school starts, but unless you have a child that is growing very quickly, they should last at least nine months. ##### Can I hand shoes down to siblings? No, because that first child has worn those shoes in a way that is moulded around their feet. And leather being a flexible material will shape itself accordingly. The second sibling may have a completely different foot shape.
###### Which shoes should be avoided? It’s critical that pre-walkers get proper ankle support. And also the support at the back of the foot is important too. Non-specialist shoe brands often don’t offer the necessary support of proper, fitted options. With these sorts of shoes, you run the risk of the foot bed being very rigid, which doesn’t take into account the needs of a child’s growing foot. I would also advise wearing shoes that are made from natural materials. Man-made versions make the feet sweat. At least the uppers should be made of leather, if not also the insides. It sounds obvious but parents also forget to make sure that their children wear properly fitting socks. Often we have children coming to get their feet measured who are wearing an older sibling’s socks and that can alter the shoe size as much as half a size out.
###### What are the top three brands you’d recommend? Start-Rite, Geox and Max & May. Start-Rite do half sizes and width fittings. Also, with our brand Max & May we fit first so we don’t go in for style over substance. There are some lovely European brands which do lovely looking styles but, unlike British brands, they sometimes use leather that is too stiff for a child. Or they will offer a lace-up style which is impractical for a three year old. ###### Finally, how do you make their shoes last longer? It’s down to lifestyle and how much they wear that particular pair but for activities such as scooting we offer shoes that have an inbuilt bumper to prevent the shoes wearing down so quickly.