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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Buying Shoes for Kids: 10 Things to Consider

With three kids to buy shoes for, it seems we are always in the market for a new pair.  There are some key things I've learned over the years, and I'm happy to share them with you!

10 Things to consider when buying shoes for kids:

1.  Is there room to grow, but not too much room?
I'm always tempted to buy shoes that are too big for my children because I want them to last longer.  This tactic usually does not work out, because they won't actually be able to wear the shoes until they fit properly.  Also, who am I kidding?  The shoes usually wear out before they grow out of them!  My new rule of thumb, if the shoe fits, they will wear it, and not before!  Buy a shoe that fits properly, with just a little bit of room to grow.

2.  Are they comfortable?
We've all bought shoes because of what they look like.  We are lured by their cuteness rather than by their comfort.  Women are known to choose pain for the sake of fashion, but kids are much less likely to do this.  In fact, they won't do it at all.  If a shoe doesn't "feel right", they just won't wear it.  Look for shoes that are the proper width for your child.  My daughter had very wide feet as a toddler, so we  had to buy special shoes.  As much as we tried to squeeze her feet into the sparkly, narrow, flats, they just wouldn't budge.  My son, on the other hand, had extremely narrow feet, so we had to find shoes that fastened tightly without slipping.

3.  Are they easy to get on and off, without falling off?
This is a huge one for me right now.  I love that my 2 year old wants to be independent, and put his shoes on by himself.  This task is achievable with his slip on shoes.  It sure makes my life easier! But be careful, you don't want the shoe to come off too easily.  This will cause havoc at the playground and the shopping centre.  Shoes that won't stay on are no good at all!

4.  Will they withstand the action?
Let's face it, kids are hard on shoes.  I always look at the sole and the toe.  I think about the shoe scraping the street on a skateboard, or dragging in the sand at the playground.  I think about how it will withstand puddles, mud, and the soccer field.

5.  Are they "fast" or "fancy"? 
Although comfort comes first, it is important that your child likes their shoes, or they won't wear them either.  My boys want their shoes to be "fast". In fact, they like to show me how fast their new shoes make them run, or how high they make them jump.  My daughter likes her shoes to be "fancy" and "fast" at the same time; a double challenge! I'm not huge into character shoes, but the kids love them. Every once in a while I cave and buy them, mostly because I know they will wear them.

6.  Can your child run and play while wearing them?
This is key.  After all, what we really aim to have are happy, playful children, right?  We want them to be able to run and play at will, without having to miss out on something because of their shoes.

7.  Will you let your child get them dirty?
Have you ever caught yourself telling your child not to do something because they might ruin their shoes and get them dirty?  Yes, well, me too... and I regretted it.  Rather than have them miss out, consider purchasing a shoe that can be cleaned up easily.  My favorite are the shoes I can throw right in the washer machine.

8.  Are they too cheap?
It is tempting at times to buy the least expensive shoes on the shelf, but like the saying goes, "you get what you pay for".  Not only will the shoes break down and not last long, chances are the cheap shoes are not good for your child's feet.  It is important to have proper insoles with arch support, especially in a sport shoe.

9.  Where can they wear them?
Are they practical?  Can they wear them most everyday?  Except for special occasion shoes, I really try and purchase shoes that my kids can actually wear on a daily basis.  Otherwise, we're stuck with a closet full of shoes that are too soon to be outgrown.  (See #10 below).

10. Do you really want an entry way full of shoes?
I've gotten to the point where the kids only have the shoes they need. There was a time we had several pairs for each child in different colors and styles.  We were swimming in shoes, and had no place to store them.  They were piled in the entry, in the laundry room, outside the door... you get the picture.  Then I realized they really only wore about three pairs of shoes regularly: their school shoes, their "church" shoes, and their sandals.  Sure made my life easier, and saved me lots of time and money.
Here is our manageable collection of shoes.

I hope you enjoyed this very practical guide to shoe shopping for children.  Remember, it's okay to splurge once in a while...even the littlest feet deserve a bit of shoe therapy! Happy shoe shopping!


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