Age of Your Child
The first factor to consider is the age of your child. Babies, for example, don't really need shoes until they start to walk. In fact, it makes it easier for your baby to learn to walk if he or she has bare feet. For babies, it is simply recommended that you just use socks to protect their little feet from the elements.
Once your baby becomes a toddler you will want to look for shoes that they can wear to protect their feet as they toddle about in the world. Their shoes will need to be breathable, with a firm yet flexible sole that will be easy for them to learn how to walk in.
By the time your toddler becomes a pre-schooler you really need to choose shoes that can withstand the hard knocks your child will put them through every day. Durability and functionality are key when it comes to choosing shoes for your pre-schooler who will run, jump and play in them daily.
What to Look for in a Good Kid's Shoe
Your child's shoes should have a flexible and non-skid sole to protect them as they walk around both indoors and outdoors. It is also recommended to choose lightweight materials such as soft leather, canvas or cloth so that your child's feet can breathe and move adequately. You don't want the material to be too tight, as is the case in most plastic or rubber shoes, but you also want to make sure they provide support and stability. Make sure you can bend the shoe in your hand without much effort.
The treads of the shoes for your child should have grooves that will prevent your child from slipping, but you also need to make sure that the grooves are not so deep that they may cause your child to trip on a rug or carpet.
And whilst it may be tempting to go with the trendiest and cutest shoes that you see, they might not really be good for your child to walk in if they don't meet the criteria mentioned above.
How to Know If the Size Is Right?
It is recommended that you get your toddler's feet properly measured so that you get the right size shoe for their feet from the get-go. However, once you know their size, there is no need to invest big-bucks on each pair of shoes, as their feet will grow again quickly.
For both toddlers and pre-schoolers, you will want to check the fit is ok. It is recommended that you shop later in the day because your child's foot will often expand and swell as the day progresses. You don't want a shoe that was tried on in the morning to feel tight when worn in the afternoon!
Get your child to stand up when trying shoes on. First check the heel and make sure there is enough space to fit your pinky finger between your kid's heel and the heel of the shoe. Then check the front and make sure there is a thumb-width space from the longest toe to the front of the shoe.
If the shoes will be worn with socks, make sure your child tries them with socks on so you can get the sizing just right. They shouldn't be too big or too small or they might make it hard for your kid to walk in and could also be unsafe. You also want to make sure the shoes won't rub or cause pain in any area of the foot when they are wearing the shoe.
You might find that you have to replace toddler's shoes as much as every month, so do this fitting test regularly to make sure they are wearing shoes with a suitable fit.
Lace, Snap, or Velcro?
The final big choice you will need to consider is how the shoe will be fastened. This might depend somewhat on the age of your child and their skill level. A toddler will find it difficult to do up laces, and will probably find Velcro fastening easier for taking their shoes on and off.
If your pre-schooler is able to tie up laces, and you prefer this option, make sure the lace is long enough to double tie so they don't come undone and cause your child to trip!
At the end of the day, the best shoes for your child are ones that fit well and are functional - try to forget about fashion! That said, there are many trendy shoes that do fit the rules in this guide so that your kid is wearing shoes that are both good for their growing feet and which look good too!