Children’s shoes

Purchasing shoes for children is often a difficult task for parents, as salespeople are not properly trained in this area. The debate has raged for years whether sneakers were adequate or would lead to permanent foot damage; low tops versus high tops, stiff sole vs. flexible soles, and so on. A review of the subject, based on recommendations of pediatricians, podiatrists, and orthopedic physicians now provide some guidelines. Children do not need shoes until they begin walking. A ten year study of children who wore sneakers revealed no long-term adverse results; most of the doctors surveyed believed that sneakers were adequate for children with normal feet. However children learning to walk while wearing sneakers slipped more often than those wearing leather shoes. There was no clear preference for high top shoes over low top. If the child continually walks out of his shoes or takes them off, high tops may be helpful. The authors caution that shoes should be tried on both feet before they are purchased. The shoes should be shaped like the child’s foot, and not curved in at the toes. Shoes should be long enough to allow one-half inch between the end of the child’s big toe and the end of the shoe. If the parent cannot feel this the shoe may be too stiff, and should not be purchased. Shoe soles should be soft enough for the parent to flex the shoe with one hand. (Pediatric Nursing 13(4) 230-232, 271, July-August, 1987) Copyright Phylis Austin

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