Yes, hand-me-downs can make life easier for parents with growing children. Kids do, after all, outgrow clothes, car seats, toys, and shoes so quickly! And being able to save money on items that have been barely used by passing them down to another child, or inheriting them from others, can help you avoid having to always buy brand new, expensive items.
We get it!
But while hand-me-downs can work great for kids’ outfits, they aren’t a good idea when it comes to footwear. In fact, you are better off skipping hand-me-down children’s shoes altogether. Why?
Let’s discuss this a bit.
No Two Feet are the Same
Shoes are designed to protect and support feet – whether they are for children’s feet or adult’s feet. And the longer they are worn, the more the insoles conform to the foot of the wearer, matching its shape. What’s more, the soles and other structures in the footwear will start to break down with use, making them less effective at supporting and protecting the lower limbs later.
So, what does that mean for feet?
Simply put, a worn-out pair of shoes will shape itself and develop wear and tear in spots that are unique to an individual’s foot – and this happens more quickly than you might think.
Now, even though most children outgrow their shoes well before they wear them out, all that standing, running, and playing they do is enough to form the footwear to their unique foot shape and biomechanics. Another child’s foot won’t fit quite the same inside a used shoe, which increases the second wearer’s risk for experiencing painful foot problems.
This also holds true when passing shoes down to younger siblings. It may seem like a money-saving plan, but doing so could be forcing children’s feet to form to shoes that don’t fit them correctly, and this could potentially contribute to a variety of problems and negatively impact your son or daughter’s foot health in the long run.
That’s why it’s better to skip the hand-me-down shoes.
But What About Baby Shoes?
Baby shoes and toddler’s footwear are exempt from this rule, however, since they don’t do a lot of walking on their own anyway.
More than that, because they are still mastering that skill, they aren’t able to run around and break down footwear as much as older kids. So if a pair of baby shoes is in good condition, shows no signs of forming to another child’s feet, and is clean, you can pass them on if you’d like.
Otherwise, you should ditch old shoes once their previous owner has outgrown them or if they start to show signs of wear and tear. And when looking for a new pair of kicks for your child, you should make sure to keep a few things in mind. (Which takes us to our next point.)
Finding the Perfect Shoes for Your Child
Now that you know when to get rid of those old shoes, it’s time to take your child shoe shopping. Here are some things to take into consideration when looking for the perfect pair of kicks for your son or daughter:
- Make sure to take your child shopping with you. Guessing how shoes will fit their feet is not going to cut it.
- Leave about a thumb’s width of wiggle room between the front of the shoe and the longest toe.
- Slide your index finger down to the second knuckle between the heel and the back of the shoe If it’s too tight, they are not the right fit.
- Buy shoes that offer plenty of arch support and heel cushioning.
- Consider the specific activities your child will be engaging in. You can ask a shoe store employee to help you find the best fit for your child’s sports of choice.
- Never buy shoes that are too big for your child’s feet – these can be just as damaging as shoes that are too small.
- Have your child walk around the store in each pair you test out to make sure they fit comfortably.
And if you have any questions about your child’s foot health, or need more guidance on how to find the best pair of shoes for your little one, you can count on our team of experts at Patel Podiatry to steer you in the right direction.
Find Expert Pediatric Foot Care at Patel Podiatry
Getting the best footwear for your sons and daughters is an important part of helping them grow up with healthy feet. So to be safe, it’s better to skip the hand-me-down children’s shoes. Instead, let our team at Patel Podiatry help you invest in your children’s foot health.
Contact our Connecticut offices by calling us to make an appointment: (203) 876-7736 for Milford, or (203) 288-4055 for Hamden. You can also take advantage of our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.