Best Shoes for Kids – 14 Tip for Healthy Feet & Buying Shoes

Kids Shoes

Children have feet that are always growing. When I was a kid I used to have shoes with pockets, called Roos. I thought they were the best thing since sliced bread. I was very active and always did a good job roughing up my shoes.

The best shoes for children are the ones that meet their physical development needs and help them gain independence in tying their own shoes. Children have bones that have not fully developed, so getting shoes that help them with healthy foot development is best.

I went through quite a few shoes, some with laces and some with velcro. I was able to learn to tie my shoes as a child but didn’t learn until I asked someone to help. I wanted to tie my shoes by myself and not have anyone help me. What types of shoes are best for kids?

Things Change So Quickly

As we observe the world, we see one thing that occurs often, a fast-growing transformation of technology and culture.

Every day, shoe technologies are changing, and many shoes have more advanced features than we had in the past.

Since the invention of the shoe, we have been using shoes to help protect our feet and help them stay warm. But shoes are not always as helpful as we might think.

We will talk about how you can choose shoes that are best for your child and ways to keep their feet healthy. Unfortunately, even with new shoe technologies, maintaining healthy feet isn’t always easy.

Being Informed

We can buy shoes online and try them on at home, which can save some time and effort, but when it comes to children’s shoes going to the store might be your best option.

I say this because it gives you a chance to really inspect the shoes and see how they are made. This can help you determine if the shoes are best for your child.

Once you’ve done enough research on your own, then you won’t need to take a lot of effort in the future and can easily shop online to buy the shoes your child needs.

If you feel that your child’s health should be a top priority, even when it comes to their feet, then being informed will bring help you make a good decision for your child.

But many times parents don’t have all of the information readily available to make healthy choices for their child, like what shoes they should get for their child.

We all tend to have hectic lives when we are taking care of children. Hopely some of the ideas in this article can help clear up any confusion about what shoes are best to help your young child.

Children’s Feet

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As children grow, their shoe needs are different than adults’. Even babies’ feet are different than toddlers’ feet. And toddlers are different than school-age kids.

Babies’ feet start as cartilage and baby fat. Bones will start to replace the cartilage over time until children reach adulthood. Foot health can be maintained when feet can walk and grow naturally.

Shoes seem to interfere with foot development in some ways. That’s because don’t always allow for natural walking and foot growth.

When we consider that feet need a healthy environment for healthy growth, we can determine better how to choose shoes that may help with this.

How do children’s feet develop?

A child’s feet grow quickly until the age of 2 or 3. Usually, for every child, the growth rate is different and depends on many factors.

Normally, the growth of feet is approximately 2cm a year at the age between 0 to 2.

Eventually, children will outgrow their shoes. We can buy new ones or take out the hand-me-downs. As we do this, we might feel that doesn’t really matter what shoe I get. Does it?

Yes. Your choices matter, even if they may make a small difference for your child. Since children’s feet are continually growing, their cartilage and bones are growing as well.

From the age of 2 to 5 it can be 1.5cm per year and will be reduced to 1cm per year at the age of 6 to 11 years. It is recommended to measure the foot length every 2 months, 3 months, and 6 months respectively to ensure the best foot care.

So, the first step to helping your child have healthy feet is to measure them often. Make sure they have shoes that are not tight.


Kids have soft and fragile feet that are developing bones that are taking shape. It is necessary to take care of them to have healthy feet and foot movement mechanics.

If you look at your own toes what do you notice? I notice on my feet that some of my toes are somewhat misaligned. Maybe for some others, some of the toes are slightly twisted or at an awkward angle.

What happened? Either they were born that way or our feet were not able to develop in the best environment. Many shoes just don’t have the requirement for healthy foot development.

Your shoes help to support and can also shape your feet. To avoid problems that shoes may cause, you’ll need to avoid some types of shoes.

Do Babies and Toddlers Need Shoes?

Babies and toddlers may look so cute dressed up in their adorable little shoes, but are shoes really necessary?

It is unlikely that your baby or toddler will be encountering the same conditions that older children encounter on a daily basis. They might need something to cover their feet for comfort when cold or protection when walking in a rough area.

As babies and toddlers use their barefoot feet, it helps them develop muscles, balance, dexterity, awareness of surface areas, and healthy foot development. It should also help with neural connections between the foot and the brain.

So, most of the time, shoes just aren’t necessary or helpful for foot development. Barefoot baby feet are a natural way to healthy foot development.

How to pick the right type of shoes for babies?

Babies have more sensitive skin than most adults. Make sure that the brand which you choose or the shoe which you are picking for your baby is flexible and comfortable as well.

Make sure to differentiate which shoes are healthy vs less healthy for your baby. I recognize that babies won’t be using their shoes very often, but if they can, they should be able to move freely without their shoes hindering that movement.

Babies’ feet are developing and need shoes that don’t constrain or mold feet into shape. A baby needs to develop muscle in the toes and feet, and can only do that using their feet and a natural and normal manner.

If shoes prevent the normal movement of the feet, including toes, it will likely cause less muscle development and may cause the cartilage that is developing into bones, to develop differently than normal.

A baby will need very soft shoes. They have cartilage and baby fat that supports their feet need to use their feet, just like their fingers.

The best shoes for babies will use soft fabric or glove-like material. (Amazon Link) There should be several options available for you to choose from.

School Aged Children

Babies and toddlers may not need shoes, but school-aged children usually need to wear shoes that cover their entire feet. Every day, children fall and hurt themselves. Shoes help prevent injury to the feet.

I think it’s a good idea for everyone to take their shoe off when they get home. Feet need contact with the ground to obtain feedback to send to the brain. This is helpful for balance, muscle development, and biomechanics.

Children’s shoes should be snug but not tight, should allow the toes to move freely, and have a flexible sole.

A stiff sole doesn’t allow for natural movement of the foot. A sole that is too soft, isn’t giving the foot a lot of feedback and might not allow the foot to develop all the muscles naturally.

So it’s best to have plenty of time for children to go barefoot in safe conditions because shoes, in general, are limiting in one way or another.

14 Tips for Choosing Shoes

1. Shoe Size

As a parent, you may want to buy a shoe size that is larger than your child’s foot measurement. (Amazon Link) I think this can be a good piece of advice, depending on the circumstances.

Larger shoes will need to fit correctly, though, and that might be difficult. You might consider thick socks and checking the snugness of the shoe when tied or strapped on. Make sure there’s no slipping or rubbing while the shoe is worn.

2. How to pick the best shoe?

There are many shoe brands available in the market. Just go to or other online stores and you’ll see a vast number of shoes.

You may find that babies and toddlers have a more limited selection of shoes. Baby shoes tend to be cute and many look like adult shoes in some ways.

Children’s shoes are sometimes healthy and sometimes unhealthy for children’s feet. You may find many attractive and healthy shoe brands online (Amazon Link) and in retail markets.

The following points can be helpful to consider while selecting the brand: sole thickness, toe box, toe wiggle room, overall construction/quality, comfort, durability, brand history in making children’s shoes, and fashions vs function.

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03/11/2024 07:54 pm GMT

3. Child Specific

Looking for brands that cater only to children will likely help you find a healthier shoe for your child. Look for brands that have shoes for babies, toddlers, and school-age children, and ask the staff about shoe brands.

You can research the brand that is making children’s shoes (Amazon Link) and see how long they have been around. The longer the brand has been around, the more likely they will know how to build the best shoes for kids.

This may be an indicator of the trustworthiness and quality of the brand. If they’ve invested a lot into children’s shoes, the hope is that they are making an effort to build quality and healthy shoes for children.

4. Durability

While your child may not be using their shoes very long, getting a high-quality shoe can be helpful. Check and see how they stand up to bending and pulling. See if the seams and glue holding things together seem to be in good condition.

Tip: A well-known brand will usually offer you long-lasting durability. Less-known brands are less known.

5. Flexibility

After checking the durability, the next thing to check is the flexibility.

When checking the sole, make sure it isn’t too stiff. Also, check to see if the sole is very different from their previous sole. The foot and body may take a couple of weeks to get used to something that’s a big change.

Children move around a lot and should be able to move about naturally. Their shoes should allow free movement.

I’ve seen some children stubble and fall because their shoes were awkward to wear and didn’t allow for flexible movement in their feet.

Children aren’t always aware of the inflexibility of their shoes. Some will stumble while running. They just can’t seem to get the balance they need.

While this may not always be the shoe’s fault, shoes do play a factor in balance and feedback for natural walking and running motion.

6. Sizes

You’ll need to choose the right size while buying children’s shoes or selecting a brand. Every brand may have variations in size. It’s best to try it on before purchase if possible.

7. You Choose, Not Your Child

Shoe brands may have multiple designs for different age ranges. Don’t necessarily let your child choose their shoes based on their interest.

Try to find 2 or 3 shoes that you approve of and then allow your child to choose from these choices.

Quality and healthy options should outweigh style. Hopefully, the designs available and quality will give you enough options to treat your kids to the variety they are looking for.

8. Shoe Designs

When picking the right kind of shoes for your child, make sure the material will allow for proper foot development. Check for very flexible materials for babies and toddlers.

Their feet are not developed yet, so they need to have as much natural use of their feet as possible.

As the feet grow the soft cartilage will be replaced by bone, but it takes a while. Even as a teenager, bones are growing and feet are taking shape.

Finding shoes that support the natural biomechanical movement of the feet can help increase foot health (Amazon Link) and overall joint health in much of the body since everything starts with the foundation, the foot.

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03/10/2024 09:07 pm GMT

9. Materials and manufacturing

The next big thing to focus on is the material used in the shoes. You need to consider whether your child is allergic to any material or not.

In addition, check things that may matter to you. Is it man-made material or natural materials? Is the sole rubber, foam, or both? Are there shoelaces or velcro? Is the upper material mesh or thick material?

10. Colors and Patterns Can Play Tricks on Your Mind.

For children 0-12 years old, there is a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from.

Keep in mind that not all shoes are made for foot health. They are trying to attract you with what your child’s interests are.

You can find several shoes that are designed with your child’s interest in mind. From TV and movies, to video games, a shoe may be available with popular themes on them.

You’ll find shoes so cute, you have to get them. Just remember the golden rule: feet will do as their shoes tell them to.

Unless your child has some foot problems, find shoes that will help them use their feet the way feet are normally supposed to function.

Finding healthy shoes may not be so practical with school-aged children. But do your best to find flexible-soled shoes that allow the toes to splay or spread out.

And when your child gets home, insist that they take their shoes off so they can develop healthier muscle, arch, and bone development.

11. Try Them for a Week

Shoes may or may not work well. The best option is to have your child try the shoes for a while and see how well they walk and run in them.

In order to choose the best option, you need to define how healthy the shoe is and how well it functions for your child.

If it doesn’t seem like the right fit for your child, return them and try something different.

12. Comfort fit

Make sure your child can walk comfortably in the shoes during your trial period. It’s best to sneak a peek at them wearing their shoes without you watching to see how they are reacting to them when no one is looking.

After a week, if they are showing no signs of discomfort, then the shoes should be fine for a while.

Check to see if it is a snug fit. A snug shoe will help a child walk or run easily and find a better balance. If possible, choose a shoe with a large toe box so the toe can splay or spread out while walking and running.

If you’re not sure about the size your child wears, go to the store and try on a few shoes. As long as the shoe is snug and doesn’t rub or slip while walking, a larger size is OK to buy.

While buying online, look at reviews and find if the shoe runs small or large.

13. Room for Toes

Toes are an integral part of your feet; they need to have a proper room that will help your foot walk accurately.

The problem with shoes is they are not able to let your feet do the same things they can do when you are barefoot.

Make sure to pick up a shoe style that is wide enough in the front, or toe box, so your toes can both wiggle and splay.

These water shoes (Amazon Link) seem to indicate that a child’s toes have plenty of space to move naturally.

You may have seen some running shoes with thin soles and individual toe sections. This allows runner’s feet to run in a more natural way, which studies say is better on their feet and knees in some ways.

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03/10/2024 10:06 pm GMT

14. Insole

When you are choosing your child’s shoes, check out the insole. Decide if it is comfortable.

The insole should be comfortable when wearing the shoe.

Many are made of foam and give the foot cushion and support. This may sound helpful, but remember that children need to use their muscles and feet, and insoles may take away a little too much feedback and use of muscles since the shoe is cushioning instead of the arch.

If the insole and sole are doing too much of the job that the foot is supposed to do, look at other shoes and compare.

The last thing to look at is your child’s walking ability in different shoes. How well can they balance and run in these shoes?

When Should I get a New Pair of Shoes for My Child?

It may be difficult to decide when you should get new shoes for your child, especially when you just purchased a pair a couple of months ago.

Here are a few helpful tips for when to get new shoes for your child.

  • Their foot no longer fits comfortably in their shoe, with toes wiggle room.
  • The sole is broken or torn. You can also try shoe glue.
  • If mildew or mold is growing in the shoe.
  • If the shoe no longer protects the child’s foot in some way.
  • The shoe is no longer comfortable to walk in.

Try your best to keep track of your child’s foot changes. One idea is to get a piece of paper and trace your child’s foot on it with a pencil.

After a couple of months, retrace the foot and see what changes may have occurred. After a year, you can post the tracing and show everyone how much your child’s foot is growing.

Shoes vs Barefoot

Shoes are meant to protect our feet for fashion, sports, and work. Children may need sporty shoes as they play on sports teams and run at school.

We want to keep their feet from getting any injuries and prevent stumbling. A good pair of shoes will do a good job with protection and support.

In order to help with healthy foot development, it’s important to let them walk barefoot in safe conditions.

Walking around inside the home or safe areas of the backyard will encourage healthy muscle and arch development. The beach and other safe areas you’re familiar with are great places to walk barefoot.

A newborn or toddler should have lots of time to walk barefoot. Confining their feet in shoes that constrict a natural foot’s biomechanics is not helpful and may create problems later on in life.

Thinking about how much time your baby and toddler will be wearing and using their shoes should help you make the right choice and give you the ability to help them develop healthy feet.

Make it a Habit

Most people must wear shoes wherever they go. Society has made it mandatory and for good reason. Shoes protect.

I believe it is helpful to adopt the idea of wearing shoes, but only when necessary. Children will develop the habits we teach them. If we make it a habit of taking off our shoes as much as possible, they will be making a habit for themselves that can last a lifetime.

Foot care starts in infancy and continues throughout our lives. Some foot injuries occur when we haven’t developed the proper foot muscles and haven’t practiced using our toes while walking.

Toes are just like fingers in some ways. The more we use them, the better they can function to support proper walking and running. But if they are in a restrictive shoe, it’s like tying them together.

I imagine I couldn’t do nearly as much with my fingers if they were held together for eight hours a day.

That is why it is important to avoid shoes that may cause foot problems over time, if possible.

Next time you’re putting your own child’s feet in their shoes, consider if this is the best environment for their development.

A child who can walk easily without falling may have been the one who usually had their shoes off 90% of the time.

Their feet, muscle, and balance were developed naturally, and once they arrived at school, their ability to participate in athletic games and exercise was above average due to the feedback their feet gave to their brain.


When you are getting shoes for your child you’ll find shoes with laces, velcro, drawstrings, and other devices to tighten the laces. (Amazon Link)

The option to have your tie their own shoes can be very helpful, especially if they’re at school and may not have anyone available to help them tie their shoe.

Any option should be fine. Children need to understand that their shoe needs to be snug, not tight. They need to be able to tie or strap their shoes by themselves when they are more independent.

There are different ways to help children learn to tie shoes. One site I like is Ian’s Shoelace Site. If you are looking for different ways to help your child more easily tie their shoe, then try Ian’s.

How to Teach Children to Tie Their Shoes?

On average, most children (4-5 years old) can tie their shoes within a couple of weeks of consistent practice. But some children will not learn to tie their shoes for a year if the practice isn’t available.

Consider that some children haven’t developed their finger strength yet. Let them do activities that develop finger muscles, like drawing, writing, working with playdough (Amazon Link), and helping dig in the garden.

If your child needs practice, you can set up a routine. Have a certain time of the day, each day, where they will have time to practice and the assistance they need.

Soon, they will be able to tie their own shoe and will not want your help anymore.

Step by Step

Tying shoelaces can be tough. Try breaking it down so that children can do step one first, and then, if they have mastered step one, go on to step two.

Finger muscle memory will start to develop over time, so teaching them the right way first is important; otherwise, they may be stuck doing it wrong over and over.

It’s a good idea to make it easy for them, and you’ll get quicker results.

Demo it

Shoe how you do it with your shoelaces. Then, show them step one. Help them grab the laces and manipulate their fingers the same way you do.

Use specific wording so it’s clear what to do next. You may need to have a lesson on the finger names before you start.

If you have a picture guide for tying shoes, this may be helpful for some children.

Let them practice

Try to set a limit on the time you help them and the time they practice by themselves. If they are frustrated, it’s usually a good time to stop for a bit.

Give them encouragement that they can do it, and let them know it may take a couple of weeks to get the hang of it.

Once they are tying by themselves, continue to praise them. If they need help later, decide what the issue might be and set up a time to help them with their issue.

One Pair or Two

Once you’ve purchased shoes for your child and have gotten to know that these shoes are ones you trust, you might consider getting another pair (article) that is a size or two bigger.

You’ll save time and when your child is ready, they can switch right away without having to wait.

In addition, you might want another pair when your child’s shoes get dirty and can’t be used for a day or two.

Clean Shoes

Clean shoes might not be a priority, but dry shoes should be. Don’t let your child wear wet shoes for too long. Problems will occur with their feet, and shoes will start to get moldy if they remain wet too long.

To help clean their shoes and dry them, you could try the washer and dryer. This might not be the best for the shoes, but it is one of the fastest ways to get it done.

Place the shoes in a towel. Then, put the towel in a pillowcase. This way, you can both wash and dry their shoes without too much damage to the shoe. Just make sure to use a dry towel and pillowcase when drying wet shoes in the dryer.

Try this article for tips on washing and drying shoes.

Bottom Line

Selecting the best shoes for kids involves a lot of personal choices. Choosing healthier shoes will give your child more opportunities to develop healthy feet.

The best shoes are ones that you’ve carefully studied and decided are going to protect and help your child’s feet develop.

Thanks for visiting

Related Questions

Where to find good shoes?

The best place for specific information about shoes is usually a shoe store. You can study the shoes and they will likely have employees with knowledge about shoe brands. Some stores, like running shoe stores, have more information about specific shoes and foot health.

Is walking barefoot good for you?

Yes. Walking barefoot will help your foot and leg muscles, your arch, balance, natural range of motion when walking and running, better mechanics of movement in knees and hips, and improve some foot problems.


I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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