Dr. Reddy's Pediatric Office on the Web TM

Shoes for Children

Choosing good shoes for your children can be hard -- and not just because of the variety of cartoon characters that decorate kids' shoes. The design of the shoe itself can make a big difference to how your child's feet develop, and choosing the right shoe can make a difference in later life as far as foot problems are concerned.

The foot develops best in people who spend their entire lives walking barefoot. There are six advantages to walking barefoot:

The main reason why people wear shoes in developed countries is to protect the feet from hazards: these include both sharp objects (nails, for example) and the surfaces we walk on (there is no concrete in the wilderness), as well as objects that may fall on or hit our feet. (As another example, no one in their right mind works in a hospital barefoot.) The style issue is, or should be, secondary, but many modern shoes look like they are designed to create foot problems. In particular, shoes that raise the heel compromise gait and may hurt the ankle, and you are much more likely to develop corns and bunions with pointed-toe shoes. Shoes such as Birkenstocks (which, I admit, are just about the only shoes I wear at work) may look clunky to some people, but they are shaped much more like the foot than most "stylish" shoes -- and they do come in children's sizes.

When shopping for children's shoes, keep these things in mind:

My thanks to Kalli Doyle, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan, for providing much of the source material for this page. For those of you interested in more information, a good reference on children's shoes is "Shoes for Children: A Review" by Lynn T. Staheli (Pediatrics, vol. 88, pp. 371-375, 1991.)

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PLEASE NOTE: As with all of this Web site, I try to give general answers to common questions my patients and their parents ask me in my (real) office. If you have specific questions about your child you must ask your child's regular doctor. No doctor can give completely accurate advice about a particular child without knowing and examining that child. I will be happy to try and answer general questions about children's health, but unless your child is a regular patient of mine I cannot give you specific advice.

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Copyright © 1998, 2006, 2007 Vinay N. Reddy, M.D. All rights reserved.
Written 04/08/98; last revised 05/07/07 counter