Beyond the backpack: Back-to-school shoe-shopping tips to keep kids healthy and parents happy

tips to keep kids healthy and parents happy

For parents faced with kids’ changing tastes and opinions, navigating back-to-school shopping can be a harrowing process. Buy him the wrong backpack, and he’ll be the uncool kid on the bus. Pick out the wrong jeans for her, and she’ll be shamed by society. While neither scenario will cause kids any real harm, there is one area of back-to-school shopping where a wrong move could have health ramifications for kids—shoe shopping.

“Foot health is directly related to overall health, no matter your age,” says Dr David Deiboldt, DPM, a podiatrist at The Beltsville Foot and Ankle Center and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Proper footwear is essential to foot health, so it’s important for parents to ensure kids go back to school with a good foundation on their feet. Shoes are one of the most important back- to-school purchases parents will make.”

Children’s feet change and grow with them, and parents may find they need to update their kids’ shoes and socks every few months to accommodate this growth. Shoes that don’t fit properly can irritate the feet and affect how well a child walks, runs, and plays.

APMA offers parents some advice for finding shoes that are good for kids’ feet and also live up to their
exacting tastes:

Avoid buying shoes that need a “break-in” period. Footwear should be comfortable right away. Once the school year is underway, keep an eye on your child’s shoes—active kids may wear out
footwear faster than adults. Be vigilant for signs of irritation, such as your child always wantingto remove one or both shoes. The footwear may no longer fit properly, especially if it’s been a
few months since you bought the shoes.

Finally, be sure children wear shoes that are appropriate for their activities. “If your daughter plays sports, she should wear a good athletic shoe designed for that sport,” says Dr. Deiboldt. “If your son is a runner, he’ll need a good running shoe.”For daily wear when kids do a lot of walking, choose a good, supportive shoe. Keep sandals, flip-flops, and heels for occasional wear only.

If your child complains of foot pain or experiences an injury, take him or her to a podiatrist. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat ailments of the feet.

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