Here in Houston, even when it's not summer, we basically always enjoy summer weather. And that means you need to start planning ways to keep kids’ feet safe for the season's typical activities.
Why are hot days outdoors risky for kids feet? Well, Summer means lots of sweaty outdoor play. Not to mention about camp, pools, and lots of other fun.
Now, that adds up to lots of fun. But it also means your kids have a higher risk of athlete’s foot from sweat. Plus, they need to worry about other foot fungi from unclean pool decks. And foot pain and/or ankle sprains from less supportive, open-toed footwear. Sadly, the list goes on and on.
Want to avoid some of these kids’ hot weather #footfails? Follow these 5 simple rules for kids’ summer foot safety.
1. Match the shoe to the activity.
When water shoes or aqua socks are recommended, use them. First, that will protect kids feet from cuts and bumps when walking on rough surfaces. But it will also keep them covered on wet surfaces. Which means less chances of developing a foot fungus. But what about days when sports are on the agenda? In that case, your child will need to wear a supportive athletic shoe. Ideally, one that fits perfectly because you shopped for it in person. Those last two points are non-negotiable. Both because they will help avoid a lot of summer pitfalls. AND because they will lead you right to my next rule…
2. Don’t put your kid in flip-flops (except by the pool or in the shower).
Flip-flops spell big trouble for kids--and adults--feet. First, they slip off easily, which causes kids' feet to grip unnaturally to keep them on. In turn, your kids may develop foot cramps and discomfort. But that's not their only trouble. These open shoes also don’t protect your toes from falling objects or even just the sidewalk. Add in their loose fit, and the higher chances of kids slipping in flip flops, and that can spell big trouble. A side note here. Flip-flops are the worst for kids feet. But Crocs are pretty bad too. I've devoted many blogs to the problems with these ugly rubber shoes. But I'll summarive here. They bend too much, which means they don't give enough stability. And they often fit loosely, which means more slipping and gripping for kids' feet.
3. DO opt for socks.
I'm kind of famous for saying it all starts with the socks. But it's more than just a catchphrase. After all, socks could be the most important thing your kids put on their feet this summer. Why is that the case? Well, kids should wear socks whenever possible for a few reasons. First, they can absorb sweat from those little feet, helping prevent Athlete's foot. Plus, they create a blister-preventing barrier between the shoe and skin. Back in the day, we used to say cotton socks were best. But, today, I actually recommend mositure-wicking athletic socks, instead.
4. Check sizes at the start of the season.
Just like smoke detector batteries, you need to regularly check in on your child's foot size. While last summer’s sandals may still technically fit on his or her foot, chances are they aren’t fitting optimally. Heck, the shoes that fit last week might not fit a few days later. After all, Kids feet can grow unnoticed . Especially during the brief Houston winter, where e use any excuse to wear roomy boots. That's why it’s a good idea to measure kids' feet every few months. Especially before deciding on your summer shoes, because…
5. Comfort is a top priority.
Any shoe your child wears should feel good the first time and every time he or she puts it on. Forget breaking-in periods. That is not something you should account for when selecting your child’s footwear. Because this rule is so important, I really hope you can shop for shoes in person with your child, and not online. I know that Zappos offers free shipping both ways. But I also know that once a cute pair of shoes makes its way into your house, your kid may feel attached. So, even if the shoes doesn't fit, he or she may say it's a great fit, just to hold on to a favorite style. To stay safe, hit the shoe store together. Get those feet measured (see my previous rule.) Then, make sure the trained sales associate approves the fit before making any purchase. Before we wrap up here, I do have to give a side note on fit. Lots of kids have feet that are different sizes. So, how do you ensure a comfy fit in this situation? Always match the shoe size to the larger foot. Then, use the tips in the video at the top of this page to make the other shoe fit properly, too.
Pediatric Foot Wellness in Houston
After my musings on socks, I have another well-known saying. And here it goes. Foot pain is not a normal part of childhood. Despite what they say about growing pains, your kids feet should not hurt for more than a passing minute.
So, if your child is experiencing any foot or ankle pain, here's what needs to happen. Don't wait to get it checked out. Or to see if it goes away without intervention. Instead, schedule an appointment with me, your Houston pediatric podiatrist. When you come in, I'll do a comprehensive evaluation. That way, we can get to the root of problem that's hurting your child's feet. Then, we'll get it solved as quickly as possible!