I know how busy parents are today. I’ve got three—one just graduated from high school!!—and believe me, without the internet, I think we’d be sending them to school half-dressed some days. Truly, online shopping is a blessing for working families. Except, that is, when it comes to shopping for your kids shoes!

  Kids Feet Grow Quickly

Why is it a problem to buy children’s shoes online? There are several reasons. First of all, children’s feet grow at a steady—and unpredictable—pace. So that means a size that fit well even three months ago may not fit now when you click on the reorder tab on your computer. So many parents come in to our office with their children complaining of foot pain or ingrown toenails. And many, many times, one of the biggest contributors to those problems is shoes that don’t fit.

Children Aren’t Shoe Experts While these shoes obviously don't fit, spotting when your kids' shoes don't fit can be tough to do at home

  But can’t you rely on your kids to speak up if their shoes don’t fit? That answer can be very tricky, as it turns out. Obviously, very young children can’t describe if and where their shoes hurt—that’s where an expert in a shoe store can help you purchase an appropriate pair.

But even older kids may not be trusted when it comes to their shoes. I suspect that my 10-year old son would suggest his shoes fit perfectly if they were cool and the last pair available online. Now, as a podiatrist, I could quickly call him out. But for parents who may not know what to look for when it comes to fit, it’s wise to shop in a store, with assistance.

  There’s More to Fit Than Just the Length

How hard, you may be thinking, is it to check if your child’s toes have room at the end of the shoe? Well, smarty pants, there’s more to fit than just the length of a child’s foot in his or her shoes. Kids with flat feet need more arch support, and may also need wide-sized shoes to accommodate their spreading feet.

Of course, many parents don’t know what kind of foot their kids have—but a trained professional in a children’s shoe store will spot irregularities and point you towards styles designed to accommodate their unique anatomy.

And even once size and style is determined, you have to consider that every brand’s sizes fit differently. The only way to determine the exact pair you purchase will fit? Trying them on before you purchase. And that option is only available in a brick-and-mortar store.

But, wait…there’s more…

You also want to observe the way your children walk in a pair of shoes. And, what’s the best way to check their gait? You guessed it! Watching them walk through the aisles of a shoe store, under the gaze of a trained observer!

So, here’s the bottom line: I’m all for the time-saving blessings of online shopping for clothes, toys and last-minute birthday party gifts (oops, that invitation totally got buried in my inbox!) But when it comes to kids’ shoes? Do me a favor, and shop local! Your children’s feet—and local small business owners—will totally thank you! Of course, no matter what the shoes, if your child is experiencing any foot pain, contact Houston pediatric podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for an immediate appointment.

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