At What Age Can My Child Wear High Heels?

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Sure, this is a cute look...but heels outside of dressup are damaging to a child's feetYou just have to take one walk down the “kids” section of any clothing store these days to know that children are dressing more maturely than ever these days…but how far should we be carrying that trend. I mean, even if it’s super-cute, is it really ok to let a three year old rock a pair of stilettos?

Here’s my thoughts (and they happen to be backed up by the American Podiatric Medical Association): Dress up is one thing, but if we’re talking about selecting shoes that kids will actually walk in, I’d take a hard pass on heels for any little kid or even tween. 

According to Footwear News, Dr. Ramona Brooks, a spokeswoman for the APMA, suggests waiting until kids are between 14 and 16 years old — if not longer—to try out that first pair of heels. “By this age, the growth plates have fully closed and feet have stopped growing. Also, the muscles in the legs and feet are well-developed to be able to tolerate greater stress,” she says, taking care to remind parents that heels can contribute to a number of problems, including lower back pain, shin splints, ankle sprains and fractures, bunions and hammertoes.

Of course, even once they have completely stopped growing, children aren’t completely safe wearing heels. The off-kilter soles can affect both posture and your center of gravity, making trips, falls and resulting injuries all the more likely.

Finally, as both a podiatrist and a father, I have this last thought to share. Childhood is for running, playing, learning, growing and having fun. Our kids don’t get that many years to enjoy these simple joys. Why would we want to prematurely put them in shoes that make the business of childhood more difficult? If your kid loves fancy shoes, it’s not a big deal to try on a pair here or there for limited periods of play…maybe allow for an hour or so in one special pair, for a special occasion. But if we’re talking about really wearing heels? Just like texting and driving…it can wait!

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.