Tuesday Tips: Buying Children's Shoes
It never fails. Every time I take my 4-year-old daughter shoe shopping, she always makes a beeline for the sandals covered in pictures of Disney princesses or Dora the Explorer. I don't have anything against Cinderella and her crew but those shoes never look very durable to me. I guess it's too many tiaras on a leather strap for my taste. So I tapped the expertise of Jackie (she wanted her last name withheld), who owns Bradshaw's Children's Shoes, an Arlington establishment that's been around since 1834. She had a few tips for buying shoes for children:
Tip #1: Don't even think about buying your child a pair of shoes until they've taken some steps on their own. Yes, it's so tempting to buy that teeny tiny pair of Mary Janes for your infant but they'll only serve as decoration. They're not even necessary for babies who are attempting to walk. Wait until they've taken a few steps on their own.
Tip #2: The first pair of shoes should be flexible, stable and fit perfectly, Jackie says. And that first pair of shoes doesn't have to be the classic white baby shoe that eventually gets turned into a brass bookend in the family library. Just try to stay away from sneakers with thick soles. They won't be flexible enough for new walking feet. And the popular soft-soled shoes that look like leather socks lack the stability that new walkers need. "Good shoes have nice bottoms that help them balance," Jackie says.
Tip #3: Expect your child to go up a half-size every three months for the first two and a half years of their life. After that they'll be going up a half size every four to six months. That pace may not even slow down until they're about age 6.
Tip #4: Getting the right shoe for your child is based on both a professional shoe measurement that can be done at a shoe store and a lot of parental intuition. "Not every shoe goes well with every child," Jackie says. Have the child do a few laps around the store. You'll be able to gauge in a few minutes whether the shoe will work for your child's foot. The child's big toe should be an adult's thumb-width away from the front of the shoe.
Tip #5: Consider shelling out the money for a pair of nice kid's shoes if you know your child will be wearing them nearly everyday. They'll last longer and may even hold up enough for younger siblings. You can turn to cheaper sources for secondary shoes that they're not going to wear as much.
Tip #5: Even if you buy all of your child's shoes from Target, visit a shoe store every few months to get the child's foot measured. That way you at least know the correct size to buy.
Tip #7: If you find a pair or brand of shoes that has worked well for your child, stick with it and buy larger sizes as your child grows. But shop around, even on the Internet, to find the best deals.
Where do you buy your kid's shoes? Have you ever bought them online? What are some other tips for buying children's shoes? Post a comment below.
Also, I'm looking for some stories about renting unusual items. We all know you can rent movies and cars but some companies are offering handbags and jewelry for rent as well. Have you done this? If so, please e-mail me about your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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