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14th Oct 2023

HerFamily readers share advice for parents with a toddler who won’t keep their shoes on

Jody Coffey

If you’re a parent to a toddler who prefers to walk through life barefoot, this advice may prove useful for you.

While we welcome any child embracing the earth beneath their feet, it can be a stressful thought when you imagine what else they may end of trailing over.

Some kids love the idea of new shoes, others want to kick them off as soon as the laces are tied. So, what can you do to ensure your little ones feet are protected?

Some of our trusted HerFamily readers have parted with some seasoned advice that will help keep your toddler’s feet safe even in the event they take them off.

One reader’s solution may target any unidentified pain that could be the source of a child’s dislike to shoes:

“Try little boots the shoes might be hurting around the edge,” they suggested.

While another reader – who has been through the same thing – recommends giving into the child’s wishes when you can:

“If she’s in a buggy don’t bother putting them on her and have gripper socks on for if she wants to walk in shopping centres. My youngest 2 just about survive wearing their shoes in school all day. The second they are in the car the shoes are off.”

Gripping socks seem to be a trusted alternative if your child is going through a no-shoe phase, and one that will likely get a thumbs up from your barefoot-loving baby.

“You’ll just loose them. Socks all the way with little grips on them,” they advise.

Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive (HSE) outlined a number of guidelines that may help in the longterm when it comes to choosing shoes.

First and foremost, they recommend looking closely at your child’s feet as they are walking in the shoes, this will help identify if the shoe is causing pain.

The HSE say there are three things to make sure of:

  1. the shoe is not slipping up and down at the heel
  2. their foot is not being pushed out of the shoe at the back
  3. their socks or tights are the right size

When it comes to sizing, the HSE advises that there should be approximately 1cm of space at the end of the toes and to always have their feet measured by a professional before buying any new shoes.

This will help avoid a situation where the shoes are too tight, which can stop the foot from growing correctly.

Support is key when deciding on what shoes to purchase. A flexible show will have a heel that has a solid back. One way to determine if a shoe has this flexibility is by testing the shoe by squeezing, as you should not be able to squeeze the sides together or push the back down.

If you can twist the sole easily, the shoe is too soft and will not give enough support to the foot, therefore options to buy a shoe that allows your child’s foot to bend should be avoided.

For children with wide feet, make sure that the front of your child’s shoes are wider than at the heel. A good tip is to avoid shoes with pointy toes as these can make it harder for their toes to move.

The same caution applies to shoes with smooth soles. Making sure your child’s shoes have enough grip on the bottom of the shoes will prevent them from a slipping accident.

The HSE also lists a number of shoes parents should avoid buying for their children. These include:

  • very flat slip-on shoes such as ballet flats
  • high-heeled shoes – if the shoe has a heel, make sure it is very small
  • sheepskin-type boots, rubber clogs and jelly clogs
  • shoes that need to be ‘broken in’ – this means they were not properly designed or not properly fitted for your child’s feet

They also pinpoint slip-on shoes, while pretty to look at, as being a source of pain when walking long distances for children. This is due to the shape of the shoe as it can make children clench their toes.