Usually, autumn is a hot season in shoe stores selling sneakers. When I worked in one of New York specialty stores for runners, the fall was the time when athletes were training hard for different fall marathons. But when I was a high school student I worked in a general store, located in the New York suburban area, which was selling sneakers for all ages. And every fall that store was filled up for another reason – back to school shopping.
Parents were coming with their children, who have outgrown their old sneakers and needed new ones for team sports, gym class, or just for playground activities. My job was to recommend them a pair of sneakers that would fit well and last long enough to go through the entire school year. Back at these times, my expertise and advice were limited to making sure kids do not make a mess in the store, averting them from Heelys, and making sure, they do not even approach to roller-blades section. There are many issues to consider when choosing kids’ sneakers. To determine the key points parents should look at I spoke with three kids’ shoe experts. Below is the list of their recommendations new walkers, elementary school students, and rising-talent athletes.
Best sneakers for kids 4 years old and younger
Jennifer May, an expert in kids’ footwear who has over over 25 years of experience, as well as the founder of Kidshoeology, recommends the Jamie sneaker, made by Stride Rite, as a good fit for beginning walkers. The rounded edges ensure high stability and reduce risks of stumbling and falling. This model is available in three different widths. Being encouraging the natural movement, due to their simple style, these sneakers perfectly match the criteria for choosing children’s shoes, outlined by Dr. Doyle, from the Hospital for Special Surgery. As she says, the best kids’ footwear should encourage a child to be barefoot. She also recommends purchasing a breathable pair with a good fit, flexible, with high support and protection.
Stacey Fauci, the owner of Runnin’ Wild shoe store, recommends the Old Soles high-top sneakers for little kids’, which are very popular at her store. This nice-styled model is made of soft leather, are crafted with Velcro and rubber sole, which make them easy to put on and walk around in.
These shoes made of canvas and manufactured by See Kai Run Company from Seattle, WA, are also worth checking out. As Fauci says, these sneakers are one of her best sellers for several years. Being stylish and having a soft sole, this model is a perfect choice for first walkers. Moreover, they are designed to be a little wider. Many children have wide feet, as May says; therefore, they would feel very cosy and comfortable in these spacious shoes.
Best sneakers for kids between 4 and 8
While choosing the footwear for younger children, it is important to make sure the shoes are easy to put on and take off, says May. These stretchy Velcro clasps make these two processes easier for kids. She really likes these pull-on Nike sneakers with a couple of elastic straps, which fix the shoe on a foot. We like the adult version of sports shoes for women, and this children’s model has as just as many funny color options.
At Fauci’s shoe store Nike sneakers are the favorites among the customers too. We remember the experts advise to look for shoes that are securely fixed on the feet. Therefore, this stylish model, crafted with kid-friendly and easy to use Velcro clasp, which will comfortably stay put on during the whole school day, is a perfect choice for your little child.
Doyle emphasizes the comfort fit and affordability for shoes kids will eventually overgrow. At the same time, she makes an exception, talking about children who are playing sports on turf sports fields. The knobbles on these Puma turf shoes have a lower profile and clustered much closer, compared to the regular cleats, developed for playing on grass. Shoes for turf fields produce much less torque, and, therefore, the risk of getting knee dislocation is reduced substantially, says Doyle. And, even though it might get quite pricey, it is worth for parents to get turf cleats in addition to regular ones, especially if your kid is going to do sports on different types of surface.
These well-made shoes, offered by New Balance, come with several widths, and, as May states, are perfect for kids with wide feet. The knit pair looks very grow-up is almost identical to the handsome looking adult version.
Best sneakers for kids between 8 and 12
Unlike the barefoot style sneakers, which Dr Doyle recommends for the youngest children, she agrees that as kids grow older and get closer to the adult body weight parents may purchase shock-absorbing footwear, like traditional shoes for jogging, that equally distributes children’s body weight all over the sole. When kids get to middle school age they often start a track, cross-country or other running-related sports, this more specialized footwear reduces the risk of stress fractures, as well as helps to prevent calluses. Asics shoes, that apply the same amortization technology the leading adult shoe brands use, is a great option for active kids of this age.
When they get closer to the end of elementary school children start caring about the looks and aesthetic of their footwear. According to May’s opinion, Adidas products are perfect in terms of style. She recommends this flexible and breathable stylish model. She also believes that it’s okay to let a kid to choose a pair of shoes basing on their looks, as long as their choice in functional enough and fits well. This approach, Doyle says, is correct even for every fifth child having flat or collapsed arches. The wrong thing to do is to buy shoes that accommodate flat feet. The suggested Adidas model is a good option.
The knit shoes with their sock-like fit, suggested by Puma, as Fauci says, are considered being trendy among older children. Their pull-on fitted styles require more agility than younger children can manage by themselves, therefore, this model is recommended for kids of 8+ years of age.