When you are shopping for shoes for your children, you might be inclined to select the most affordable or cutest option. However, this overlooks a critically important detail, which is whether the shoes are going to provide for healthy foot development. The right shoes should: Choosing proper footwear for children

  • Breathe
  • Support growth
  • Prevent painful foot issues
  • Be high quality
  • Ensure comfort
  • Promote mobility
  • Allow adequate room between the toes and the top of the shoe
  • Be replaced as often as every 3-4 months

When to See an Austin Podiatrist

If you notice your child doing any of the following, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist right away:

  • Toe walking past the age of two
  • Walking with their feet turned significantly inward or outward
  • Having ingrown toenails
  • Not yet walking at 15 months old
  • Complaining of foot or ankle pain

These may signal more serious foot issues, and rapid treatment could reduce the severity of problems they experience later and possibly even prevent the need for surgery.

How an Austin Podiatrist Can Help

The award-winning podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists treat many pediatric patients. We can help children in a variety of ways:

  • Diagnosing potential foot issues
  • Monitoring areas of concern over time
  • Creating an individualized treatment plan to manage pediatric foot conditions and help prevent the condition from becoming worse
  • Helping to prevent sports injuries; treating sports injuries
  • Providing patient and parent education to help prevent issues before they start
  • Recommending footwear that will be well-suited to your child’s unique needs
  • Fitting patients who have specific foot and ankle conditions with custom orthotics

Common Pediatric Foot Problems

We treat numerous foot issues in children and adolescents in our practice. The most common among these include:


This is a condition that does not normally require intervention in children unless it is causing problems or creating pain. We would typically recommend monitoring the situation and being aware of any serious problems that could be contributing to your child having flatfoot.

Ingrown Toenails

Any person can develop an ingrown toenail, but one is more likely to occur if the person wears shoes that are too small or too tight, if they experience foot trauma, or if their nails are trimmed too short or rounded. Our office can help provide relief for this painful condition. The early symptoms of ingrown toenails include puffiness and redness in the skin around the edge of the nail, tenderness to the touch, and possibly pus.

Sever’s Disease

Sever’s disease most commonly occurs in teenagers, especially if they are athletes. It is the result of the heel bone and its connective tissue growing at different rates.

Plantar Warts

These growths look rough and grainy and most commonly appear on the toes or soles of the feet. You might see tiny black dots on them that look like seeds. There may be some pain, tenderness, or discomfort if the wart is in an area on the foot where significant weight is applied.

Sports Injuries

There are many different ways that a young person can hurt their feet and ankles while engaging in athletics. Many injuries are a result of overuse or trauma. We can discuss ways that may help your child prevent some of these injuries by giving you information on proper stretches and conditioning. We can also diagnose and treat injuries that do occur to help reduce how much time your child has to spend recovering. Some of the most common sports injuries we see are:

  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sprained ankles
  • Fractures
  • Stress fractures
  • Turf toe

The Right Shoe by Age

Buying the right shoes for your child is not always easy. Not only should the shoes promote foot growth, they should be appropriate for the child’s age and level of development.


Typically, a child who is too young to walk does not need to wear shoes. A pair of socks is all that is required. If you feel the need to put them in shoes for family pictures or a special event, you want to ensure that they are soft-soled fabric shoes. Be sure to remove the shoes as soon as you can. Even for older children, it is ideal for them to remain barefoot when they are indoors, as this will strengthen their foot muscles and prevent later injuries.

Older Infants and Toddlers

Once a child has started to walk, their shoes should:

  • Be made with non-skid soles
  • Have room for their toes to wiggle while fitting snuggly on their heels
  • Be made out of soft materials like leather
  • Have high ankles so their feet cannot easily slip out
  • Have Velcro or be slip-ons for easy removal

Preschool-Aged Children

As a child enters preschool, they should have lace-up shoes, so they can start to practice tying their shoes and getting them on and off by themselves.

The Right Shoe for the Activity

If your child gets involved in sports, you will also need to select footwear that works well for that activity. Although a child might be able to play soccer, football, or other sports in the shoes they wear to school, doing so increases their chances of being injured. Be sure to pick shoes that have been designed for that specific sport.

Shoes to Avoid

The following types of shoes are likely to cause problems for children and should be avoided in general:

  • Flip flops
  • Crocs
  • Overly large or too small shoes
  • Shoes with smooth soles that have little traction
  • Pointy-toed shoes
  • Shoes with a slightly raised heel
  • Second-hand shoes, even if they are in good condition
Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist