Skip Hand-Me-Down Kids Shoes!

Oct 30, 2022

Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that hand-me-downs definitely make life a lot easier and more affordable! After all, kids outgrow clothes, toys, strollers, and just about everything else at warp speed. Getting bigger sizes for free from family and friends often makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, this is a bad decision when it comes to shoes. Why? Finding proper support for your child’s growing bones and making sure they’re comfortable is a top priority for both their health and their well-being. Read on to find out why you should skip hand-me-down shoes!

Reasons Why Hand-Me-Down Shoes Are a Bad Idea

1. Shoes Adapt to Their Original Owner

Many shoes are designed to form-fit your child’s feet, preventing foot and joint pain and providing personalized support for the wearer. If your child starts wearing someone else’s shoes, they lose out on the customized comfort they could be getting from new shoes.

Everyone’s feet are different, so wearing shoes that have form fitted to another child’s foot will always bring more foot pain than comfort. This reason alone is one to prevent you from wanting to reuse shoes because doing so will prevent foot pain for your child. 

2. Shoes Have a Limited Shelf Life

Shoes are designed to protect and support your feet, and when they start to wear down, they can’t do that job very well! This is why hand-me-downs can be so problematic for children, who need proper support for their growing bodies.

They also just wear down, period. Midsoles and insoles get compressed, soles lose their traction, and the shoes just can’t provide the level of cushioning and support that your little one needs.

Although kids might sometimes outgrow their shoes before they wear them down completely, the younger child getting the hand-me-down is still getting compromised footwear that may not be able to protect their feet properly for the full length of time that they’ll be wearing them.

Many shoes that you can find at a thrift store or that your older child has already worn have usually reached their shelf life. Shoes should not be worn until they are literally falling apart. If the shoes are falling apart, the support and cushioning have already long been gone. 

3. Shoes Can Harbor Viruses, Bacteria, and Fungi

If you know the basics of bacterial growth, you know that dark, warm, and moist environments are perfect for growing fungi, and sometimes even viruses! When you pass hand-me-down shoes from one kid to another, the child that receives them is that an increased risk of these unpleasant infections.

This is true even if the older child has no obvious foot problems, as different kids can react differently to exposure for various reasons (including whether or not they have any breaks in the skin for a wart-causing virus to enter).

Fungus can continue to grow in shoes, just like in public pool areas and locker rooms. The best way to protect your kid’s feet from infections is to start with a new pair.

Sleeping baby next to hand-me-down baby shoes

The Exception: Baby Shoes

Most very young children don’t have much running around to do like their toddler counterparts,  so if a pair of baby shoes are in good condition and shows no signs of forming to another child’s feet, they’re probably okay to be hand-me-downs.

For toddler shoes, exercise good judgment. Often for kids just learning to walk, we recommend that they go barefoot indoors (to help with foot development) and only wear shoes for outdoor protection. So they may outgrow their shoes with very little wear and tear.

Otherwise, you should ditch old shoes once their previous owner has outgrown them, or if they start to show signs of use.

Finding the Right Shoes for Your Kid

Now that you know why you should just get rid of those old shoes, here are some tips to follow that are important to consider when shopping for new shoes for your child:

  • If possible, have your child try on the shoes in the store. Ask them questions about how the shoes feel and if they hurt anywhere while they are wearing them. Plus, your child may appreciate being involved in the decision-making process.
  • Buy shoes regularly, to ensure that their feet are getting proper support.
  • Make sure they fit properly with a little room for growth. Leave about a thumb’s width of wiggle room between the front of the shoe and the longest toe.
  • Examine the heels. Slide your index finger down to the second knuckle between the heel and the back of the shoe. If it’s too tight, they are not the right fit.
  • Watch for signs of irritation.
  • Buy shoes that offer plenty of arch support and heel cushioning.
  • Shop for shoes later in the day, when they’ve been standing and walking for a while.
  • Consider the specific activities your child will be engaging in. You can ask a shoe store employee to help you find the best fit for your child’s sports of choice.
  • NEVER buy shoes that are too big for your child’s feet. You may think you’re being smart by getting shoes they can “grow into,” but the truth is that shoes that are too big can be just as damaging as those that are too small.

Find Expert Pediatric Foot Care at Patel Podiatry

Need support in finding the right shoes for your child’s precious little feet? Skip the hand-me-downs and let our team at Patel Podiatry help you invest in your child’s foot health.

If you have any questions about your child’s foot health, you can count on our team of experts at Patel Podiatry to steer you in the right direction. Contact our Connecticut offices by calling us to make an appointment:  203-876-7736 for Milford, or 203-288-4055 for Hamden. You can also use our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.