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Shoe shopping for toddlers

The American Podiatric Medical Association and Stride Rite

The American Podiatric Medical Association and Stride Rite offer tips on how to find the best shoe for your child. Credit: Handout

Walk into a children's shoe store and you'll be bombarded with just as many colors, styles and brands as adults.

I remember thinking before I had my daughter that I couldn't wait to take her shoe shopping. But what I thought would be a fun, easy-to-decide experience, just left me baffled about what type of shoe I should buy for her.

Recently, I took my 18-month-old daughter, Maggie, to the nearest Stride Rite shoe store. I knew I wanted to get a pair of sneakers for the fall, as well as a pair of fancier shoes for her to wear with skirts and dresses. I was in awe of all the different varieties.

The salesman, with the patience of a saint, measured Maggie's foot, explained the types of things I should look for in a children's shoe and suggested a few shoes. I left the store with a pair of sneakers, dress shoes and boots!

To help you get the most out of your children's shoe-shopping experience, I gathered some important facts from Stride Rite and the American Podiatric Medical Association for you to keep in mind. Take a look:

-- Children's feet change with age. Shoe and sock sizes may change every few months as a child's feet grow.

-- Shoes that don't fit properly can aggravate the feet. Always measure a child's feet before buying shoes and watch for signs of irritation.

-- Never hand down footwear. Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn't mean it will fit another the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete's foot and nail fungus.

-- Examine the heels. Children may wear through the heels of the shoes quicker than outgrowing shoes themselves. Uneven heel wear can indicate a foot problem that should be checked by a podiatrist.

-- Take your child shoe shopping. Every shoe fits differently. Letting a child have a say in the shoe buying process promotes healthy foot habits down the road.

-- Always buy for the larger foot. Feet are seldom precisely the same size.

-- Buy shoes that do not need a "break-in" period. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Also make sure to have your child try on shoes with socks or tights, if that's how they'll be worn.

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