What to look for when buying


The Fit

Pay attention to the shoe’s proper length, width and depth when fitting your child’s shoe. Poorly fitting children’s shoes can cause toe problems, ingrown toenails, hammer toes, calluses and bunions.

Children’s feet grow in spurts, and they require new shoes every three to four months. Most early toddlers (under 16 months of age) grow more than one-half a foot size in two months. Toddlers from age 16 to 24 months grow an average of one foot size (0.5cm) every three months. The young child, 24 to 36 months old, grows approximately one foot (0.5cm) size every four months, and children over 3 years of age experience increases of one foot size (0.5cm) every four to six months.

Remember, shoes should be comfortable from the start. If new shoes need to be “broken in,” it means either they were not properly designed or not properly fitted for your child’s foot.

Measure your child’s foot from the top of the longest toe to the end of the heel. If one foot is longer than the other (quite common among children), then measure the longer foot. Then check the size chart. The child’s feet in centimentres refers to the insole length of the shoe. E.g. if your child’s foot is 14cm, the corresponding size should be EUR size 22. The allowance has been made in the size chart.


A Wrong Sized Shoe May…

result in a child trudging or reluctant to run. Although many Asian parents like to buy bigger shoe sizes for their children, it is really not encouraged as this causes stress on the child’s feet while running. The child has to use more energy to lift the foot and this may result in falls or worse, the child may start to dislike running. When a child takes off running happily in his new pair of shoes without any hesitation, you know you have bought the right sized shoes. A wrong sized shoe will cause a child to reduce or stop activity altogether.


Second-Hand Shoes May Adversely Affect A Child’s Feet (And Legs) Development

We all love to share our used baby stuff with our friends such as bottles and clothes. However, shoes is something that is greatly discouraged, though not many parents are aware of this. A pair of shoes that has been worn will have the corresponding feet impresses that are formed from the child’s gait (walking style/impact points). Every person’s gait is different. Hence if a child wears a pair of second hand shoes that are very different from his/her gait (impact points), this could result in falls, or more invisibly, a change in his gait which could adversely impair his feet development. Foot sprains may not be apparent in children (as compared to adults wearing a pair of wrongly gaited second-hand shoes), as the bones on their feet are still very soft. But long-term wearing may cause the feet (and legs, in order to balance the impact of the shoes) to be formed not as nicely as a good, new pair of shoes would. And such “ugliness” will only be apparent when the child is older, and cannot be reversed.


How A Child’s Feet Are Formed

The foot is a complex structure comprised of 26 bones. These bones are designed to support the entire body, adapt to uneven surfaces and absorb shock. A baby’s foot contains more cartilage than bone, which, over time, will fuse and harden into adult bones. Although the structure of the foot develops fully by the first 2 years, the bones themselves will not fully develop and harden until around the age of 18. This is why it is crucial to have good shoes early on, so that the bones are allowed to develop naturally.


Shoe Construction

Shoes consist of four parts: the upper, the insole, the outer sole and the heel.


Upper Part

The upper part of the child’s shoe should be made of leather, canvas or the newer mesh materials. Children’s feet perspire heavily, and the upper part of their shoes should be made of breathable materials. Leather or canvas allows the foot to breathe. Avoid man-made material, such as plastic.




Make sure the insole is made of absorbent material. Raf Raf’s padded insoles provide support and aids to absorb the impact when children run in the shoes. Most children do not need a special arch support. All toddlers younger than 16 months have flat feet and only fully develop an arch by the age of 6 to 8 years. Raf Raf Insoles are breathable and can be washed.


Outer Sole

The outer sole provides traction, cushioning and flexibility to the shoe. It also protects the feet from sharp and dangerous objects on the ground. Outer soles should be flat, made with rubber or materials with patterns or grooves to make it non-slippery. Some outer soles that are too thick can make young children clumsy and cause falls and should be avoided. Conversely, outer soles that are too soft (e.g. only a leather lining) can cause the child to develop tiptoe walking, as they are unable to place their feet firmly on the ground. It is a fallacy to look for extremely light shoes for children. Look for soles that are firm yet flexible, soft yet not overly flimsy.



Toddlers do not need heels on their shoes. Flat outer soles make it easier to begin walking. Older children from 7 years old can wear shoes with heels, but they should not be too high (taller than one inch), as tall heels can cause the foot to slide forward and cramp the toes against the inside of the shoe.


Children’s Foot Problems

During the first several years, your child’s foot continues to take shape. At this time, problems such as flat foot or high arch may become noticeable, but usually no specific treatment is necessary. If severe, these problems may be symptoms of other, more serious conditions and your child may need a physician’s examination and diagnosis.


Here are some of the more common developmental foot conditions: