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Replacing Athletic Shoes Depends On Child's Growth, Shoe Wear

The problem with hand-me-down or used athletic shoes

The Problem With
Hand-Me-Down and Used Shoes

If new shoes are required due to foot growth, and you are considering hand-me-downs or used shoes, consider:

  • Whether they are too worn to offer adequate support?

  • Whether the shoes have become so adapted to the original owner's feet that they may actually have a negative affect on someone else's foot structure. Compressed cushioning inside the shoe may have molded to the first person's foot, causing problems for the new owner, including arch pain from not enough arch support, and blisters.

Cindy Trames, Director of US footwear for Nike, says that replacing shoes and deciding whether they can be handed down to another child, depends on the child's growth rate and the amount of shoe wear.

Ages One To Three

Kids in this age group, Trames says:

  • Outgrow their shoes 4 times in a year. From the time a child begins walking (around age 1 and a children's size 5) up until a children's size 10, he outgrows his shoes about four times a year. As a result, it often makes more sense for you to buy seasonal shoes in slightly larger whole sizes than to worry about half sizes, since your child will inevitably outgrow them in a short period of time.

  • Outgrow shoes before wearing them out. Because a child's feet are growing so fast, they don't have time to wear them out before they need to get new ones.

  • Leave good hand-me-down shoes. Because a child this young outgrows his shoes so fast, they will most likely received very little wear affecting the structure of the shoe. As a result, they leave ideal shoes for handing down.

Ages Four To Eight

Kids this age (from size 10C to 3Y), Trames says:

  • Put more wear and tear on shoes. Kids in this age group begin to put a lot more wear and tear on their shoes. The shoes get scuffed and beat up more as kids begin such activities as riding bikes.

  • Outgrow their shoes about every 6 months. Kids outgrow their shoes less often.

  • Leave shoes less suitable for hand-me-downs. Because of the increased wear and tear, the shoes "might be so worn out you can't hand them down," warns Trames (see box).

Ages Nine To Twelve

According to Trames, kids in this age group:

  • Outgrow shoes about every 12 months. 8 and 9 year-old kids (at the top end of youth sizes and moving into men's and women's sizing) may outgrow shoes every 12 months instead of every 6.

  • Wear shoes out before outgrowing them. This is an age when athletic use tends to become heavy. Kids may begin to develop favorite shoes that they don't want to part with. It becomes especially important for parents to keep an eye on the condition of their kid's shoes.

The Teenage Years

In the teen years, Trames says:

  • Foot growth slows.

  • Increased hormones cause sweat and odor. Teenagers "have the whole glandular thing going on," says Trames, "resulting in more sweat and odor in their shoes."

  • Shoe wear and tear is high. "At this point kids become hard on all their clothes, and their lifestyle may be putting a high level of wear and tear on their shoes, since they serve many roles, including school and higher-level athletics," notes Trames.

  • Special shoes just for sports are recommended. "It may be best for these kids to have shoes exclusively for sports and to be keenly aware of when the shoes need to be replaced," she says.