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Buying Your Kid's First Shoes

It starts from the first steps.

When it comes to your kids shoes, getting them off on the right foot isn't just a good idea, it's an investment in their future.

The Early Show's Laurie Hibberd reports it's a big day for Zachary Taub. At 11 months, he's getting his first pair of shoes.

"He can walk if I hold his hand with one hand," his mother says. "He'll walk with me and he cruises. He's not walking by himself."

But it seems that could change at any minute. Actually, Zachary decided to take his first steps before the camera.

Good timing!

David Hill, the manager of Harry's Shoes says, "Once the child shows any inclination to walk, standing, that's the time to really start exploring the shoe possibility."

When you do start exploring, finding a shoe that fits is the most important thing.

Dr. Steven Shelov says, "The damage that could be done by an ill-fitting shoe is that the child will be reluctant to walk. It'll hurt when they walk. And the growth of the foot might be changed because the forefoot, the front of the foot would be, lets say, kept in a position that is not allowing it to grow."

So the shoe needs to fit, but with room to grow. According to experts, the rule of thumb is well, the thumb.

Hill notes, "A thumbs worth should be enough for growth."

But whose thumb?

"My thumb" Hill says laughing.

By anyone's thumb size, Zachary's right foot is bigger than his left so he needs shoes that fit the bigger foot.

And the salesperson notes those shoes will only fit him for two to three months tops.

"Really? Wow. OK," says his mother. If she sounds concerned, it's probably because kids shoes are big bucks.

Hill says, "Our price points will range anywhere from $40 to $50 on infants and first walkers and second walkers."

That is lot for most people in this country, but Hill says, "You also have to bear in mind that shoes are medicinal. So it's an investment in your child's health. It's not like you're buying a $300 outfit that the child will outgrow in 3 months, and what purpose did it serve besides looking cute? When you invest in a shoe you're investing in your child's health."

But, according to Dr. Shelov, chairman of pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, it's not an investment that should get handed down to the next child.

"I don't really believe in hand me down shoes," Dr. Shelov says, "Certainly not in the first or second year when they're really walking. Your children - first time walkers and certainly even as they grow, they have their own individual feet sizes. And they best be measured for new shoes and be placed in new shoes. I think thats money worth spending."

So here are Hibberds best tips for buying kids shoes:

  1. Never go shoe shopping after school hours or on weekends
  2. Always bring a couple of toys and snacks to keep them distracted
  3. Always bring your kids with you when you're buying shoes for them.
  4. If your child kicks their shoes off a lot its a good indication that the shoe doesn't fit.
  5. Ask your shoe store to send you a reminder when its time to get new shoes.

Most parents and experts Hibberd talked to tend to shy away from buying shoes at places that don't have a professional on hand to make sure of a proper fit. It's all right when the kids are older, but not in the first five years.