As you child begins caring about the type of footwear he wears, you might be in for some battles over what is safe. While sandals are a convenient choice for a day at the beach or pool, wearing them all the time increases your child's risk of injury. You should keep sandals as a footwear choice that's appropriate for short periods or eliminate them from your child’s wardrobe.
Typical children’s sandals offer little protection against potential injury. With sandals, your child’s toes are exposed making them susceptible to falling objects, sunburns, injury from someone stepping on the toes or scrapes and bruises from the feet slipping out of the sandals inadvertently, according to pediatrician Mallika Marshall, in a report on CBS's "The Early Show" titled "The Dangers of Flip-Flops ... In Footwear!" Additionally, Washington, D.C., podiatrist Howard Osterman, in a "Washington Post" story titled "The Podiatric Dangers of Flip-Flops," said that during summer, he will see at least one patient a day that sustains an injury because of wearing sandals.
Poor Foot Support
Many sandals -- especially flip-flops -- are made of thin plastic and offer little support for your child’s growing feet. Wearing poorly made or cheap sandals can lead to foot pain, tendonitis or even plantar fasciitis -- a painful inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot, according to both Marshall and Osterman.
When your child wears flip-flops or other backless sandals, she has to grip the shoes with her toes constantly to keep the sandals on her feet, according to Auburn University biomedical graduate student Justin F. Shroyer, who was quoted in "The Washington Post" article. Shroyer studied 39 flip-flop wearers and found that the action of gripping the toes on the shoes might result in shorter steps and strain on muscles in the legs and back.
Slip and Fall
In addition to the other health risks of wearing sandals, backless sandals also put your child at risk of slips and falls. In fact, many school districts are now banning backless-sandals from the dress code in the name of child safety, including Seymour High School in Connecticut. The lack of backs on sandals might present a danger to active children who love to run, jump and play when a sandal inadvertently slips off, causing injuries such as sprained ankles or a bare foot stepping on rocks.
The Right Shoes
Ideally, you should choose shoes that cover your child’s toes, offer good arch and heal support and have backs to protect your child’s growing feet. If you are looking for a quick shoe option, look into ballet flats, boat shoes or other shoe options that don’t require socks or your help to get the shoes on your child’s foot.
- CBS News: The Dangers of Flip-Flops ... In Footwear!
- The Washington Post: The Podiatric Dangers of Flip-Flops
- Good Housekeeping: Choosing Safe Shoes for Your Child
- New Haven Register: The War on Flip-Flops: Seymour H.S. Bans Backless Shoes, Students Put Feet Down In Protest
- The New York Times: Summer Flip-Flops May Lead to Foot Pain
- Kane Skennar/Digital Vision/Getty Images