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Today’s Hint: Have Your Child Wear Used Shoes

A friend of mine recently shared a hint for how she saves money on her 14-month-old daughter’s shoes: She buys them at a local used kids’ clothing and toy store. “Since kids grow out of shoes so fast, I buy used shoes for a lot less” than their new counterparts, she says.

My friend’s daughter isn’t the only one with used shoes. Mine too has a slew of used designer shoes (including adorable Tiny Toms sneakers and Crocs sandals). She received them for free from our friends, who passed them down from their daughters.

Still, before I put the used shoes on my tot, I had to do a little googling to see if it was okay to have my daughter wear used shoes. I know that some people can’t afford anything but used shoes for their children. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was better for little cruising and walking feet to be outfitted in brand new soles, assuming parents can afford them.

Online, the jury seemed to be out. One Mom on BabyCenter.com said her family’s pediatrician told her shoes mold to feet so “it is especially important to not have used shoes for babies and toddlers.” Other parents online similarly advised against used shoes. “Everyone’s foot shape is a bit different and everyone walks a bit differently thus shoes get worn in ways that aren’t ideal for other users,” writes one such parent. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, blogger Miser Mom, who buys used shoes for herself and her children, refutes such arguments.

With so much conflicting information, I did what any reporter would do and I went to the experts. Denise & Alan Fields, the authors of Baby Bargains, which is the Consumer Reports of baby gear in my opinion, told me that used shoes are fine for toddlers in most cases. Their reasoning, which is the same as my friend’s: “Toddlers tend to grow out of their shoes in such a short time,” meaning “they don’t usually wear them out” and the shoes are still good to go for future little feet. And in my opinion, the same logic would also apply to older kids, whose feet also grow really fast.

Meanwhile, the always helpful nurse at our pediatrician’s office, who I also reached out to, agrees: “If the shoes fit and have nice soft soles, I have no problems with hand me downs,” she wrote to me in an email.

Of course, there are some caveats to this hint. First, make sure any used shoes are only gently used, i.e. “in good condition without a lot of wear on the soles,” the Fields say. And note that some podiatrists do recommend against hand-me-down shoes, while others say used shoes are fine as long as they aren’t worn out and have been washed. You also may want to rotate the used shoes in with other models (shoe rotation is recommended in general to help keep your feet healthy).

Still, assuming the used shoes you bought or received for free aren’t totally worn out, I say let your little one wear them without any guilt or second guessing, and enjoy the money saving. But of course, if a blister starts forming on my daughter’s foot from the Tiny Toms, I’ll probably rethink this saving strategy.

What are your tips for saving on shoe costs?

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  1. says

    I recently looked at shoes at a second-hand store and was surprised at how many brand-new shoes there were. If your child is just starting to walk, you can find lots of shoes that might have been worn, but weren’t walked on (1 year olds and under). While I prefer to purchase new shoes for my toddler because I don’t trust the condition of used shoes, shopping at second-hand stores for shoes can get your great deals on brand new or almost brand new shoes that do not have worn down soles.

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