Dr. William Knudson has worked in the field of podiatric medicine since the 1990s. Having seen many patients with painful foot problems, he says that good foot care begins at a young age. By educating parents on the basics of proper foot care, Dr. Knudson believes he can help kick off a pattern that will lead to foot health throughout a child’s life. Today, Dr. William Knudson addresses a few of the most common questions he gets from parents who visit Podiatric Care of Northern Virginia.

Q: How can I tell if my child’s shoes fit?

Dr. William Knudson: Obviously, having your child’s feet measured is important, but also check for excessive wear. If the sides of the shoe are worn out, it may be a sign your child needs a shoe with an increased width. Once a shoe’s toes or heels begin to show major signs of wear, it’s probably time to buy a new pair.

Q: My child’s feet are growing so quickly. Can’t I just buy larger shoes, knowing in a few months they’ll fit?

Dr. William Knudson: While this may be a tempting alternative, shoes that are too large can hamper a child’s ability to learn to walk. Invest in one good pair of shoes that fits well and works for multiple occasions, like tennis shoes, and replace them as soon as your child outgrows them.

Q: One of my child’s feet is larger than the other. Which size should I use?

Dr. William Knudson: Always go with the larger foot. In most cases, one foot is at least slightly larger than the other. In the case of extreme size differences, I recommend the parent special order shoes that are two different sizes.

Q: My friend has shoes her child has outgrown. Are secondhand shoes okay?

Dr. William Knudson: While secondhand clothing is a great alternative to the expense of child’s clothing, shoes are one area where parents should buy new. Bacteria can spread through shoes, as can plantar’s warts. Spend the extra money for a new pair.

Q: Most adult shoes have to be broken in. Is that the case with children’s shoes?

Dr. William Knudson: Not at all. With children, especially infants and toddlers, it’s important that the shoe is comfortable right away. The key is to encourage your child to walk and, later, be especially active. Uncomfortable shoes can sideline a child.

Q: How can a parent tell if a child’s shoes are uncomfortable?

Dr. William Knudson: Sometimes the child will say so, but if not, there are other telltale signs. Does the child often remove one or both shoes? Are there visible signs of trauma to the skin after wearing the shoes? Look for blisters and red marks at the end of each day.

Q: Is there a particular time of day that is best for shoe shopping?

Dr. William Knudson: When it comes to trying on shoes, the later in the day, the better. Feet swell during the day.

Q: Is there a specific type of shoe I should stay away from?

Dr. William Knudson: In the early years, slip-on shoes can be a bad idea, since toddlers learning to walk may easily trip on them. Open-toed shoes can also be problematic for children, since they don’t provide protection against things being dropped on the feet. We see a lot of patients who have suffered the negative effects of walking around with no foot protection. I recommend tennis shoes, but I find many parents know instinctively the best shoes for their particular child.

Questions for Dr. Knudson? You can email him at drknudson@pcnvonline.com