Growing up, I went shoe shopping much less than I should have. I was a pain to shop with, and my parents didn’t think shoe shopping was the best way to spend their time and money. But as we grow older, we come to terms with how important shoes really are.
As adults, shoes are an investment in our wardrobe, because our feet will likely be able to accommodate a few different pairs of shoes. This is not the same for a child, because their feet grow, and grow… and grow some more. So what's a parent to do?
Well... Start scouring sales, that's what. When you see a sale on a brand of shoes you like, pick up a few sizes for your baby. You may be spending more at one time, but at least you’ll be ready when it comes time to size up - and you would be glad to know that you didn’t need to pay the full retail price.
You may find that the best sales are not announced. Buy shoes off-season to find deals that even seasonal sale prices can't beat. Buy boots in the hot months, sandals in the cold - and definitely don't forget to size up!
Loyalty pays. Stores and brands often have rewards programs for those who buy their products. If you have a preferred brand of footwear, try to ask about any loyalty programs the store or brand may have. You may be able to get discounts of 10%-20% with each purchase.
Learn how to stretch out shoes. I know you've had shoes that seemed to be a smidge too small - we all have. You may or may not have been the person who accepted their fate and wore those mini-torture chambers. I prefer to take a different route. As shoes get worn, they become roomier due to the pressure our body puts on the inside over time. Shoes, if kept clean, can survive prolonged wear because of this. When they begin to become tighter, a combination of heat, and a good amount of stuffing, whether it be with socks, newspapers, etc., will also make a shoe roomier. When they become tighter still, replacing the inner padding with a thinner alternative, can also add a small amount of space, further prolonging the wear. This can usually save you from sizing up about half a size, or even a full size if you’re lucky… but you will eventually need to trade up.
Try one pair at a time. Find a versatile enough pair of shoes, with comfort, and a look that can pass at a handful of occasions, and invest in them. After all, it is unlikely that your child will be in their shoes constantly. Experts concluded that the best way for a baby to move around, learn how to walk, stand, etc., is in socks or completely barefoot. A shoe is not the most natural way to help a young one’s feet grow accustomed to their new movements, considering the extra weight, and additional inches added onto the foot. Babies, if indoors, or in places where footwear isn’t necessary for comfort, should lose the shoes. Not only will this help the maturation of their actual foot, but preserve the shoe as well.
Hand me downs. I know the subject at hand is footwear, and I know you don’t love the idea of putting your baby in any sort of not pristine article of clothing - but think about it. There are tons of babies out there with parents that know your struggle. We also just learned that babies don’t need to, and shouldn’t, be wearing their shoes all the time. Odds are you’ll be able to find a pair of shoes, in good condition, from your circle of friends. Time to put that social capital to work!
If that fails, try looking for a nice pair at a Goodwill or consignment store. If you come across a pair in good condition, you can have your child try them on for size and voila - you just paid a fraction of the retail price.
All in all, remember that splurging on something as ephemeral as children's footwear is not worth anybody's while. Take everything into consideration, and go through all your options before you make that full price purchase. Most of all, never forget to cherish every size up - because in the end, no matter how much you managed to save, they really do grow up too fast.