Is it OK for kids to wear second hand shoes?

When kids grow out of their shoes so quickly and good shoes can be very expensive to buy, second hand shoes and passing shoes down from one child to another seems like a good option.

However there are a couple of things you need to bear in mind as the shoes your little one wears in childhood can make (or break) their future foot health.

So yes, whilst it’s ok for kids to where second hand or pass me down shoes in most circumstances, here’s what to check for before they start wearing them, so you know whether they can be worn safely or really need to be thrown away.

General wear and tear

  • How worn are the second hand or pass me down shoes? Generally babies and crawlers don’t get much use out of their shoes, partially because their feet grow so fast, but also because they can’t walk or run around so much as older kids. However toddlers shoes are likely to have seen more wear and tear, with lots of everyday running, jumping and tearing around.

 Inner sole wear

  • Have the inner soles adapted to the original owner’s feet? Most shoes form to the foot, so wearing hand-me-downs with compressed cushioning or shoes that have already been "formed", may have a negative effect on your child’s foot.  
  • Pop your hand inside the shoes and see if you can feel toe imprints or heel dents. If you can, avoid these shoes as your little one’s feet will have no choice but to try and fit into these spaces a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.  Not ideal for soft, growing feet. 

Outer sole wear

  • Soles need to be in good condition, no worn down edges, holes or obvious breakdown of the rubber or leather.  Your child needs a flat, soft and bendy sole for their foot health. 
  • Look for signs where the previous owner had a tendency to walk on the inside or outside of their foot. Shoes with this type of wear and tear will put stress on your little one’s feet and should be thrown away. 


It’s important that the second hand shoes are clean before your little ones starts wearing them, inside and out! You don't want to share any nasties, especially if you don't know where the shoes have come from.

Check out these cleaning tips*:

Inner soles

  • Many leather and canvas shoes have removable inner soles which means they can go through the wash. If they don't have a removable inner sole and they are not too dirty, just give them a wipe with a cloth and some detergent or something to kill the germs. 
  • You can use baking soda to help get rid of the smell, but it won't get rid of the germs. You can also use a small amount of hand sanitizer (not too much as they are often alcohol based) or disinfectant spray. Unscented is great if you can get it, if it's scented you will have to live with the smell! 
  • Avoid alcohol based products as they can soften the glue.

Outside of the shoes

  • With leather shoes, creme cleanser and a damp cloth will clean the outside really well, even white leather comes up a treat. Most little shoes should be soft enough not to need moisturising or conditioning after being washed. However you can always use a specially formulated shoe moisturiser or hand moisturiser to help soften them.

Very dirty shoes

  • With very dirty leather or canvas shoes, the entire shoe can be hand washed in a bucket or put through a gentle wash in the washing machine (although this maybe a little harder on the shoes). Use cold water only and a soft detergent such as a wool wash or face wash so as not to strip the shoes’ natural oils.

Drying your shoes

  • Don't use direct heat to dry the shoes and try drying them in the shade or in the hot water cupboard. Take them out whilst they’re a little damp as you don't want to dry them out completely as this will make them hard. Pop the shoes onto your little one’s feet as soon as you can so they can mould and soften up straight away.


  • Try to have two pairs of leather shoes on the go so you can alternate them daily and let one pair dry out completely before re-wearing the other. This helps to stop them growing smelly and reduces their wear and tear. 


  • If your little one seems to have problems with their feet or with walking, take them to a paediatrician for a check up. Wearing second hand or hand me down shoes may not be an option for them as they may need to wear specific shoe styles.

* These cleaning tips apply to genuine leather shoes and are based on Bugalugz personal experience. The tips are to be used as a guide only as the same outcome on all shoes cannot be guaranteed. 

February 27, 2019 — Stephanie Wilson

Fitting First Shoes – helping your kids put their best foot forward

Your child’s feet have to carry the weight of their body throughout their lifetime, and the shoes they wear in childhood can make (or break) their future foot health.

The bones in a child’s feet are formed from soft, pliable cartilage which doesn’t solidify into bone until approximately 5 years of age. During those crucial first few years the foot needs as much room as possible to grow and form naturally, without being moulded by ill-fitting shoes.

Neglecting foot health invites not only future foot problems, but also problems in other parts of the body, such as the legs and back.

Barefoot is best

Barefoot walking helps form our balance, movement systems, and posture for life. It’s essential for natural development of baby feet, and experts say that a child's foot will develop more naturally the longer he/she is allowed to walk without shoes, so let them be barefoot as often as possible.

Barefoot may be best, but there are some times when shoes are important – for warmth, for protection, and also sometimes for decoration. Use shoes when necessary, and for those times make sure you choose good-quality shoes that fit your child’s foot properly.

Measuring your child’s feet

To find out the correct size shoe for your child, you need to know the size of their feet. The fastest and most efficient way to measure little feet is by getting them to stand on a piece of paper and drawing lines at the front and the back of their foot, and then measuring the lines. If your child isn’t standing yet, apply pressure to the foot when drawing the lines, as the foot spreads quite a lot with weight on it. Make sure to measure both feet as they’re likely to be different lengths.

Allow enough ‘wiggle room’

You may have heard of the ‘rule of thumb’ when buying your shoes – it’s the rule that there should be a thumb-length between your toes and the end of the shoe (which is approx 12-16mm). For little kids, that’s just too much length at the end of a foot which might only be 12cm or so, and the extra length creates a trip hazard.

We recommend adding 5mm until their feet reach a length of about 15cm or they’re walking confidently. Once they reach that 15cm mark you can start adding a full 1cm and then rounding up. (Rounding up means 5mm or 1cm is the MINIMUM amount you should add for ‘wiggle room’).

Ignore shoe sizes

Now you know what size feet your child has, you can look for the right size shoes. However as an Austrian study found that 97% of marked shoe sizes are wrong (some by up to 2cm), you can’t rely on the marked shoe size. The inner length measurement is the ONLY measurement that counts.

To find the inner length measurement, take a tape measure with you and physically measure inside the shoe - or if it has a removable sole, you can pull that out and measure it.

Remember that the inner length measurement you’re looking for should be at least 5mm longer than your baby’s longest foot length.

They look quite big, is that right?

Once you’ve bought the right-sized shoes, you might put them on your toddler and think “Gosh, they look big”. That’s NORMAL. By the time your baby turns one, their feet will be almost half of their adult foot size.

This means that little feet shod in good-fitting spacious shoes can look rather large. It’s very hard to buy dainty toddler shoes, and for good reason – toddlers don’t have dainty feet. This is a much more serious problem for little girls, and as a result women tend to have four times as many foot problems as men in later life.

By all means choose the cutest shoes you can find, but without compromising on space for your child’s feet to grow properly. Expect them to look a little big for your child. It’s perfectly normal.

What to look for in a good-quality pair of shoes:

  1. They should be foot-shaped

Most toddler feet are shaped like that cartoon footprint – with a narrow heel, wide front, and spread-out toes. So shoes should be the same shape – narrower at the heel, with plenty of room and width in the toe area, a secure fastening, a supportive heel cup (the heel is the only place a shoe should ‘fit’ the foot), and obviously a flat heel.

  1. They should be breathable

Strangely, kid’s feet sweat twice as much as adult feet. This excess sweat means they’re more susceptible to blisters, slipping in their shoes, and stinky feet! That’s why you should only choose socks and shoes made of breathable, absorbent material such as cotton, canvas or leather. Avoid synthetics as they encourage sweating, and don’t ‘give’ much so they tend to rub more.

  1. They should be flexible

Shoes need plenty of flexibility so children can bend and flex their feet naturally. Make sure shoes have lightweight flexible shoes that will allow good freedom-of-movement for your toddler – the sole should bend easily to at least 55 degrees at the ball of the foot.

A toddler trying to walk in hard soles ends up doing that horrible clumping flat-footed walk because their feet simply can’t bend naturally. In general the softer the sole, the better – as softer soles are more like walking barefoot.

  1. They should have a back – even summer styles

Avoid backless styles as they force the foot and toes to curl to keep the shoe from falling off. With backless styles (including jandals) walkers are forced to take shorter steps, and toe muscles are constantly activated, so it alters how we naturally walk. A well-fitting shoe should be fastened onto the foot so that it follows the foot in ANY movement, without needing effort from the foot to keep it on.

Kid’s feet grow like weeds, so measure measure MEASURE

Everyone knows that children's feet grow fast, but infant feet grow the fastest of all. That’s why it’s SO important to measure your child’s feet – and the inside of their shoes – at least every season, but preferably every month.

Consider yourself lucky if shoes last a season! We know that can make it very expensive, but it’s better to have good-fitting ‘cheap’ shoes than too-small ‘expensive’ shoes. Price is not always an indicator of quality.

As the central nervous system isn’t fully developed yet so your child actually can’t feel when shoes are squashing or damaging them – it doesn’t hurt – so YOU need to be the one that checks if they fit properly. So measure often, and measure both the feet AND the current shoes to make sure they still fit. You need to increase shoe size BEFORE your child’s toes touch the end of the shoes.

The 20th pair of shoes is just as important as the 1st

First shoes are important, but so is every pair of shoes until your child is at least 5 years old. Choose good-quality well-fitting shoes for the first 5 years of your child’s life, and you’ll set them up for a lifetime of healthy feet.

February 27, 2019 — Stephanie Wilson

The 5 B's of choosing healthy kids shoes

Find out how to choose healthy shoes for babies, toddlers and pre-school kids in 5 easy steps.

The shoes they wear in childhood can make (or break) their future foot health.

Neglecting kids foot health invites not only future foot problems, but also problems in other parts of their body, such as their legs and back.

The 5 B’s of choosing healthy kids shoes

So what makes a great shoe? 

Check out these 5 pointers before you buy your little one’s next pair of shoes. 

  1. Kids shoes need to be BENDY
    • The soles on your kids shoes need to be flexible enough to allow their feet to move naturally when they're walking.
    •  Soles should bend to at least 55 degrees. 
  1. Kids shoes need to be BREATHABLE 
    • Kids feet sweat twice as much as adults feet, so be sure to choose shoes made of breathable materials like leather. 
  1. Kids shoes need to be BROAD 
    • Having plenty of room and width in the toe of your little one’s shoes lets their toes spread and anchor, allowing the natural ‘spread’ of their foot. 
  1. Kids shoes need to have BACKS 
    • Avoid buying backless shoes for your little one as they force kids toes and feet to curl as they try to keep their shoes from falling off, and it could lead to them developing hammer toes too. 
  1. Kids shoes need to be BIG ENOUGH 
    • Your little one’s toes should NEVER touch the end of their shoes. 
    • There should always be enough ‘wiggle’ room (at least 5mm for little feet).                      
    February 27, 2019 — Stephanie Wilson
    Walk Of Fame

    Walk Of Fame

    Bugalugz Walk of Fame!

    We love our shoes!  What could be better than sharing them with everyone!  So just email a picture of your little one in their favourite Bugalugz shoes to, give me permission to post it on the site/Facebook and you could see them on our Bugalugz walk of fame page.  To make this even better, once a month we will give away a pair of shoes to our favourite picture - awesome...  Don't forget to like us on facebook: Bugalugz Facebook Page 

    Toby and his Croc Me Up by Moccis    

    Toby in his Croc Me Up Moccassins by Mocciss        Felicity rocking her pink Summer sandals

    Lily in her Grasshoppers - cute!!               Scarlett and Zara in Pink Petals

    Isla in her Sweeties -                                   Eve in her Babushka Boots, just in time 
    I think she's the real sweetie!                      for the snow yesterday :-)

    Nick goes Beep Beep                         Zara shows off her Anklebiters :-)

           Leo in his First Walkers      
    Alyssa in her slip ons                Leo in his first walkers

    Tameka in her Bluebells                Ariella in Petals

    Ali and Daniella in boots                       Charlie in Grasshoppers


    September 02, 2018 — Stephanie Wilson