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Ballet Shoes – Extending the Life

“My shoes are too small!” is the cry from the little ballerina in the hall. Her mom just bought new ballet shoes yesterday it seems. How can she extend the life of these shoes? And how can she avoid having to buy several more pairs this year to keep up with her little dancer’s growing feet?

These are a few tricks to help parents get the most out of their children’s shoes.

• Have your child wear thick socks when trying on new ballet shoes. They can even wear socks with their shoes (studio dress-code permitting) until the shoes get snug and then wear them without socks for the remainder of the life of the shoe.

• Buy a shoe with a good drawstring. If it pulls in nicely, it can be let out at the child’s foot grows. If the drawstring does not pull in the shoe tightly, it is often a sign of a shoe of lesser quality.

• If your child has leather ballet shoes, they can be stretched manually. Take a wooden spoon and place it inside the toe of the shoe. Gently pull back on the shoe while pushing on the spoon. This little trick might help your child get a few more weeks or months out of their shoes.

• Do not let the children wear their shoes outside. Wearing them only at ballet will help with the life of the shoe.

Every hobby has its expenses, but using these simple tips will help you keep your shoe costs down as your child dances their way through life.

  • Elizabeth

    If you and your child are truly serious about dancing, then you’ll have to make some sacrifices to provide shoes that fit. Eliminate one night a month at McDonald’s or Burger King, etc. and you will easily pay for a new pair of good canvas ballet slippers which average between $11 to $13.

    Besides, children typically grow in spurts. You may wear two or three properly fitted pairs out, before your child starts growing again. My daughter wore size 3 shoes for nearly 2 years, then in one summer her feet went from a street size 3 to a size 6.5. We were constantly buying new everything for the entire summer. Now three years later she’s still a shoe size 6.5.

    Wearing socks with ballet slippers, is not really a good idea either, as it will reduce the child’s feel of the floor and also can cause the shoe not to turn with the foot which could result in an injury. This is especially true if the child is wearing the socks over tights. Coarser socking material can also lead to blisters where they rub the feet against the shoe.

    Leather slippers will ususally stretch to their acceptable limits by virtue of merely wearing them – the body heat and perspiration will make them stretch and mold to the toes. If the child’s feet have grown to the point that the shoes are too tight, there’s probably not a lot of “stretch” left anyway.

    Also beware tightening the drawstrings too much. They are there to take up the gaping on the sides of a “fitted” shoe. They are not intended to be used to cinch up an oversized shoe to the foot. Doing this puts a lot of tension across the back of the Achilles Tendon and can cause heel injuries.

    If in doubt, always read what the shoe manufacturer tells you about fitting their dance shoes. I’ve yet to see one that doesn’t stress the importance of picking shoes that fit the feet as they are right now to prevent injuries.

    Also for the record, as far as ballet and jazz are concerned, most trained dance teachers today want their younger dance students to dance barefoot so the student can get the feel of the floor in relation to their body movements and don’t even consider requiring shoes till the child has reached a certain level of skill.

  • balletgrl

    you should never buy shoes that are too big! your dance shoes should feel like socks. they should not be too snug or too big. though i thiik that if you are wearing socks with them then that might be ok.