So, it’s finally happened: your little household dancer is graduating from silly shimmies to the world of ballet. Congratulations!
Of course, before you can send your child off to their first dance classes, you’ll need to outfit them with the right dancewear, including the classic ballet slipper. For parents new to this type of dance, it may be hard to figure out how to choose the right ballet shoes to set your child off to a good start.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered with simple ballet shoes buying guide to break down the basics. Read on to find the best slippers for your new dancer!
Ballet Footwear Materials
There are a few different materials traditionally used in ballet dancewear: leather, canvas, and satin.
Leather shoes have been the more popular slipper option since ballet got its start in the 1700s. Today, they continue to be longer-lasting and more durable than the other alternatives.
As a result, leather ballet shoes—with a single leather sole—are a common pick as the beginner ballet shoes, as they’re easy to find and they provide great support for little feet. In addition, leather shoes will mold to the wearer’s foot in time, which can help their technique.
Canvas and satin shoes are becoming more readily available in children’s sizes as well. Neither of these is as durable, nor satin in particular is usually worn just for the aesthetic shine more than their training value. Split-sole canvas shoes, on the other hand, are easy to clean and less expensive than leather, and some parents opt for them as a cost-effective choice for growing feet.
Ultimately, the choice of material is up to you and your child, depending on the fit and form of the shoe. Reaching out to your child’s instructor can be a great way to get more specific advice based on the school’s requirements and your child’s preferences.
Finding the Right Fit
When you’re buying pointe shoes for kids, the most important thing to consider is the way they fit. Your child will be spending a lot of time on their feet, a pair of slippers that fits the contours of their feet can give them a true learning advantage.
The ballerina shoes should fit right against your child’s foot like a sock, without any excess material pinching or puckering. On the other end of the spectrum, they shouldn’t be so tight that they curl the toes or compress the foot in any way.
The right fit will mimic the feel and comfort of barefoot walking, which can encourage your little dancer to find proper form and foot alignment. This can be tricky to find, especially because slipper sizes will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer! You’ll need to know your child’s shoe size to start, but make sure to take a look at the shoe on your child’s foot as well.
To make sure your child is comfortable, here are a few things to consider:
- Is there enough room for your child to wiggle their toes?
- Are their toes flat on the ground or curled inward by the fabric?
- Is there a large gap around the heel, wide enough to stick your fingers into?
- Does the drawstring leave red marks across your child’s foot when the shoe is removed?
- Is the shoe wide enough to cushion all of your child’s toes, without leaving room for you to stick your fingers into the fabric at either side?
These questions can help you find the right shoe, regardless of the manufacturer.
Balancing Price and Fit
With fit covered, we still need to cover a pressing question for most parents: should you buy the next size up to make room for growing feet? The answer depends on the type and price of the slipper you’re considering.
In general, it isn’t a problem to buy the next size or half size up, provided that the slipper fits your child’s foot well. Don’t be tempted to go up more than that! A fit that’s too roomy can cause poor form and even cause your child to trip, so size up within reasonable limits.
If you prefer to have your child’s ballet slippers fit their feet perfectly, it won’t cost you much more: ballet slippers are one of the most inexpensive kinds of dance shoes. You can get a great slipper for anywhere from $15-25, meaning that upgrading to a larger size on occasion won’t break the bank.
In addition to the measurement and fit considerations above, some parents have a few more questions about their child’s ballet slippers.
Are Girls’ Ballet Slippers Different from Boys’ Slippers?
In general, boys’ feet tend to be a little wider than girls’ feet, which is something you’ll need to consider in terms of fit. Other than that, there are no real differences in terms of measurement or material.
When performing ballet, boys and men tend to wear white or black ballet slippers. This is in contrast to ballet shoes for girls in traditional pink, but the choice is more of a personal than a formal one.
What Do Children Need to Wear with Their Shoes?
Ballet dancewear can depend on the school or instructor’s requirements. However, in most cases, your child will need to wear a pair of leggings or thin socks with their slippers. Try to make sure your child is wearing the same socks or leggings when trying on shoes for fit.
Does My Child Need Split Sole or Full Sole Shoes?
There used to be a lot of debate over the merits of split vs. full sole ballet slippers. Many believe that full soled shoes offer more support, especially for growing feet.
However, in modern ballet shoes, most split-sole shoes have inner soles that provide extra strength and resistance. At the end of the day, there’s little difference, though you can always opt for a full sole variant to be safe.
Get the Best Ballet Shoes for Your Child
Buying the right ballet shoes for your little dancer doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. With the tips above, you can find the right materials and fit for your child in no time!