Every parent knows the dreaded battle of dragging a young child into a department store in search of new shoes or clothing. They are likely to complain throughout the whole process. So, why not make the experience as expedient as possible?

There are several things to keep in mind when you head to the children’s shoe section, and by knowing what to look for in advance–you can save yourself a lot of headaches and wasted time. Here are a few tips that should help get the ball rolling without too much additional effort.

Find Out Exactly What Size the Child Needs

First things first: head to a store with a sales associate who can take an accurate measurement of your little one’s feet–even consider measuring their feet at home. Children’s feet can grow incredibly quickly, so even if you purchased shoes recently, play it safe and make sure you know what size to start looking for. Also, bring a pair of the child’s commonly worn socks to try to with shoes. It’s difficult to tell if a shoe fits correctly without testing sock thickness.

Determine What Shoes You’re Going to Purchase

Your kid needs shoes, but what kind of shoes? Do they spend most of their time in flip flops by the pool, or are they constantly on the move in rugged sneakers? No matter what your child is like, don’t just head to the children’s aisle in the shoe store and start browsing. That spells disaster for your sanity and your child’s patience.

How To Find The Best Shoes For Your Kids

If your child will be participating in a lot of physical activity, look for shoes that have antimicrobial linings that can wick away sweat. Not only will it keep your kid’s feet from overheating, but it will also prevent the shoes from smelling as bad later on. Shoes like these often come with a slightly larger price tag, but the overall health benefits are worth it.

Before committing to any shoe, check with your child’s school guidelines. Believe it or not, many schools place limitations on what footwear is allowed in the classroom, especially preschools. Young children might not be permitted to wear open-toed sandals, so don’t waste your money on a pair of shoes that they can’t even wear on school days.

Choose Shoes That Are Versatile

No matter what activities your children participate in, their shoes should always have multiple uses. Sure, those UGG boots won the heart of your five-year-old, but will she able to wear them while playing soccer? Probably not.

If you’re looking to keep your budget reasonable, encourage your children to select shoes that can be worn to all sorts of locations. Also, stick to colors that can be paired with many different outfits.

Always Choose Slightly Loose over a Little Snug

According to recent studies, little kids’ feet can grow up to 1 mm per month, so purchasing shoes that barely fit is never a good idea. Now, that’s not to say that you should buy them a pair of clown shoes or anything, but it’s smart to give them a little wiggle room for extra growth. Children under the age of three have feet that grow even faster (up to 1.5 mm in a month), but by the time they’re over the age of 10, you can assume that their feet will stop growing so rapidly.

Even after you purchase your children’s new shoes, check every now and then to see if they feel too tight. Pinchy shoes can lead to cranky moods and potential injuries. According to a Swiss study, scientists found that 53 percent of the children they observed were wearing the wrong size shoes, which indicates that many parents fail to realize when their child has outgrown an old pair.  

Consider Ordering Online Over a Meltdown in the Mall

There are several benefits to shopping for children’s shoes online after you’ve determined their accurate size in a shoe store. The biggest incentive is the ability to avoid a public tantrum when they can’t buy the polka dotted rain boots or the sandals that are too small.  You can still let your child have input in their shoe selection, but you will be able to avoid unnecessary distractions or scenes in front of other shoppers.

Shoe shopping online is also often quicker and cheaper than browsing store aisles. You can narrow your search down to the shoes that only come in your child’s size and compare prices across dozens of different sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Smaller retail stores also frequently offer better discounts, and you can use coupon sites and apps to score an extra percentage off. Parents are busy, and if shopping online can make getting new shoes faster and less costly, than doing so makes total sense.

It Can be a Process

When you’re shopping with your little ones, it can be stressful to say the least. You want what’s best for your child, even when it comes to their shoes. Make sure you measure your child’s feet every time they are getting new shoes–they end up growing faster than you think.

Buy shoes that they can wear more often, and especially consider getting shoes that are appropriate for school if the price is on the more expensive side. Shopping with your kids in any way is bound to be a bit of a process at times, but by sticking to some basic steps–you are likely to get through it as easily as possible.