Choosing any sports equipment for the apple of your eye can be a challenge, and roller skates are no exception. For one thing, children tend to have their own preferences, and while some of them are reasonable, others can be inspired by what they see on TV and maybe wholly unreasonable in real life. Again, children are constantly growing, and it is not possible to purchase new skates every year. Parents meet these challenges in different ways, and while some are useful, others can harm your kids’ health, physical balance and liking for the sport in the long run. In our little guide on how to choose the best children’s roller skates, we shall discuss these do’s and don’ts so your kid can forever be grateful for the skates you get him/her.
The Size Problem
Let’s begin with the question of size. Depending on how old your kid is, and his/her body build, he/she may outgrow a shoe size in as little as six to nine months. Kids in their teens tend to grow somewhat more slowly in this department, but it can still be a challenge. Some parents deal with this problem by buying a size or two larger for their kids, assuming (rightly) that the kid will “grow into” the shoes over time. While this assumption may be true, you should ensure that the shoes aren’t too big. If they are, his/her feet will be moving inside the shoe and this can cause balancing issues and also lead to blisters and sores.
Ideally then, you should choose a size that’s one level higher than his/her current size, and then carefully observe him/her trying them out the first time. If your child seems to be wobbling too much, it’s better to return the pair and get one that’s smaller, even if you know that the second pair would have to be replaced much sooner.
The Inline Vs Quad Debate
Given that a lot of the professional skating done today is done using inline skates, it is not surprising that kids have a natural preference for inlines. However, inlines may not be ideal as your kid’s first skate. Inlines demand significantly more strength in the calves and ankles, and while some kids have that strength as early as their early teens, others may take time to gather such muscle. Either way, it is not wise to force your kids or be forced by them, into buying inline skates.
Note however, that if your child has some skating experience or is moving into the middle teens, he/she should be more than able to deal with inline skates. At this point, it becomes entirely a matter of preference and whether you or the local rink trainer can train him/her correctly using inline skates.
Type and Price Range
Many parents aren’t sure if their kids’ fancy for skating will last or whether the fancy new skates will end up in the next garage sale. Hence, they go for what are called recreational or toy skates. These are cheap roller skates made for low to moderate skating and typically do not have top of the line features like ABEC-rated bearings or aluminium plates. Unless you’re honing your loved one for the competitive circuit, these skates should do just fine as long as they are from a reputed company. With a little searching on online portals like Amazon, you can find a pair for as low as $50-$75.
Crank the quality up a notch and you get regular fitness skates. These are slightly costlier but provide better closure systems, better wheels and plates that won’t bend or wear out very easily. If you’re confident your kid will stick to skating or if this is his/her second skate, a regular fitness skate in the $75-$120 range will do just fine.
Going above this point is not recommended because chances are the child will outgrow the shoes and turn your investment to dust within a year. Also, skates above this price point are typically aimed at derby players and semi-professionals and do not cater to children’s sizes very often.
Hardness and Wheel Quality
While these are critical components of adults’ skates, they are not so important for children. However, it is ideal to get wheels rated at around 80A since these are meant for outdoor skating. Given kids’ adventurous nature, you never know when he/she may head off the rink to skate on the pavement or even your own backyard. Also, you can allow your child to skate with you at a slow pace when you head out for your evening walk. Whatever durometer rating you choose, remember to get good quality wheels from a reputed manufacturer since wheel defects can lead to injuries and dissuade your child from continuing with skating.