Your 5-year-old might love the idea of skates, until she actually puts them on and finds out it’s not so easy to stay upright on wheels or blades. While learning to skate is bound to come with frustrations and a few bruises and bumps, you can make the process simpler by buying the right kind of skates.
Type Of Skate
Ice skates and roller skates for kids both come in several styles. You might be tempted to start with double blades on ice skates rather than single blades, but this isn’t necessarily a good idea. Double-blades have limited usefulness, since they shouldn’t be used by kids older than age 6, SkierNet.com states. Even worse, kids don’t really learn to skate using them. Many ice skating rinks don’t allow double blade skates. For roller skates, skates with four wheels, called quad skates, are easier than rollerblades for a rookie skater. Outdoor quad skates have softer wheels than indoor quads, so they can move over rough areas more easily.
Used Or New
Good skates can be expensive; if you want a good brand, look at a children’s resale shop for high-quality, already broken-in skates. Of course, if your daughter has her heart set on purple skates and all you can find at the thrift shop are white, one of you will have to compromise. Whether you’re buying used or new ice skates, the blades might need sharpening.
Take your kid’s feet with you, so she can try skates on. Skate sizes don’t always correspond to shoe sizes. Most run one to 1 1/2 sizes smaller than shoes and girl’s skates may run even smaller, as much as 2 to 2 1/2 sizes smaller, according to Reebok skate product manager Andrew Stewart. Try skates on both feet, since many people, including kids, have one foot that’s slightly larger than the other. Skates should feel tighter than shoes, since they come up high to protect the ankle. This can feel funny to kids at first, so expect some complaints.
You might be tempted to buy skates a little big to save money down the road, but skates that slide loosely on your child’s foot can make it harder to skate. There should be no more than 1/4 inch from the end of the big toe to the end of the footbed of the skate, Stewart advises.
Kids will fall when they’re learning to skate; it’s a given. Cushion her falls with knee and elbow pads if she seems nervous about skating. Helmets are essential, no matter what kind of skates you buy, to protect against head injuries. Many kid’s roller skates have wheels made to go more slowly than larger-sized skates, to help prevent falls.