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The Best First Roller Skates for Young Children

Updated on March 2, 2015

If you are looking for a first pair of roller skates for a young child then you have three different options. If your child is very young, then you might want to opt for the traditional plastic toddler skate that fits on over the child's shoe - in fact, this might be your only option if your child has very small feet. Otherwise, you might prefer to opt for just a basic pair of plastic, leather or vinyl child's quad skates or in-line skates, if your child's feet are big enough to accommodate these. The third option is the rather ingenious invention of the adjustable boot roller skate. This is similar to the ordinary modern plastic roller skate except that it will fit your child for much longer because of its adjustability.

Over Shoe Skates

The advantages of over-the-shoe skates is that they are usually fairly cheap, they are light to wear and very simple to take on and off (which is something your child might want to do a lot of at first). Over-the-shoe skates are the ideal first skate for very young children - you can use them from a size 6 shoe up until a 12 or so, depending on the skate. Sometimes you can purchase starter skates like this with a wheel-lock function, which means that when the wheels are in 'lock' mode, your child will effectively just be walking on skates. This can offer a young child the confidence to begin skating, which otherwise can often seem like a rather alarming pastime, particularly if you have a child who doesn't like falling over. Fisher-Price produce a starter skate with a 3 stage wheel function, which you can adjust depending on the level of your child. This is an in-line skate, which may be ideal for children aiming to mimic older siblings - they have great reviews as well. Although these Fisher Price skates appear, at first glance, to be a boot skate, your child actually wears shoes as well.

Adjustable Boot Skates

Boot skates are roller skates which your child wears without shoes. These durable plastic boots are popular with children, both on the rink and off. Boot skates are not particularly expensive but they can have a short life span, simply because of the rapidly growing feet of young children. That is why the ingenious invention of the adjustable boot skate can be the ideal choice.

Adjustable skates span a range of up to four shoe sizes, which means that your child should be able to wear them for a couple of years or even more, before growing out of them. The boot is usually made from a tough plastic construction, with a softer sock inside. The foot is well protected.

Adjustable boot skates can start from very small sizes - child size 9 or 10. This means that a child should be able to wear them from around the age of three upwards, unless they have very small feet. Polyurethane wheels are better than plastic as they offer a smoother skate - most good quality roller boots come with polyurethane wheels, although it is always worth noting that new wheels can be purchased and added if necessary (just check that they fit onto the skate first).

Are these adjustable roller skates preferable to the over-the-shoe skates already described? Well, in many ways they are, because they will probably be better quality and are more alike the ordinary skates worn by older children. This means that a child will not have to adapt to a completely different feel once they outgrow the over shoe version. Adjustable skates can also be purchased in a range of sizes, so even much older children can wear them. They are, of course, less easy to slip on and off quickly, but once your child is used to them they are a great choice.

A boot roller skate might seem faster and more difficult to skate on than an over shoe skate at first, but as an ex-roller skater who used to belong to an artistic roller skating club, I can vouch that I have seen children as young as three master the art of this sport in 'proper' skates, once they have gained their confidence.

One-Size Boot Skates

These are the ordinary roller boots worn by older children and teenagers, both at rinks and in parks or on sidewalks. The modern day roller boot is made of tough plastic, leather or vinyl. It comes with toe-stoppers and usually with polyurethane wheels. Roller skates like these can be purchased in a wide range of prices - if these are your child's first roller skates and you are unsure as to whether they will continue with their new hobby, then it is best not to splash out too much to start with. Again, it is worth noting that cheap boots can be quite easily upgraded.

The wheels and bearings that come with most beginner roller skates are basic and do not have the greatest spin on them (to upgrade skates so that they will go faster and feel smoother you can purchase better quality, faster bearings and more advanced wheels). However, this should not be necessary at first - if fact, it is likely to put your child off unless they are extremely confident and well coordinated.

The only downside in purchasing this type of skate for a young child is the speed at which their feet grow - you may be able to purchase one size up from your child's ordinary shoes, yet it is not advisable to buy larger than that as the child will not have good control of the roller skate if it is too big. However, if your child prefers a more artistic looking rink skate over the plastic skates, then this is the only option.

With boot roller skates, you can either opt for traditonal quad skates or in-line skates. My preference is quad skates, but I know children who love in-line skates. It is worth noting that quad skates are easier to stand up in at first, simply because the weight is spread out more.


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