Buying roller skates for kids can have you spending tons of hours on the web searching for the best options. There’s tons of quad skates and roller blades everywhere you look. And deciding what to pick up for your kiddo can be a doubt-packed experience. This roller skates for kids guide dives into what features to look for and what other important considerations to keep in mind when shopping.
At What Age Should Kids Use Roller Skates?
The best age to buy roller skates for a child is when they’ve developed enough balance and coordination skills. That age hovers between 4-5 years, but some younger kids can ride skates as long as they can use them safely. According to Momlovesbest.com, the youngest age at which kids can use roller skates is 3 years. But some adult skaters in this subreddit started skating at 2!
How Do I Choose Roller Skates?
First off, choose the right size. That’s the most important thing to consider when shopping around for rollerblades or quad skates for a child. After skate fit, comfort and support are the next most important selection factors. After that, you can look at features such as the boot, wheels (kids love light-up wheels), bearings, baseplates (for quad skates), frame (for rollerblades), closure system, and stopping mechanisms. Color is also an important consideration when purchasing kids’ roller skates, so is nice kid-friendly graphics. And for fast-growing children’s feet, roller skates with adjustable sizing are the best bet.
Which Roller Skates Are Best for Children?
The best roller skates for children aren’t any specific brand or mode; rather they are the best fitting skates and most comfortable kids skates that can be had at a reasonable price point.
Consider the Lenexa Go-Pro Adjustable Quad Skates. These guys cost around $50 on many online stores as of this writing, and they offer adjustable sizing. You can buy them in adjustable Small (junior 8-11), Medium (junior 12-2), and Large sizes (3-6).
Can you believe you’re also getting knee pads, elbow pads, knee pads, and even a backpack? That’s how affordable some kids’ roller skates can be.
Before we get into the guide, here’s a list of roller skating tips that foster safety when your kiddo is skating.
6 Safety Tips for Kids Who Skate
1. Make sure your child wears adequate protection before they head out the door.
They need to put a certified roller skating on that small dome. Elbow pads, knee pads, and wristguards are also essential. If they hate wearing that helmet, maybe you bought an ugly one, and they want to look and feel cool. Make sure this safety gear fits them nice and snug. And that the helmet offers adequate coverage at the rear of the head.
2. If your toddler hates their helmet, compel them to wear it anyway before they start skating.
But don’t stop there. Go ahead and get them something they’ll want to put on without you coercing them all the time.
3. Find a place where the young budding roller skater can safely have fun solo or with friends.
A level skating surface that’s also smooth is a good place to start. If there are cracks, potholes, small rocks, or twigs on the skating surface, that’s not safe. Because they might trip on some obstacle and break a wrist, or worse, hit their head.
4. Replace damaged roller skating gear.
If the helmet has a crack or other marks indicating less safety overall, dispose of it and buy a new protective lid for them. In the case of skates, inspect them continually for any loose nuts or worn-down parts such as breaks.
5. Unless your child is mature enough to skate unsupervised, don’t let them play without adult supervision.
This is especially important if the only available skating space is a high-traffic area. There’s always a careless driver zapping down the street. You can also skate alongside your child to make roller skating a shared activity. And if you’re not into skating and don’t want to (I think you should), why not get on your bike and go outdoors with them?
6. Don’t let them roller skate when it’s dark outside even if they’re wearing reflective clothing/gear.
It’s easy to hit objects and spill into hard surfaces such as pavement or concrete.
12 Things to Keep Your Eyes Peeled for When Buying Kids’ Roller Skates
Below is a list of factors you should keep in mind when looking around to purchase a pair of kids’ roller skates. Of all these considerations, brand and price are the least important while fit, comfort, ankle support, and durability are the most important.
Let’s now dive into this roller skate buying guide so you can learn how to pick up a pair of skates your kiddo will love and use.
1. Skate Type
Should you buy rollerblades or quad skates for your child? You can buy either, and there’s no better or worse choice between the two skate types. But there are differences between these two kinds of skates that you need to be aware of, and I’ve highlighted those differences in the article behind the link above.
Quad Skates: What Are Quad Skates?
Quad skates are a kind of roller skate that have 4 wheels, and these wheels are arranged in two rows that are parallel to each other. There are two wheels at the back and two at the front. Each pair of wheels mount onto the axles of a truck, and each truck supports a metal or plastic plate. These are pretty much like the trucks you see on skateboards.
This is what quad skates look like:
Rollerblades: What Are Rollerblades?
This is what rollerblades look like
Rollerblades are a type of roller skate with anywhere between 2 and 6 wheels arranged in-line (one behind the other). Kids’ rollerblades typically have 4 wheels, though. A steel axle runs through each wheel and two small screws keep it secure.
In general, quad skates feel a tad more stable thanks to the wide baseplate and wide, thick wheels. Chances are that your child will find standing and keeping their balance easier on quad skates. Quad skate wheels have a wider patch in contact with the skating surface. That’s why they feel more stable compared to rollerblades.
On the other hand, rollerblades/inline skates have slim wheels with an almost elliptical shape. That means a smaller area of the wheel stays in contact with the ground. And the smaller the contact patch, the less rolling resistance and the faster the wheel. Some inline skates with great ball bearings can build up more speed at take-off than your kid can control.
Rollerblades perform better when it comes to turning compared to quad skates. That is, kids’ inline skates are more agile than quad skates due to their slimmer wheel design. For longer rides on skates, go with rollerblades because they have bigger wheels and struggle less when they encounter small obstacles.
2. Braking System: Toe Stops and Heel Brakes
When buying a pair of skates as a gift for a kid, make sure the skate features a brake. With rollerblades, the braking mechanism is found under the heel while it is a toe stop for quad skates. Some feel that toe stops make stopping a little easier compared to a heel brake.
For rollerblades, the brake is typically on the right kiddo skate. But you can move the brake to the left brake if you so choose. You can also add an extra brake to the left skate if you believe doing that would boost your child’s confidence around stopping.
I’ve yet to see kids’ skates without a break.
For rollerblades, you can easily switch brakes between skates. And in most cases, the rubber heel brake pad has a small horizontal wear limit line that tells you it’s time to chuck out the worn-down brake pad and put in new replacement brake pads.
As for kids’ quad skates, you can’t always detach the toe stops, which means you can’t always replace these braking mechanisms. I like it when I can replace worn-down components on pair of skates.
3. Size the Skates Correctly
This is the roller skating gospel according to St. Esther:
It’s better for your kid to wear perfectly fitting rollerblades or quad skates that aren’t the best quality than for them to wear the best quality skates with a poor fit. Fit is the most IMPORTANT thing when it comes to buying roller skates for toddlers and older children.
That’s a fact.
Kids rollerblades/kids quad skates that are too small can cut off circulation completely or hurt your child’s feet during play. Too tight roller skates can even cause bunions and other undesirable effects including deforming a child’s feet. That’s how important fitting kid’s roller skates correctly really is.
And roller skates that are too loose can cause blisters that can discourage your kiddie from strapping their skates and playing with their friends or just having fun around the house.
How to Fit Your Kid for Roller Skates
Generally, kids’ roller skates fit the same way everyday kids’ shoes do. But some skates run smaller or narrower while may run bigger and wider.
The best approach is to measure your child’s feet and use the model-specific size chart to calculate the right size for them. A skate that fits properly has a snug fit: not too tight that it hurts, and certainly not too roomy that your toddler slops around the skate and gets bruises all over his/her feet.
Important: Read kids roller skate reviews before parting with your money. Know what brands or models run true to size and which don’t.
Help your tot wear their skates and fasten them nice and tight. Then, ask them how comfortable it feels. At ages 3-5, they should be able to verbalize any discomfort experienced. You may want to tighten or loosen the closure up a little for the perfect fit.
They need to be wearing the socks they’ll use when roller skating.
Don’t Size UP. Instead, Choose Adjustable Size Skates
DON’T size up because your kid has a pair of fast-growing feet. But a snug skate for them instead for safety reasons. Alternatively, pick roller skates with adjustable sizing.
Adjustable skates typically have a button that you press and pull the front of the skate outward to create more room. Pick skates that grow 2-4 shoe sizes so you won’t need to spend on new skates just 2 months down the road.
4. Boot Style and Material
Young, weak ankles are best served by skates with a boot that protects and supports them. Most rollerblades for kids have mid-top cuffs or high-top cuffs. High-top cuffs offer greater support on top of protecting the foot better. Usually, rollerblades have a synthetic upper that’s durable coupled with mesh for improved breathability.
Quad skates may feature a synthetic boot, a leather boot, or a suede boot. Leather and synthetic boots are ideal for indoor and outdoor skating. Leather roller skates may take a little more work to break in, but they soften up and become more comfortable afterward. Also, you may be able to stretch leather boots a little for a better fit.
Suede roller skates are best used indoors. Your kid can use them outdoors, but be prepared to buy them new skates sooner than you’d like because they don’t stand up too well to dirt and moisture.
For roller derby and speed skating, low-top boots are the preferred style. For everything else, mid-top to high-top boots should work well. But it’s not like young children just getting into roller skating need speed skaters or derby skates. Nor do they need dance or rhythm skates. They just need a decent pair of roller skates to learn skating on.
5. Wheels and Bearings: Material, Diameter, and Durometer
Go for rubber wheels (polyurethane wheels) and stay away from plastic wheels. Because plastic wheels have little rebound. Your tot will feel every vibration and every impact. Most cheapo Target-type kids’ skates tend to have clunky plastic wheels.
If you find a decent skate that checks every box apart from the wheels box at an attractive price point, grab it. You can always buy better rollerblade wheels/quad skate wheels down the road.
PU wheels/rubber wheels absorb impacts reasonably well. And they’re unlikely to fall apart the very first day your kiddo rolls on them.
Regarding wheel size, you want small-sized wheels that are also relatively wide. Smaller, wider wheels keep your toddler close to the ground. And a lower center of gravity means greater stability.
What’s the Right Wheel Size for Kids’ Rollerblades and Quad Skates?
For rollerblades, you want wheels whose size hovers around 60mm-70mm in diameter. As for kids’ quad skates, anything between 47mm and 60mm in diameter should be OK. Smaller wheels accelerate fast, struggle to roll over cracks, offer great agility, but aren’t very fast. Bigger wheels accelerate slower, roll fast longer, are less stable, and give a smoother roll.
Where Will Your Child Use the Skates?
A wheel’s hardness or softness is measured by a number called a durometer. Higher-durometer wheels are harder while lower-durometer wheels are softer. A 76A wheel is harder than a 72A wheel.
So, what wheel durometer is best for children’s roller skates? It depends on where the tike will mostly ride their skates.
If your kid will mostly use the skates indoors, buy small, hard wheels. If for outdoor use, choose larger softer wheels. Because softer wheels offer better grip and absorb vibrations better, and they glide over small cracks better.
Don’t worry too much about specific durometer numbers, though. Just look at the quality of the surface and choose wheels that’ll work well there.
Indoor surfaces generally require relatively small but considerably hard wheels. But if the surface is hard and extremely smooth, choose softer wheels because your kid needs tons of grip to skate safely on such a slick surface.
ABEC-rated bearings roll satisfactorily well, but as long as the bearings aren’t too crappy, it doesn’t matter how fast they spin. ABEC 3, ABEC 5, and ABEC 7 bearings are all good. But the higher the ABEC rating, the faster the skates. For younger children, go with slower bearings such as ABEC 3.
Skate-rated bearings such as Bones are also good as are ILQ and SG bearings. As long as the bearing spins reasonably well, no problem.
Important: Caring for your and your kid’s roller skates is crucial. Once you teach your kid to roller skate safely, they’ll be getting those skates dirty every time. Learn how to clean roller skates here.
6. Frame or Baseplate
Rollerblade boots sit on a frame while quad skate boots sit on a baseplate. Metal frames on rollerblades are preferable because they’re sturdier, last longer, and are more supportive.
What’s more, your kiddo will get much better power transfer compared to plastic frames. Also, metal frames prevent violent vibrations at speed. So, buying inlines with an aluminum chassis is a good idea. Not surprisingly, metal frames typically cost more than plastic frames.
Roller skates can have metal baseplates or plastic baseplates. And metal baseplates are heavier than plastic baseplates, but they convert much of the stride into forward motion.
In addition, metal plates are more durable and supportive than plastic ones. If your kid stands on the heavier side of the weighing scale, gift them a metal baseplate.
If you’re still unsure at this point, it’s OK to buy a more affordable option that features plastic baseplates or frames.
7. Kingpin Angle
The kingpin is a large bolt that holds the components of a roller skate truck together. The angle this screw makes with the ground is the kingpin angle. With most quad skates, this angle sits somewhere between 10˚and 45.˚
The smaller the truck/ground angle is, the more stable skates. And the larger the angle, the greater agility. If the skate’s specs state the kingpin angle, go for 10-20 degrees. But don’t worry too much about this spec because a beginning skater that young likely won’t notice any difference.
8. Closure System
If you’re buying rollerblades, look for something with both laces, a powerstrap, and a buckle. Most inline skates for young children offer these three closure systems together for a safe, secure fit. This combination keeps your child’s heels locked in nice and solid so they push all they want without heel lift.
Some pricey children’s rollerblades may feature a BOA closure system. This’s a knob-based closure system that lets you customize the fit of the skate quickly and effortlessly. This closure type works well in most cases. But a faulty BOA closure can have you returning the skate within the return window.
The BOA feature tends to drive the product cost up, not surprisingly. If you’re buying the first-ever skate for your kiddie, stay away from options with this closure type. Just stick with the almost ubiquitous 3-part closure system comprising lacing, velcro strap, and a buckle.
Quad skates mostly use traditional laces, though. Laces might take a bit of time and patience to tie, and some can get loose during use. That said, lacing up skates makes it easier to customize the fit however you want.
9. Color, Graphics, and Light-up Wheels
Kids like nice things. Because they love the idea of being a cool kid. If you’re buying a gift for a young child, make sure to choose a skate color they’ll like.
Pastels don’t work very well for children. Nor do muted color blends. According to Sciencing, children prefer bright colors such as blue, yellow, red, green, orange, and purple because bright colors promote happiness and comfort. Usually, junior roller skates are available in two-color combos rather than one color.
Kiddos love cool graphics, too. They also like it when their skates have luminous wheels that light up as they skate around.
10. Skate Price
How much is considered a good price to pay for a decent pair of kids’ roller skates? You can get good enough roller skates or inline skates for your child at anywhere between $50-$200. Generally, the pricier the better, and vice versa.
But if you think the most expensive inline skates for kids are the best skates on the market, think again. What you need is a decent pair of kiddie skates that fit them properly and don’t cost the whole world.
There are all kinds of no-brand skates for sale all over the web, and some cost close to nothing. But I wouldn’t buy those fish-price kiddo skates for whatever reason.
Most are poorly made, and the safety of your child isn’t a guarantee. And the last thing you want to see is skate wheels breaking apart when your little one is rolling down the street at speed.
Look for a decent kid’s starter skate that costs a reasonable price. Preferably something that’s size adjustable.
11. Best Roller skate Brands for Kids
I did say that brand doesn’t matter all that much when picking a pair of roller skates for a child. But you want to stay away from fly-by-night skate brands that sell absolute crap at prices no one can resist.
It’s sad that even some of the best skate brands in the world have their outdoor baby gear made in that country. I won’t mention names here.
So, what’s the best roller skate brand for kids? Riedell, Bont, Rollerblade, Roller Derby, Chicago, Impala, Chaya, and a few others are trusted by moms and dads everywhere. But they’re certainly not the only good roller skate brands.
In fact, quite a few people dislike Chicago and impala skates. But they’re some of the most popular kids’ skates out there.
12. Consider Buying Used Roller Skates
Good roller skates for kids can be a little expensive. But who says you must buy brand-spanking-new roller skates for your kid?
You can get a good pair of used skates without shelling out a small fortune for them. So, ask around. Someone among your family or friends might have old but still useable skates.
Has your little one been wanting to get into the junior league? Join a derby FB group and ask if there’s a derby mom who might have skates their that child grew out of.
I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said yes and you ended up with a decent pair of Cardi Girl or even Bont skates for free. Just because you were courageous enough to ask.
I also think you can find kids’ skates that still have some life left on Craigslist or e-bay. Garage sales also happen where you are, I suppose. Be there and see if they have anything your child might like.
Buying used roller skates for kids allows you to afford high-quality skates at an incredibly low price. It allows your little one to explore derby and decide if they really like it without you spending too much.
How to Choose Kids Roller Skates: Final Thoughts
When choosing roller skates for kids, decide if what your tot needs are quad skates or rollerblades. Brand isn’t the most important consideration, nor is the price of the skate. Correct sizing of skates for your kid is the most critical aspect when it comes to buying skates for a young child.
After correct sizing comes overall skate quality. Your toddler or older child deserves well-made quad skates or inline skates, and the components need to be the best quality they can be at that price point. If you want to get fancy after this point and pay a premium for all the bells and whistles, why not?
Whether you buy a cheap or pricey skate for your child matters little. No matter what brand you end up with at whatever price, be sure the skate fits your child perfectly and offers a reasonable level of comfort and ankle support.
Remember: kids fall when roller skating. So, encourage them to wear a good roller skating helmet before they hit the skating surface. Decent knee pads and elbow pads help, too. If you must skimp on some skating gear, let it not the helmet.
I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/esther.moni/">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="https://ke.linkedin.com/in/esther-moni-3841b573/">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKcVb3NNDrURDH8C0KiAE1g/">nascent youtube channel.