Is Your Child Wearing The Right Size Shoes?

  • The first step in fitting new shoes is to determine the correct shoe size. Bring your child with you to the store and make sure that she’s wearing the socks she would normally wear. Then, follow these guidelines suggested by foot specialists: Don't Miss!
    Children's Shoes:
    What You Need to Know

    • Pull the socks away from the toes slightly and make sure that both feet are measured with a child-sized Brannock device (foot-measuring tool) while your child is standing. One foot is usually larger than the other, so size to fit the larger foot.

    • Measure the width of each foot, as well as the length. But take care to observe your child’s particular foot, because width measurement with the device is approximate, and shoe width is based on the foot’s circumference, not just the flat sole. A child with a thick, narrow foot may take a wider shoe than the measurements indicate.

    • Try the indicated size of shoe on the child and have the child stand up. Look at the general fit: The shoe should be loose in the toe area and snug over the instep.

    • Test the shoe size while the child is standing. Foot-care specialists roughly agree on the “thumbnail test”: There should be at least a thumbnail’s width (about 3/4 inch) between the end of the longest toe (not necessarily the big toe) and the end of the shoe. There should be at least a 1/4-inch give in the shoe’s width; test this by pushing your thumb down the outside of the shoe at the widest part of the foot. Some podiatrists recommend removing the shoe’s insole to perform this test.

    • Make sure that the shoe heel fits, and that your child’s heel does not slip when walking. If it is too loose, your child’s foot will slide forward, crowding the toes.

    • If the shoe style is low-cut, check that the ankle bones clear the shoe (the inside ankle bone is lower than the outside).

    • Be sure that the lace rows fit together evenly. Rows that are too wide or too narrow on either the top or bottom may indicate poor fit.

    • Check the foot for any signs of rubbing. Well-fitted shoes do not cause blisters, sores or calluses.

    • Fight the urge to economize by buying bigger dress shoes. Stiffer dress shoes need more care in sizing than flexible athletic shoes. But be careful to avoid the temptation to buy bigger for any kind of shoe in hopes of saving money over time: your child will have to work too hard to walk in a shoe that isn’t designed for his foot (one podiatrist calls it the “Frankenstein walk”). That is, the child will walk with foot muscles clenched just to keep the shoe on. This will impede the child’s mobility.