While getting exactly the right size t-shirt or jumper or pants for your child is important, it is not imperative for their physical health. It’s ok if your kids have to grow into a piece of clothing, but the same cannot be said for shoes. Ensuring that their shoes fit just right is vital to your child’s foot health, agility and having pain-free days.
And while there are a number of features that a quality shoe should have which we discuss in this article, the art and science of getting the right size, requires a guide entirely of its own.
Now, you can certainly go to a professional fitter in a shoe store (such as Hugs for Kids) to have your child’s feet measured and the right shoes selected but wherever you go, knowing what to look for is a parent’s responsibility. When trying on the shoes, here are some things to look for to determine if the size is right:
There should be a child’s thumb width between the end of the shoe and the end of the longest toe. This ensures that their toes won’t get squashed and allows room for inevitable growth during the year.
Your child should be able to wriggle their toes quite freely, but not the rest of their foot.
Their heel should be comfortably held in place, so it doesn’t slip in and out while walking. In other words, the fastening mechanism should hold the heel firmly in the back of the shoe.
The sole should not twist.
The shoe should not dig or rub the ankle in any way.
The widest part of the foot should correspond with the widest part of the shoe.
Most importantly, watch to see if your child walks naturally in the shoes, and listen to how they feel in the shoes. Their natural gait should never be affected by the shoes, or this may cause problems later. If they complain of pain or are stumbling when walking, then this isn’t the shoe for them.
After the age of three your child’s foot will grow about half a size every six months, meaning that school shoes should generally last between nine months and a year. However, if your child has a growth spurt during the school year, their feet may have shot up in size, so have them measured by a footwear fitter.
If you’re tempted to buy shoes a little too big so your child can grow into them, don’t. If the shoes are too big, it can cause clumsiness and lead to injury if the child ends up falling over or rolling their ankle.
If buying online, one trick is to remove the inner sole of one of your child’s current shoes. You can then measure this length and use our Shoe Size Comparison Chart to find the right size. Alternatively, you can use this handy Fit Kit from our friends at PLAE Shoes for a more comprehensive fit identification.
Make sure both feet are measured. Whether you measure your child’s feet yourself, or a shoe specialist does the job, make sure both feet are measured. Most children, like adults, will have one foot that is longer or wider, so it’s vital to check both feet.
Buy shoes at the end of the day. While you might decide to head out bright and early to get your child's shoes fitted, bear in mind that it's best to go during late afternoon, as children's feet often get a little more swollen by the end of the day. That way, you'll get school shoes fitted when your child's feet are at their biggest.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the shoe just doesn’t suit the foot. Plus, sometimes kids just grow faster than we anticipate. Here’s what to look out for:
Have growing pains checked out. In years gone by, children complaining of pain in the legs and feet would be told not to worry as it was just due to 'growing pains'. Expert opinion has since changed, and podiatrists now recommend parents get any foot or leg pain checked out, as most foot pain in children is preventable.
Children complaining of pain in the feet, heel, knee or legs.
Unexplained tripping and falling (if it happens regularly).
Uneven shoe wear, or one shoe that wears down before the other.
Skin or toenail irritation.
It might seem a lot but its actually pretty easy and intuitive. Plus, it’s super important so we hope this helps.