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How To Buy Shoes For Kids – Stop Hurting Your Kids’ Feet!

Kids Shoe Size

Most parents believe that once they get their children’s feet measured, that measured size automatically translates to the correct shoe size. This is the most common mistake parents make when buying shoes for their kids!

The length of the foot is not the only thing we must consider when measuring our kids’ feet.  Many additional considerations must be noted in order to guarantee the feel, fit, wear, and comfort of the shoe! For instance, the width must be taken into consideration if you want to provide your child with the correct pair of shoes.

WARNING: the size that your children measure is only a starting point when looking for shoes for them!

Are children’s shoes more important than they are for adults? Yes, I  believe they are! Children are still growing, developing, and working on their coordination. The right type of shoes will protect their feet, legs, and back by minimizing the impact caused by repeated running, jumping, and skidding.

It seems like this generation of parents doesn’t put the same emphasis on the importance of well fitted shoes as the former ones. Why is it so important to get the right shoe size for your child? Because the shoes that you choose for your child CAN and WILL affect their overall foot, leg, and back health!

I have been working at a specialized children’s shoe store for over 6 years, and I handle approximately two hundred shoe fittings and try-ons per week. I have fitted children who have various foot issues such as flat feet, hammer toes, foot and leg pain!  I always recommend that parents have their children’s feet  measured at their local children’s shoe store, since these stores hire shoe fitters that know how to fit your kids’ shoes properly.

Please avoid taking your child to places such as Nordstrom, Stride Rite, or Payless… I have helped parents that come with their children from these stores, and they always come wearing the wrong shoe size! I explain in more detail why you must avoid those stores in this post: 

The Best Place To Buy Kids Shoes – Avoid Stride Rite, Nordstrom, Payless…

I will explain how to buy shoes for kids if you don’t have a local children’s shoe store in your area that you trust!

Children's Shoe Stores

Getting The Correct Shoe Size For Your Kid! – 5 Simple Steps

If you don’t have a children’s shoe store in your area, here is a set of guidelines you can follow to make sure you are getting your child the correct shoe size:

1- Make sure you have a proper device at home to measure your kids’ feet. In this post I describe the best shoe measurement devices:

Shoe Size Measuring Device – Stop Buying The Wrong Shoe Size

2- Always make sure that you measure your kids’ feet when they are fully standing. On weight-bearing, the foot stretches in both length and width, so this is the only way to get the TRUE shoe size.

3- Always make sure to measure both feet (most of us have a half a size difference between our feet). The longer of the two feet is the correct length to be fitted.

4- Measure to the longest toe, which is not always the “big” toe, but could be the second, or even the third toe.

5- Measure the wider foot.

Did you know that the volume of the foot also plays an important  role when finding the correct type of shoes? The volume is the total amount of foot that is to fit inside the shoe. For example, some kids’ feet are thin and bony, while others are stocky and muscular. All these different type of feet might measure the same length and width, but will FIT and FEEL different in the same shoe because of the difference in volume they put inside the shoe!

Sounds complicated doesn’t it? Don’t worry! I will show you the best fitting shoes for children, since I have fitted them all!

While size is obviously important, do not overemphasize its importance by the assuming that if the shoe is the right size, it will automatically deliver the proper fit. Did you know that in men’s, women’s, and kid’s shoes, there are nearly 300 hundred size-width combinations?

The Best Kids Shoes

Getting The Correct Shoe Size For Your Child – Get It Right!

You might think I am exaggerating, but there are 5 steps you must follow in order to make sure your child’s gets the correct shoe size!

1- Length Fit: Allow approximately 3/8th of an inch of space from the end of the longest toe.

2- Tip of the Little Toe: Make sure the little toe is not pressed inward, as this causes corns or blisters.

3- Ball or Width Fit: This can be snug, but should NEVER be tight. A tight fit can cause several foot issues, such as blisters, corns, and calluses, among others. In addition, the foot NORMALLY swells about 5% over a day’s wear, so “expansion allowance” must be considered.

4- Instep Fit: Always check for any tight fit around this area. This can happen specially with fat/fleshy or stocky/muscular feet. It can exert pressure on the instep and affect circulation. Most parents don’t even know what the instep of the foot is. I have created a post where I explain this in more detail:

The Best Shoes For High Instep – Stop Getting The Wrong Shoe Size For Your Child!

5- Heel Fit: Make sure the heel of the foot fits snugly without any heel slip. This allows the child to walk and run comfortably with every step he or she takes.

If these 5 points check-out properly, your child will have a good fit! I assure you that this is really hard to do, that is why it is important for you to take your child to your local kids’ shoe store to have their feet properly measured.

If you don’t have a local kid’s shoe store in your area, feel free to message me for any doubts or concerns you might have about your kids’ feet!

The Best Children Shoes

Shoes With Shoe Laces Or Velcro Closure For My Child?

The first thing to consider before buying your kids’ shoes is whether your child needs a shoe with shoe laces or with a velcro fastener. Obviously, velcro sneakers gives your child the independence of taking the shoes on and off theirselves, and you won’t have to worry about the shoe laces coming undone all the time! However, shoe laces do provide more support and stability, so if your child has any stability issues or needs extra support, you should definitely consider getting him a pair of shoes with shoe laces.

Choosing a shoe that is made of breathable, lightweight material is critical for your child feet to properly breathe.

I have fitted thousands of children shoes, and I know which shoes fit better than others. If you don’t have a local shoe store in your area, below you can find the best shoes for kids’!

The shoes below will fit a child that has narrow, medium, or wide feet (choose the width accordingly).

This first selection of shoes fit “short”, which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.

The shoes below will fit a child with medium, wide, or extra wide feet.

This selection of shoes fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.

These shoes have a firm heel counter, good support, and the strong structure to be worn for everyday activities. They also have a very deep-end, which guarantees that it will fit a child with a high instep!

It is important to note that these shoes are also available in medium, wide, and extra wide widths!

Shoe shopping for your child can be a very frustrating experience depending on where you take your child to get fitted for shoes. If the person helping you doesn’t know what he is doing, your child might end up wearing the wrong pair of shoes!

NEVER assume that the shoe fits if your child doesn’t complain about them! Most children will not speak up even though the shoes feel too big or too tight! It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size.

Children feet change with age, so always keep a close eye to your kids’ feet. DO NOT assume that just because your child has been wearing a wide or an extra wide width shoe, he or she will always need a wider shoe! Some children’s feet tend to narrow down as they grow, while others will stay wide.

It is extremely important to periodically take your child to the shoe store to have his or her feet checked, to make sure they didn’t have a growth spurt. Did you know that getting the correct sock size is just as important as getting the correct shoe size? Remember to change your kids’ socks size every time your child needs a different shoe size!

Read this post that explains how to make sure you get the correct sock size and the best socks for kids:

 The Importance Of Wearing Socks – Grippers Or No Grippers?

Kids Shoe Style

The Best Shoes For Kids’ – The Secret Revealed!!!

I explain the importance of properly fitted shoes and how to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size! I also describe the best type of everyday shoes for children!

Never use hand-me-down shoes!  I actually wrote a post about hand-me-down shoes, and if you are handing down shoes you should read it before you continue doing it:

Second Hand Shoes For Kids – Stop Hurting Your Child’s Feet

Please take care of your kids’ feet by providing them with the correct shoe size! Allow them to play and run comfortably in their shoes!

Do you have a local children’s shoe store in your area? Where do you purchase your kids’ shoes? Have you ever purchased kids’ shoes online? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so we can all benefit it from them!


I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kid’s feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kids’ feet and get my guide for free: The 5 Most Common Mistakes Parents Make when Buying Their Kids’ Shoes

22 Comments on How To Buy Shoes For Kids – Stop Hurting Your Kids’ Feet!

  1. Hi Juan
    Another great post. I always bought shoes for my children depending on what the shoe measure device said. Now I know that numbers don’t mean that much when shopping for kids’ shoes. Can you tell me what are the best shoes for a child that has extra extra wide feet? Thanks in advance!

  2. This is such good information. I feel like I’m constantly shopping for shoes for my son and daughter. You are so right about the big shoe stores. I’ve gone to two different shoe stores and they’ve given me completely different shoe sizes for my children. I think we’ve finally gotten their sizing right, but it took a long time for us to get there. They’re now going through a phase that they’re growing so fast it is at times hard to keep up. I’ll use your advice next time I’m out shoe shopping with them (which could be next week) 🙂

  3. At the rate my children’s feet grow, OMG! It’s hard to keep up. I find myself buying a pair of shoes at least once a month for both my son and daughter. My daughter is 2, and my son is 8.

    Now, maybe I’m not measuring their feet correctly, but sometimes I think the shoe is too tight too soon, and others they might be too loose. Maybe it’s the brand? And I like you, I don’t believe in hand me down shoes. What can I do about getting the right measurements?

  4. Hello Juan,

    I know how uncomfortable it is to wear the wrong shoe size.I learned a lot from your article on how to get a right shoe size of a kid. I don’t have a local kids’ shoe store in my area so I always buy my kids’ shoes online. How can I make sure they are wearing the correct shoe size?

  5. Wow! Awesome advise! I always did measure my son’s bigger foot, and then I made him put the new shoes on both feet, walk around and run in them to make sure they were comfortable. I never did measure width or really worry about that.

    Now I found out he has an extra wide foot! They are a little harder to find but I love that you describe a selection of them. Do you know where I can find them online? For a good price?

  6. I’m quite busy so I like to order my kids shoes online. I buy the New Balance brand which has fitted them before and I measure their feet to know which shoe size they need. Most of the time I end up returning the shoes because they don’t fit. Is there a set of guidelines I can follow to make sure I can get them the right size?

    • The only way to guarantee you are getting your children the correct shoe size is to take them to your local kids’ shoe store to have their feet properly measured. I do provide parents with a set of guidelines if they don’t have a kids’ shoe store in their area that they trust.

      You can follow those guidelines here in this post: How To Buy Shoes Online- The Secret Revealed

  7. Thank you for this informative article on how to buy shoes for kids. The guidelines that you have recommended will help me choose the correct shoe size for my kids.I don’t have a local kids’ shoe shop where I live so I need to order my children’ shoes online

    My daughter’s feet are really wide and I always have a hard time finding her shoes. You know which are the best shoes for children that have wide feet?

  8. Hi,
    My son’s feet seem to be growing by the minute. For me it’s not only the size but the durability of the shoes as well. My son can’t wait to get on the play ground or where ever he sees fit to kick things around and do the stuff boys do with their feet. Sometimes I have had to get him another pair of shoes within two weeks. Will getting his feet properly measured make his shoes last longer?

  9. Hey Juan

    It is always a pleasure reading your posts as all of the information is really relevant. It is always very tricky to find the right pair of shoes – I have experienced it many times. My son is 8 and it is really a trouble to find the right shoes. First, it is due to him having no interest in fitting the shoes and secondly due to his very wide feet it is a challenge to find fitting shoes. I have some questions:
    1. What do you think of Nike shoes? I see you haven’t mentioned them in your post about best shoes – I have bought Nike shoes for my boy for few years and they seem to be quite OK. But as you say – it is hard to understand as kids don’t tell how they feel in their shoes.
    2. As kid feet are growing very fast I usually bought only each second size so for certain period of time the shoes were a size bigger than they should have been. You mention that it is not good that shoes are too big – but what exactly is the problem with too big shoes?

    • Arta,

      We sell Nike shoes in the kids’shoe store that I work for because it is such a popular brand for children, and some children will refuse to wear any other brand of shoes. However, I always try to show children other type of shoes that are more supportive and have better structure.

      Nike shoes will NOT fit a child with a wide foot, and they tend to be very flimsy compared to other shoe brands such as New Balance, Asics, or Saucony just to name a few. If your child is somewhat serious about running or he is an active child, I will advise you to stay away from Nike shoes.

      To answer your second question, shoes that are too big can cause your child to fall, since you will be compromising his/her stability. Also,when a shoe it’s too big, your child’s foot will move too much inside the shoe, creating friction between his feet and the shoes, which will lead to blisters, calluses, or corns. You can find more information about the consequences of not getting the right shoe size for your child in this post: Foot Problems From Shoes – The Nasty Bits

  10. Well now you hit a nerve. I have 3 kids and shoes are always on the top of the complaint list. They feel fine in the store then after a few days the shoes start to hurt. I appreciate all the great tips on proper sizing. I never even thought about proper sock size. And after reading your article my youngest won’t have to worry about getting hand me down shoes any more. Thank you

    • Sorry to hear about that! Make sure you ask your child to walk and run around before he or she leaves the store. That will increase the chances of them being 100% sure of liking how the shoes feel on their feet.

      Definitely make sure you get them the right type and sock size. You can see the best seamless socks and how to get the right sock size here: The Importance Of Wearing Socks – Grippers Or No Grippers?

  11. I love how helpful you are and how much information you provide on shoes. I never would have known most of the most important things but you lay them all out clearly right in front of me. I am going to recommend you to everyone I know with young kids and hopefully offer them some insight on where to look!

    • Brad,

      Thank you. It is important to take care of our kids’ feet since they are their foundation for their entire body!

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