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How to Buy Shoes for Kids – Stop Hurting Your Kids’ Feet!


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated and revised for accuracy on April 2022 and reflects up-to-date information on how to buy shoes for kids.

Are you tired of having to return your kids’ shoes back and forth? Do you feel like you waste a lot of time and money buying your kids’ shoes?

The most common mistake parents make is when buying shoes for their children is thinking that once they get their children’s feet measured, that size automatically translates into their correct shoe size. The size that your children measure on the foot measuring scale is only a starting point when trying to find their correct shoe size.

I have noticed how most parents only care about how much growing room there is in the front of the shoes, but the length of the foot is not the only thing you need to consider when measuring your kids’ feet.  Many additional considerations must be noted to guarantee the feel, fit, wear, and comfort of the shoe. For instance, did you know that the instep of your child’s feet plays a key role in how the shoes feel?

Do you know what the instep of the foot is? The instep is the top part of the foot, and when it’s high, it makes it more challenging to find shoes that fit. Take a look at the image below to identify where the instep of the foot is located:


If your child happens to have a high instep, you will need to find deeper and wider shoes.

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.

My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes

I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years now that focuses on children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. We carry some of the most supportive children’s shoes and orthotics, and I am familiar with which shoe brands and which shoe styles are better than others.


Please avoid taking your child to be fitted for shoes at places such as Nordstrom, Stride Rite (most sorts have closed down), 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 buying your kids’ shoes from these stores in another article I wrote. Go to the link below:

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

Providing your children with the correct shoe size is extremely important if you want to keep their feet and legs healthy. The wrong shoe size might lead to all sorts of foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns, as well as foot and leg pain.

Shoes cannot be too short, too long, too narrow, or too wide, they must fit just right.

I will show you the most effective way of how to buy shoes for kids if you don’t have a local children’s shoe store in your area.


How to Buy Shoes for Kids – In 5 Simple Steps

If you don’t have a children’s shoe store in your area, there is a set of guidelines that you can follow to make sure you provide your child with 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 foot measurement devices for kids:

Shoe Size Measuring Device – Stop Buying the Wrong Shoe Size

Not all parents can afford to invest 50 dollars in a foot measuring device. If you take your child’s foot measurements at home with a ruler or measuring tape I can input those numbers on my Brannock Device and I will get back to you with your child’s exact foot size. I also will need 2 pictures of your child’s foot to tell whether your child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I explain how this process works in a different article called:

How to Measure Your Kids’ Foot – 2 Simple Steps to Determine Foot Length and Foot Width

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 exact foot size.

3- Always make sure to measure both feet —most of us have 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 types 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.

Take a look at all of the extra foot volume that needs to be fitted inside the shoes when a child has a high instep:


Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Don’t worry! I will show you a selection of the best fitting shoes for children, which will be supportive, lightweight, flexible, provide extra depth to fit the volume of your child’s foot, and they will be available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide.

How to Tell If the Shoes Fit – Get It Right!

There are 4 steps you must follow to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size:

1- Length Fit: Allow approximately 0.3 inches or 0.7 centimeters of space from the end of the longest toe. There is a trick you can use to check this. Remove the original insoles of the shoes and have your child stand upon them to be able to visualize this better.

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

3- Instep Fit: Always check for any tight fit around this area. This can happen especially 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!

4- 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 4 points check out properly, your child is wearing the correct shoe size. I assure you that this is really hard to do, that is why you need to take your child to your local kids’ shoe store to have their feet properly measured.

I have fitted thousands of children’s shoes, and I know which shoes fit and hold up better than others from having fitted the shoes myself. If you don’t have a local shoe store in your area, below you can find a selection of the best shoes for kids. The shoes I describe below are supportive, lightweight, flexible, breathable, and durable.

I only review shoes that I have fitted before since that is the only way for me to tell how well-made the shoes, the amount of support that they provide, and how they fit. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

The Best Kids’ Shoes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Medium – Wide – Extra Wide

The Best Kids’ Shoes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Narrow – Medium 

Unsure About What Shoe Size You Should Order?

In each of the descriptions of the shoes I indicate whether you need to order a half a size or a whole size bigger than your child’s foot size to provide the correct amount of growing room.

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 the shoes. Most children will not speak up even when the shoes feel too tight or too big. It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size.

Children’s feet change with age, so always keep a close eye on your kids’ feet. Don’t assume that just because your children have been always wearing a wider shoe their feet will always stay wide. Some children’s feet tend to narrow down as they grow, while others might stay wide.

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.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly via my e-mail if you have any further questions or if you need a different pair of shoes for your child. My e-mail address is:


Do you have a local children’s shoe store in your area? Where do you purchase your kids’ shoes? Have you ever purchased your kids’ shoes online before? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so other parents can benefit 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 kids feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

Do You Buy Your Kids’ Shoes Online?

Subscribe and get my personalized shoe size chart for free to help you find what size to order online.

Shoe Sizing Chart

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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