The Best Place to Find Kids' Shoes
for all Foot Shapes and Foot Problems

How to Choose the Correct Children’s Shoe Size Online – Find Out Why None of the Shoes Seem to Fit!


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated and revised for accuracy on May 2022 and reflects up-to-date information on how to choose the correct children’s shoe size online.

Most specialized children’s shoe stores are now closed, and shoe shopping has been done mostly online. COVID-19 has accelerated this movement towards online shopping and stores closing, leaving many parents confused, as it’s very hard to shop for children’s shoes online.

Most of these families end up buying multiple pairs of shoes just to end up empty-handed.

There is also a shortage of inventory that many shoe companies are going through, so finding shoes in different widths such as wide (W) or extra wide (XW) has become a bigger challenge.

I have been fitting children’s shoes for many years so I will be able to show you how to order the correct shoe size online.

Why Do You Keep Getting the Wrong Shoe Size for Your Child?

Don’t assume that simply because the shoe size is the right size it will automatically deliver a proper fit.

Most families measure their children’s feet width (ball width) and length (overall length). Their next step is to take those measurements to find a shoe marked with the same length and width and believe that they are all done with the shoe fitting process. Unfortunately, you will most likely end up ordering the wrong shoe size if you follow only those steps.

First of all, you are missing a key component to determine your child’s foot shape which is the instep height. The instep is the top part of the foot, and when it’s high, it makes it a lot more challenging to find shoes that fit. I will explain this in more detail shortly and show you how to figure out if your child has a high instep or not.

Let me tell you the reason why the shoes that you are ordering online are not fitting the shape of your child’s feet: Your child’s foot length and width might not necessarily match that specific shoe style that you order online with the same proportions.

All Shoes Fit Differently

Did you know that a shoe size 10 wide (W) made by New Balance will fit a lot different compared to a shoe size 10 wide (W) made by Saucony? Even among the same shoe brands shoes will fit differently. Not all New Balance shoes in a size 10 wide will fit the same, some will fit shorter or longer than others, while some will fit narrower or wider than others.

For example, let’s say that your child’s feet are wide and they measure a size 10 in length. If you order a Saucony shoe in a size 10 wide it might be too short or too narrow, while a New Balance shoe in a size 10 wide might fit the shape of your child’s feet perfectly.

Retrieving your child’s proper length and width are only the beginning of proper size and fit.

My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes – 10 Years of Shoe Fitting Experience

I have been working for a children’s shoe store that specializes in helping a lot of children with “complicated” foot shapes as well as foot conditions (flat feet, rolled ankles, low muscle tone, hypermobility).


We work closely with pediatricians, physical, and occupational therapists to fit children in the correct types of shoes as well as orthotics.

Instep Height: The Third Dimension of the Foot

Most parents have no idea what the instep of the foot is. I usually describe the instep as the top part of the foot or the total foot volume that needs to be fitted inside the shoes.

Take a look at the image below for better visualization purposes:


You can have two children with identical feet in length and width, but one child might have a lean-bony foot while the other child might have a fat-fleshy one. This means that these children will require different shoe sizes.

Can We Achieve a “Perfect” Shoe Fit?

Most shoe fitters I have spoken with tell me that there is no such thing as a “perfect” shoe fit. I strongly disagree with this because when I am done with the shoe fitting process and the child walks out of the store wearing his/her new pair of shoes, I know in my mind that I did everything possible to achieve a perfect fit.

It is a fact that no child has two feet that are exactly the same size, shape, or proportions. All children have “mismated” feet.

Some children also have foot conditions such as flat feet while some others have high arches. Some children have regular insteps while others have high insteps. However, if the shoe fitter is aware of how each specific shoe fits it’s possible to find the perfect pair of shoes for that child, no matter his/her foot shape or foot condition.

How to Order the Correct Children’s Shoe Size Online: Achieve a “Perfect” Fit

I came up with a resource that helps those families who don’t have a specialized children’s shoe store in their area retrieve their child’s exact foot length, width, and instep height.

This resource is free as I want to be able to help families from over the world make sure that their children are wearing the correct shoe size, which is extremely important to overall foot health.

You can use my free resource by going to the link below:

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

Should Parents Buy Foot Measuring Devices to Have at Home?

The two most popular shoe measuring devices are the Brannock and the Ritz stick. These are the devices that you usually see at most specialized shoe stores.

Some families buy these devices to measure their children’s feet frequently, but while these devices are very simple to use, if they are not used properly you will end up ordering the wrong shoe size.

Final Thoughts

The purpose of measuring your child’s feet is not to determine the precise shoe size required, but to give us an indication of the shoe size that your child might need.

Remember that all shoes fit a little bit differently, even among the same shoe brands.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are unsure about how a specific shoe style fits. It’s highly likely that I have fitted that shoe before and I will be able to tell you what shoe size to order:



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

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.