How to Determine Shoe Size – Why Your Child is Probably Wearing the Wrong Shoe Size

How to determine shoe size is a matter of both length and width, the latter being a detail that most parents tend to ignore. If you are going to be getting your kids’ shoes online you must know your child’s exact foot size.

I am always emphasizing to parents to keep one thing in mind: It doesn’t matter how many features a particular shoe provides, if the shoes are not the correct size (length and width), your child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer. With that said, do you always have a hard time finding the correct shoe size for your child?

Several online tools claim to provide your child with the most accurate foot size. Please don’t waste any money on those tools. These tools are ineffective because they are not able to capture two key factors that determine the final foot size: instep and width.

I can tell you exactly which shoe size your child needs depending on the shoe brand or shoe style that you like, but first we need to be 100% sure of your child’s foot size. I created a 2 simple step method that will retrieve your child’s foot size, and you can learn about it in a different article I wrote called:

1️⃣ Measuring Your Child’s Exact Foot Length

Make sure that your child is standing straight, and then place a measuring tape or ruler below your child’s heels. It’s important that you measure your child’s feet while standing, as on weight-bearing the foot becomes longer. Measure both feet as we all have one foot larger than the other one.

Measurement Box

2️⃣ Pictures of Your Child’s Foot Width:

The pictures below will help me determine whether your child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet.  Also, the pictures will help me see whether your child has a high instep and additional information such as whether your child has flat feet or not. Below you can find examples of how the pictures should look like:

Angle Box
Angle Box
Angle Box

Please note that I won’t need the measurements of your child’s foot width, the images will be sufficient to help me determine whether your child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet.

Feel free to include in your email any additional information I should know about your child’s feet:

[email protected]

You will then receive a response within 24 hours with your child’s exact foot length, shape, and specific shoe recommendations as needed.

How Much Does This Service Cost?

This service is completely free. I am passionate about fitting children’s shoes as I truly believe that the correct type of shoes can be life changing. Children’s feet are constantly developing, and what happens to their feet during their childhood will affect their physique as they grow older. 

If you wish to support the work of Fitting Children’s Shoes, you can Donate Here. Your support helps ensure that families around the world can find the correct shoes for their children, regardless of their foot shape or condition.

Most Common Mistakes Parents make

The most common mistake parents make is assuming that once they figure out their child’s foot size, that size will automatically translate into the shoe size that the child needs.

Any experienced shoe fitter will tell you that shoe sizes are inconsistent, and that different shoes in identical sizes and widths will measure and fit differently. For example, a shoe size 10 in a medium width (“M”) will fit differently depending on if the shoe was made by the shoe company New Balance, Saucony, or Stride Rite. Even among the same shoe brand, shoe styles will fit differently.

Why are Shoe Sizes Inconsistent? – There are Many Reasons

The reasons for this inconsistency are many, and some of them are:

1️⃣ Style affects size: A pair of New Balance shoes in a given size and width will fit differently than a pair of Saucony shoes of the same size and width.

2️⃣ Materials can affect size: Two shoes of identical style and size, but one with a leather upper and the other one with urethane upper, will often fit differently.

3️⃣ Construction/Shoe Manufactures affect size: The process by which a shoe is made can sometimes influence size.

4️⃣ Lasts affect size: Lasts are designed on countless different shapes, each with its own volume or inner space allowance, which in turn affects the dimensions and the fit.

5️⃣ Heel height affects size: Shoes on high versus low heels will fit differently on the same size.

I know you are probably thinking that you didn’t need to know all that, but I wanted to break it down for you so you have a better idea of why shoe sizes are so inconsistent. It is not to make your life harder when finding shoes for your child, trust me!

While size is obviously important, parents tend to over-magnify its importance by the assumption that if the shoe is the right size, it will automatically deliver the proper fit. This is untrue.

Knowing your children’s foot is just a starting point in realizing what size they will end up wearing. For example, as a standard rule of thumb, I recommend providing children with a certain amount of growing room —3/16 of an inch or 0.4 centimeters— of space between the child’s longest toe and the end of the shoes.

While working at the shoe store, once I move the child’s foot away from the Brannock device (standard foot measuring tool) the parents immediately ask: what is my child’s shoe size?

My answer tends to be: Your child measures a foot size 7, but he/she might need a half size longer or even a whole size longer depending on the shoe style that you choose. Sometimes they might even need a smaller shoe size than the size that they actually measured (if the shoes fit long).

The good news is that I am familiar with how most shoes fit, so if you are in doubt about how a particular shoe style fits, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will be able to help you.

Breaking In Shoes- Necessary or a Way to Wrap Up the Sale?

I am sure you have heard of the term “break in period”. After fitting children’s shoes for 10 years I never understood what the break-in-period means. I believe salespeople use that term as a way of wrapping up the sale, and parents give in when they are feeling impatient.

I have an adamant belief that shoes should be comfortable before your child leaves the shoe store.  One of the main reasons people break-in-shoes is because they are not aware of the true size and shape of their feet.

I always make sure that the child walks and runs on a hard floor surface to make sure the shoes feel good.  Next time you are at your local children’s shoe store buying new shoes: Test-Don’t Break!

Hand-Me-Down Shoes – Don’t Do It!

Some parents come to the store with hand-me-down shoes that were passed through family members or friends asking my opinion on whether I believe the child can wear them.

Once a child has worn a pair of shoes, these tend to mold to the shape of their feet, which might have an impact on the shape of your child’s foot.

It’s important to understand that there is no such thing as two feet alike. We might have two different children with a foot size 10 with extra wide feet. However, the volume of their feet might be different. The instep of the foot also plays a key role when fitting children’s shoes. If you don’t know what the instep of the foot is, you can’t possibly be getting your child the correct shoe size. Take a look at where the instep of the foot is located:

Some children might have a high instep, which requires wider and deeper shoes.

Another reason why I don’t recommend hand-me-down shoes is that if you pay close attention and look at the heel counter of the shoes —the back part that provides ankle support— you will notice how in most cases it will be stretched out.  Most children tend to take their shoes off without undoing the velcro strap or undoing the shoelaces.

How Often Does Your Child Needs a New Pair of Shoes?

My answer is: Before the shoes become outgrown.  The frequency of new shoe purchases for children is a budget problem for many families. In fact, the human tendency to postpone buying new shoes is one of the most threatening problems for healthy foot development.

Because young children’s shoes are worn for such short periods and hence never wear out, the tendency of some parents is to allow the child to continue to wear the shoes, even though they might be outgrown.

Do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any further questions or if you are having a hard time finding a specific pair of shoes for your child.