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Kids’ Shoe Size Chart – Why They Are Irrelevant


How many times have you found yourself trying to figure out what shoe size your child needs? Have you had your child’s foot measured at your local shoe store or with one of the many kids’ shoe size chart devices available online? Many different kids’ shoe size charts have been developed and claim to accurately measure your kids’ foot size.

Stride Rite is one of the shoe companies that actually came up with an iPad app that claims to accurately measure your kid’s foot at any place and at any time. I was actually excited when I heard about this because I noticed how most fitting children’s shoe stores have been closing down, and parents end up buying their kids’ shoes online.

In addition to the Stride Rite app, there have been several entrepreneurs that also tried to create an app that will provide parents with their child’s exact foot size.

How convenient will this be? Being able to figure out your child’s foot size in seconds and be able to order shoes from the comfort of your own house.

Unfortunately, such a device does not yet exist, and please do not waste any money on them. This is mainly because the foot is three-dimensional and thus any two-dimensional device such as a ruler or Brannock device® would only give an approximate value. Any online kids’ shoe size chart or app is irrelevant in determining shoe size. Let me explain why.

Those devices are not able to measure the instep of your child’s feet. Do you know what the instep is? The instep is the top part of the feet, and when it’s high for example, it requires you to find wider and deeper shoes. Take a look at the image below for clarification:


You can’t possibly provide your child with the correct shoe size if you don’t know whether your child has a high instep or not.

Those apps and size charts will be able to give you a close estimate of your child’s foot size.

My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes – Over a Decade of Shoe Fitting Experience!

I have been using the Brannock device (standard foot measuring tool) for the last 10 years to measure children’s feet at the shoe store that I work for, and I am never 100% sure which final shoe size the child will get until I start trying different ones. Measuring your kids’ feet is only the starting point in determining what shoe size your child will end up wearing.


It is important to understand that no two pairs of shoes will fit the same way. If we try on two shoes with the same shoe length and shoe width, but made by different shoe companies, they will fit differently. Even between the same shoe company, different styles of shoes will fit differently.

This is mainly because children’s shoes can run short, long, narrow, or wide, and depending on how they run, you will need to adjust the final shoe size that you get for your child. Sometimes children might end up getting a whole size longer or a whole size smaller than the size that they measured at the foot measuring scale, which leads to the parent asking:

Are my kid’s feet shrinking? The answer, obviously, is NO! We had to get a smaller size simply because that particular style of shoe runs really long.

Have you ever tried the Japanese kids’ shoe brand named Tsukihoshi? This is one of the best examples since all their styles fit really long. But the same is true for certain shoe styles in other shoe companies.


Why Is It So Hard To Figure Out Your Kids’ Shoe Size?

Do you think that shoe companies are making your life more difficult by not translating your kids’ foot size into the correct shoe size? This might be true, but the bottom line is that you must stop buying shoes for your children based on what their feet measure.

Let’s take a look at the famous children’s shoe brand Tsukihoshi again. I love how this brand fits and they make supportive and lightweight shoes, but it is one of the most complicated kids’ shoe brands to fit.

This is why I always recommend parents take their children to their local children’s shoe store that they trust, where a shoe fitter can properly measure their kids’ feet and find shoes accordingly. The issue is that most stores have been closing down and parents need to end up buying their kids’ shoes online. There is nothing wrong with this, but you must know your child’s exact foot size to know what size to order.

I created a resource that showcases the best-fitting children’s shoe stores by state:

The Best Kids’ Shoe Stores in the United States – Where To Go for Proper Fittings

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to identify a shoe store in your area, then proceed to take a look at an article I created that describes the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home:

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

In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.


According to research done by the shoe company Clarks, I am sure you have heard about this shoe brand before since they make kids’ and adult shoes, at least four million children are walking around wearing the wrong shoe size. Parents do not realize that by having their children wear the wrong-sized shoe, they are making their children more prone to developing foot, leg and back problems that may last a lifetime.

Some of the short-term issues include blisters, calluses and ingrown toenails, while foot deformities, knee and posture are some of the long-term problems.

What Are the Best Sneakers for Kids?

I wrote another article where I describe the best shoes for kids. The shoes are all made of high-quality materials, and they supportive but lightweight and flexible at the same time. They will also accommodate any type of child’s foot since they come in medium, wide, and extra wide widths. Go to the link below:

The Best Kids’ Sneakers – Learn About the Best Shoes for Children Ages 3 through 10

What are some of the most common reasons why so many children are walking around with shoes that don’t fit?

  • Neglect
  • Budget constraints
  • Convenience
  • Misinformation
  • Fashion

Certain podiatry experts state that many parents neglect their children’s feet because they simply are not aware of the problems that an ill-fitting pair of shoes can create. The research done by Clarks also stated that only 40% of the parents interviewed knew whether their children’s shoes were properly fitted and supportive.


Saving Money On Your Kids’ Shoes – False Economy!

Money is a major concern for every individual. Did you know that two-fifths of the parents confessed to buying shoes that were too big for their kids so that they would grow into them over time to save money? Buying bigger shoes doesn’t mean that the child will wear them longer, trust me.

It’s always important to provide growing children with a certain amount of growing room in their shoes (3/8 of an inch). However, a shoe that is too long will wear differently than a shoe that is properly fitted. Shoes that are fitted too long will allow your kids’ feet to move too much inside the shoes, and that constant movement and friction will lead to several foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.

Some cheaper shoes sold at places like Walmart or Target are sold without any expert advice and are terribly made. I have found cardboard inside the shoes they sold!

Remember that is always better to take your child to specialized kids’ shoe stores, where a shoe fitter will make sure your children get the perfect pair of shoes and will have all different price ranges to choose from.


Is It Safe to Buy Shoes Online? – Let’s Find Out!

Purchasing shoes at online stores is more convenient than taking your child to be properly fitted at a specialized store. At the store I work for, parents travel 30 to 40 miles to have their kid’s feet properly fitted. I know it sounds crazy, and to be honest, these children do require specialized attention since they wear orthotics, but I just wanted to give you an example of how important kids’ feet are.

There are a lot of parents who do travel long distances just to make sure that their children’s shoes are properly fitted. You should not let the convenience of a certain store or online retailer prevent you from getting the right shoe size for your child.

Parents, please keep in mind that a kid’s shoe size chart will never replace the Brannock device (standard foot measuring tool), and the experience that comes with fitting and knowing how shoes run (long, short, narrow, wide).

Do Certain Parents Neglect the Importance of Shoes?

Any parent who complains about the cost of shoes is neglecting their importance. I have heard some parents complaining about how expensive kids’ shoes are. Yes, some shoes are more expensive than others, but parents have a choice as to which type to buy; they are not being forced to buy the more expensive ones.

You can find an everyday pair of high-quality made and supportive shoes that retail between 35 to 45 dollars. Assuming that you will be replacing these shoes every 4 months, a total investment of 105 to 135 dollars a year is required for caring for your child’s feet. One pair of supportive shoes is all your child needs, and I have been fitting all sorts of different shoe brands for kids, from the more expensive ones, to the more affordable ones.

Keep in mind that more expensive shoes don’t automatically translate into better shoes for your child!

I am familiar with most of the brands and shoes in the market since I handle approximately one hundred fittings/try-ons per week. If you want to learn which are the best shoe brands for children, take a look at the articles below:

The Best Shoe Brands for Toddlers – The 3 Most Durable and Affordable Brands!

The Best Shoe Brands for Kids- The 5 Most Durable and Affordable Brands

Are You Having a Hard Time Finding a Specific Pair of Shoes for Your Child?

Do not hesitate to contact me if you are having a hard time finding a particular shoe style for your child: fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com 

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how narrow or wide your kids’ feet are, there is always at least one particular shoe style out there that will fit the shape of their feet perfectly, and I will help you find it.

Do you use a kids’ shoe size chart to measure your children’s feet or do you take them to your local kids’ shoe store? Have you found it hard to find the correct shoe size for your child’s feet? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below so we can all 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.

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10 Comments on Kids’ Shoe Size Chart – Why They Are Irrelevant

  1. I can understand why some manufacturers are generous wiht dress clothes sizes in order the flatter the wearer into thinking they’ve lost weight, but there seems no logical reason to keep sizings so different from one brand to the next – or is it just a ploy to get us to go back to them because we know how their shoes fit? One of my children has had sevearl ops on his feet and finding shoes to fit is often a challenge – if we could know that the same size ‘fits all’ we coudl buy on line but it is currently impossible without ordering several different sizes and sending back what doesn’t fit (thereby inceasing costs for us and the sender).

    • Sarah,

      Even if you have found a brand that fits your kids foot well, that doesn’t mean that every single shoe from that brands fits the same. Every shoe style in the same brand fits different! Big online retailers are offering free shipping, but it can be a waste of time and money to keep shipping shoes back and forth. If there is a particular shoe style that you are not sure about how it fits, you can always contact me, since I am familiar with all brands and styles,

  2. This article is very helpful for me at least. I am a kind of a parent that used to bring the kids shoes a size bigger so they can wear them for longer and also to be comfortable for them, i didn’t know that wearing a size bigger can cause a problem. i would like to know whether the cheap shoes found on line or in the supermarkets harmful for their feet even though if they were the right size and how to know exactly if the shoes my kids wearing are of the right size or not?

    • Ahmed,

      I am glad that you know now the consequences of wearing a shoe that is too long. We definitely want to leave some growing room for children to grow into the shoe, but we don’t want too much growing room since that can compromise their stability and create a myriad of problems. The reason why online shoes might be cheaper is that you might be looking at an older style, which means that there is nothing wrong the shoe itself. In order for the shoe to be the right size, it must fit width and length wise. You want to make sure there is no pressure around the small toe, and there should be certain amount of space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Hope this helps!

  3. Hi Juan,
    Thank you for the interesting article. There were few times when I did buy shoes for my son basing on the size, and nearly all of those times I had to change these to other size. Consequently, now I buy shoes for him only when he tries the shoes on. For us this is proven to be the wisest thing to do to avoid changing sizes back and forth.
    Looking forward for more interesting articles!

  4. I love that you mention the importance of forgoing the fashion trend and wearing shoes that are supportive. My younger sister used to only wear shoes that were “fashionable”and now as an adult, she has extreme issues with her feet that require her to visit a podiatrist every month for the rest of her life.

    • Amberlee,

      It is important. Just like your sister, I met a lot of people who did not wear good supportive shoes as children, and now are facing back and leg problems. This is not the case for every individual, but why take a chance when it comes to our children feet? Thank you for sharing!

  5. I have Learnt something very valuable today. I never really thought about that. I too was one of those parents who would go and buy a pair of shoes either a size bigger or a half size bigger because I didn’t want to have to be visiting the shoes store anytime soon. It is good to know that there are people out there with this type of knowledge and is passionate enough to share it with the world.

    • Reneea,

      Getting shoes that are too long can create several complications to your children feet. You are not just compromising their stability, but you are also making them more prone to getting blisters.

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