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Kids Shoe Size Chart- Why They Are Irrelevant

Check My Shoe Size

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 shoe size charts have been developed and claim to provide you and your child with the most accurate shoe fit.

Stride Rite is one of the shoe companies that 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 this because we all know that salespeople can’t seem to properly figure out how to measure kids’ feet at their retail stores! In fact, I wrote a post where I describe why you should probably STOP taking your children to be measured for shoes to these type of stores. The post is called:

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

I have been working at a children’s shoe store for almost 6 years now, and our staff specializes in children with foot issues and also provides regular fitting. We are one of the best kids’ shoe store in the country, and pediatricians and physical therapists are constantly referring children to our store to be fitted with the correct pair of shoes.

Parents: A device that can accurately tell you the exact shoe size that your child needs DOES NOT EXIST! 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 is irrelevant in determining shoe size. Let me explain WHY.

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 companies, different styles of shoes WILL fit differently!

I have been using the Brannock device for the last five years to measure children’s feet at the shoe store that I work for and I am never 100 percent sure which shoe size the customer will select until after they start trying on different shoes. Measuring your kids’ feet is only the STARTING point in determining what shoe size your child will end up wearing.

This is mainly due to the fact that certain shoes run longer and wider than others. Sometimes a child will end up with a whole size longer or a whole size smaller than what he or she measured, 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 company named Tsukihoshi? This is one of the best examples since all their styles fit really long. But the same is true in companies such as PLAE, New Balance, Keen, Stride Rite, and many more.

Kids Shoe Size

Why Is It So Hard To Figure Out My 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 child based on what his or her foot size measures.

Let’s take a look at the famous children shoe brand Tsukihoshi again. I love how this brand fits. Their shoes are lightweight and flexible, but it is one of the most complicated brands to figure out the correct shoe size. In most cases, I have ended up fitting a child in a whole size smaller than what he measured, since the brand’s shoes tend to run REALLY long.

My advice to you is that you should STOP asking about your child’s shoe size.  Instead, make sure that he tries the shoes on, and go for what fits, not for the size measured! I always recommend to parents that they take their children to their local kids’ shoe store, where a shoe fitter will be able to properly measure and find the correct pair of shoes for your child. However, several parents have emailed me and explained how they don’t have a kids’ shoe store in their area.

For these parents, I wrote a post were I describe how to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size. The post is called:

How To Measure Kids Shoe Size From Home – In Less Than 30 Seconds!

Child Foot Measure

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 wearing the wrong shoe sizes. Parents do not realize that by having their children wear the wrong-sized shoe, they are creating foot, leg and back problems that may last a lifetime.

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

I wrote a post where I describe the best shoes for children. By “best” I mean those made of high quality materials, are more supportive and  breathable, and will accommodate any type of child’s foot since they come in medium, wide, and extra wide widths! The post is called: 

The Best Kids Sneakers – Learn About The Best Shoes For Children Ages 3 Through 10

What are some of the reasons why so many children are walking around with shoes that do not 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.

Wrong Size Shoe

Saving Money On Shoes – False Economy!

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

We always want to leave a certain amount of growing room in our children’s shoes. However, a shoe that is too long will wear differently than a shoe that is properly fitted. Shoes that are too long, or too short, can also create a myriad of problems such as injuries and blisters.

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 have all different price ranges to choose from!

Saving Money On Shoes

The Convenience Of Shopping Online – Go The Extra Mile!

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! If your child wears a pair of  orthotics and you are usure about which shoes will work best, I wrote a post where I describe the best shoes for kids that wear orthotics!

The post is called:

 Shoes With Removable Insoles For Orthotics – Make Sure You Get The Right Fit

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

Fashion Shoes For Your Child – Wear Them Wisely

Fashion trends sometimes mean wearing a pair of shoes that might not be the best choice for your child’s feet. At school, peer pressure sometimes makes children wear certain shoes that might not be the best choice for their feet! This shouldn’t mean that you should  deny your child and prevent him/her from wearing stylish shoes.

They can still wear fashion shoes as long as they wear them for a short period of time, and then switch to their more supportive everyday sneakers!

Kids Shoe Size

Do 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 good supportive shoes that retails for 42 dollars. Assuming that you will be replacing these shoes every 4 months, a total investment of 126 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! A shoe that costs more doesn’t automatically translate into a better shoe!

Do you want to know your kid’s shoe size and which brands and styles will fit his or her foot best? Then take them to your local children shoe store and have them fitted! In case a children’s shoe store that you trust does not exist in your area, then read on for my analysis of the best fitting shoes for children!

I am familiar with most of the brands and shoes in the market since I handle approximately 200 hundred fittings/try-ons per week. Below you can find a selection of the best fitting shoes for children. I describe the least expensive ones that are also made of high quality materials, provide everyday support, and will remain in good shape until your child outgrows them!

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.

Do you use a kids’ shoe size chart to measure your children’s feet or 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 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

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 here should be ½” between the big 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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