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What is the Difference Between Medium and Wide Shoes? – Finding the Perfect Shoes for Your Child!


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated and revised for accuracy on April 2022 and reflects up-to-date information on what is the difference between medium and wide shoes.

Did you know that kids’ shoes are available in narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide widths? Wearing the correct shoe width is essential for your kids to perform at their best, no matter the activity. You will also be keeping your kids’ feet healthy and avoid all sorts of foot problems.

If your kids have wide feet and you are fitting them in a pair of medium width shoes, you are probably cramping their toes against the side or the front of the shoes, which can lead to foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.

 It is important to understand that getting the correct shoe width is just as important as getting the correct shoe length. Also, please stop saying that your child can’t wear a certain type of shoe because his or her feet are too wide or too narrow! Shoe companies make shoes in different widths for a reason!

The difference between a medium width shoe and a wide width shoe is 1/8 of an inch. This can make all the difference in preventing your kids’ toes from overlapping one another or rubbing against the side of the shoes.

My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes

I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years now, and we specialize in fitting children with “complicated” foot shapes as well as foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. I know everything that relates to children’s feet and their shoes, and most foot problems occur when children wear the wrong shoe size.


For parents who have wide feet, you need to find shoes that are labeled as:

2EE for wide.

✅ 4EEEE for extra wide.

For kids, it’s much simpler since their shoes are simply labeled as:

✅ W for wide.

✅ XW for extra wide.

The majority of the American population is walking around wearing the wrong shoe width. If parents don’t know the difference between medium and wide widths shoes, then how can they possibly be providing their children with the correct shoe size?


The most common mistake parents make is ordering a larger shoe size every time their kids’ shoes feel too tight around the width area. If you try a shoe for your child in the medium width, and the shoe feels too tight around the widest part of the foot, then instead of buying longer shoes, try the same shoe in a wider width.

If that particular shoe doesn’t come in wide widths, then it’s simply not the right shoe style for your child.

New Balance, Saucony, and Stride Rite are the three shoe companies with the best selection when it comes to wide widths shoes. If you want to learn about which are the best shoe brands for children, you should take a look at this article:

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

While it’s definitely true that there are only certain shoe styles that will work if your child has wide or extra wide feet, not providing your child with certain types of shoes like dress shoes, cleats, or sandals because their feet are too wide or too narrow is a big mistake.

There is always at least one particular dress shoe, sandal, or cleat style that will fit the shape of your child’s feet perfectly, and I will help you find it.

In this post, I will explain what the difference is between medium and wide shoes, and I will show you a selection of the best fitting shoes for children that come in wide widths.

Medium VS Wide Width Shoes – Is There a Big Difference?

It is important to understand the difference between medium and wide widths shoes. Some parents believe that the difference between a medium width shoe and a wide width shoe is insignificant. Those parents are wrong!

It actually does make a huge difference if you fit your kids’ wide feet in a pair of shoes that come in wide widths. Your child will feel so much more comfortable running around and you will keep their feet healthy by preventing foot issues.

Take a look at the picture below where I show two insoles of the same shoe length. The left insole comes from a medium width shoe (M) and the right one comes from a wide width shoe (W).


The difference seems quite clear, and that extra room in the width will make such a big difference in the way your kids’ shoes will feel!

You probably heard before that certain shoe styles run wider or narrower than others, but if your child has wide feet, some shoes actually come in wider widths (W).

Most parents are more likely to buy shoes that are too small for their feet rather than too long. However, they use an opposite approach when it comes to fitting their kids’ shoes. Parents are always worried about the amount of growing room that they need to leave for their kids to grow into the shoe, and sometimes this leads to purchasing longer shoes for their kids.

The main issue with fitting your kids’ feet in shoes that are too long is that you are compromising your child’s stability and create several foot problems such as blisters, calluses, and corns.

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

Several parents have asked me how can they tell if the shoes their kids are wearing are too narrow for their feet since they don’t have a local kids’ shoe store to take their kids to be properly fitted for shoes. I describe how to make sure your kids’ shoes are fitting properly below, but you should definitely read this post where I describe that in more detail:

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.

Are the Shoes that your Child is Wearing Too Narrow? – Let’s Find Out!

Okay, let’s say you bought your child a medium width shoe and he has been complaining about his/her shoes feeling too tight.

Your immediate response is:

You just need to break them in!

✅ Shoes always feel tight at first!

My advice to you is to take your kids’ complaints seriously and start by checking the widest part of the shoe. Let’s take a look at the picture below which shows a shoe that is too narrow for a child’s foot. Do you notice how there is a small bump in the widest part of the foot?

That means that your kids’ toes are being cramped inside the shoe, and the small toe is being pressed against the side of the shoe. The small toe will rub against the shoe, which can lead to the formation of blisters, calluses, or corns.

Let’s say the shoe in the picture is a kids’ shoe size 10 in a medium width. What do you think most parents would do in this situation?

They would get a longer shoe and try a shoe size 101/2 or 11! However, the child already has sufficient growing room in size 10. The longer size might take the pressure away from the small toe, but now the shoes are way too long for your kids’ feet. The right thing to do is to try the same size shoe in a wider width.

So, let’s say you try the same shoe in a wide width. So now we are trying the shoe in size 10, but in a wide width instead of a medium width. Take a look at the picture below and you will notice how the small toe is not being pressed against the shoe anymore, since now the toes have enough room to spread out!

Which is the Best Place to Get Your Kids’ Shoes? – Try Them On!

I always recommend parents to take their kids to their local children’s shoe store, where a shoe fitter can properly measure their feet and find shoes that fit properly. However, several parents don’t have a shoe store in their area that they trust, and they are forced to buy their kids’ shoes online.

Start by taking a look at a resource I created where I describe the best children’s shoe stores by state:

The Best Kids’ Shoe Stores – Where To Go For Proper Fittings

If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to find a good fitting kids’ shoe store in your area, then you can take a look at a selection of the best wide width shoes for kids that I have fitted before below.

While there are several wide widths shoes available for kids, some of them provide better support and structure than others, and will also be more durable and last longer.

I only review shoes that I have fitted before, and some of them are deeper and have rounder toe-boxes than others, which makes a huge difference when you fit them on your child’s feet. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

The Best Wide Widths Shoes for Kids ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Below you can find a selection of the best wide widths shoes for children that will fit a child that has medium, wide, or extra wide feet.

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.

Now that you know the difference between medium and wide widths shoes, you can provide your child with the correct pair of shoes.

Cheers, and keep your kids’ feet healthy!

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly at 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:


Does your child normally get medium width shoes or wide width shoes? Have you found a particular shoe style that worked well for your child’s feet? Please share your thoughts and experiences 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 What is the Difference Between Medium and Wide Shoes? – Finding the Perfect Shoes for Your Child!

  1. I completely agree with what you are saying regarding the importance of correctly fitting shoes for children. It’s just a shame that lower income families, who rely on cheaper department stores for purchasing footwear, cannot afford to visit specialty footwear stores for custom fitted shoes.
    Thanks for the great article, I’m going to do some research on the availability of lower priced footweat that has different foot widths available.

    • Joanne,

      Families who take their kids to department stores to be fitted for shoes end up paying more money for shoes since they don’t only need to replace them faster, but they are also creating all sort of foot problems by letting their kids walk and run around in shoes that don’t fit.

  2. Hi Juan
    Really informative article! I have 2 kids of my own and one of my daughters of 8 years old loves playing soccer, and I understand that getting the correct shoes is vital in a sport as it can lead to injuries. She is constantly complaining about her feet that move inside her shoes when she suddenly needs to stop from a sprint and I always thought how is that possible as the shoes fit perfectly length wise. 

    Does that mean that those specific shoes are too wide for her feet then? Never thought of it, please advise!

    • Hello Mornay,

      The shoes are either too wide for her feet, or she might not be tying the shoes tight enough. Make sure you teach her how to properly tie her shoes, and then ask her if her feet still move too much inside the shoe. 

      I wrote an article where I describe the best way to tie your kids shoes and you can find it here: How To Tie Your Kids Shoes – Stop Heel Slippage!

      Hope that helps!

  3. What a wealth of information! I have noticed the notations of “medium” or “wide” on children’s shoes before but I do not think I have ever seen “narrow” or “extra wide”. Possibly I just have not been paying attention. My son has always worn “medium” shoes so far, so I have just always focused on that classification.

    However, my son is being fitted with orthotics to help correct how he walks. His orthotics will be ones which go into his shoes and fit around the bottom of his foot — what recommendations do you have for a situation like this to ensure that his shoes fit the way that they should?

  4. Thank you for providing your thoughts and suggestions on this, I definitely fall under the category of parents who have no clue about correct shoe width for their kids. My kid just recently started mentioning that his new shoes are to tight. As alternative I started looking for shoes without shoes strings and are adjustable. Do you think that approach will be ok?

    • Hello Alewishes,

      I dont think that is the right approach. If your child is complaining about his or her shoes feeling too tight, I will start by making sure the shoes are not too narrow. Remember that shoes are available in different widths such as wide and extra wide.

      Even if your kids’feet don’t appaear to be wide, he or she might have a high instep, and require a wider shoe. If you are not sure what the instep of the foot is, you can find more information about children with high insteps here: 

      The Best Shoes for High Instep – Stop Getting the Wrong Shoe Size for Your Child!

      I hope this helps!

  5. I am glad I found this site. I am a son and he sometimes seems unable to fit into some of the shoes, because my son has a wider foot. Finding a shoe for him sometimes really frustrating because some shoes are either too tight or too long.
    I think this will help me make my choices. However, when I am in a shop, is there a way to communicate with the staff on what kind of shoe I want? Will she/he understand the terms I use?

    • Hell Michael,

      I am glad that you found the post informative. The most common mistake parents make is to try longer shoes when a child complains about the shoes feeling too tight. This takes away the pressure in the width, but it  leads to the child wearing a shoe that is too long, which will end up compromising his or her stability.

      If you are in a shoe shop they will probably understand when you explain them that your child has a wide foot and needs a wider shoes.

      I hope this clarifies!

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