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What is the Difference Between Wide and Extra Wide Shoes? – Get the Right Shoe Width for Your Child!


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated and revised for accuracy on April 2022 and reflects up-to-date information.

Do you have a child with wide feet and you are wondering whether your child needs a pair of wide or extra wide shoes? Have you always wondered what is the difference really between wide and extra wide width shoes?

One of the most common mistakes I see parents make is to provide their children with wide shoes (W) when they actually need extra wide shoes (XW). Just so you know, there is a big difference between wide and extra wide width shoes.

Did you know that extra wide width shoes existed? They are not just available for sneakers or running shoes, but also in dress shoes, sandals, boots, and sport shoes.

If your children have extra wide feet and you provide them with a pair of wide width shoes, you might end up creating several foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.

Shoes are available in different widths for a reason! Wide width shoes (W) can definitely help children whose feet are wider than others, but children with extra wide feet will need shoes that actually come labeled in extra wide widths (XW) to reduce or eliminate abnormal pressures in the feet.

Children who wear orthotics might also require an extra wide width shoe.

What is the Difference Between Wide and Extra Wide Shoes?

What is the difference between a shoe that comes in a wide width and a shoe that comes in extra wide width? I took a picture of the insert of a wide shoe and an insert of an extra wide shoe (same shoe length), so you can visualize it yourself.


Do you see the difference? There is a big difference, so start providing your kids with the correct shoe width!

Several parents tend to make the common mistake of buying longer shoes for their children in an attempt to compensate for the width. Many parents don’t even know that shoes come in different widths, and when they are trying a pair of shoes that are too narrow, they think that all they need to do is get a longer size to take the pressure away from the widest part of the foot.

This will end up compromising your children’s stability, making them more prone to falling and hurting themselves.

Let me explain this further with an example:

Let’s say you measure your child’s feet and he measured a foot size 9 wide. You try the shoe size 9 1/2 in a wide width (to allow for growing room), and the shoe is perfect in length, but too tight around the width area. The parent then decides to try the shoe in a half a size longer to relieve the pressure from the width area. Now, the child stops complaining about the shoes feeling too tight in the width area, but there is too much extra space in the front of the shoe. The parent should have tried the shoe in an extra wide width instead.

If that particular shoe style shoe doesn’t come labeled as extra wide, then it’s just not the right shoe style for your child! Find another shoe style that comes in extra wide, and you will see how it’s possible to keep the same shoe length, and relieve the pressure from the widest part of the foot at the same time.

How to Figure Out If Your Child Has Wide or Extra Wide Feet

If you want to be 100% sure about whether your child has wide or extra wide feet I suggest that you follow the instructions in the article below:

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

My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes

I have been fitting children’s shoes for over 10 years now, working for a specialized children’s shoe store that specializes in helping children with “complicated” foot shapes as well as foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. I know exactly which shoe brands and which shoe styles are better than others from actually having fitted the shoes myself.


I will show you a selection of the best kids’ shoe styles that are available in wide and extra wide widths.

Does Your Child Have a High Instep? – This is What you Need to Do!

While most people believe that there are two elements to shoe sizing: shoe length and shoe width, they forget another important and crucial factor you want to consider if you want to get the correct shoe size for your child: The instep of the foot!

Did you know that if your children have a medium width foot with a high instep then they might need a wider shoe? I know this might sound confusing. The instep is the top part of the foot, and when it’s high then you need to get a deeper and a wider shoe to prevent the top part of the foot from rubbing against the top part of the shoe.

This is where the instep of the foot is located:


I explain how to tell if your child has a high instep in more detail in an article I wrote called:

The Best Shoes for Children with High Insteps – Stop Getting the Wrong Shoe Size for Your Child!

There is no magical table or scale that will tell you exactly which shoe width your child needs. I can easily tell if a child has wide or extra wide feet by just looking at their feet since I have been fitting children’s shoes for so long.

If you are in doubt of whether your child has wide or extra wide feet, please refer to the following article:

How to Measure Foot Width – Does Your Child Has Narrow, Medium, Wide, or Extra Wide Feet?

The Best Shoe Brands for Kids with Wide of Extra Wide Feet – Let’s Find Out!

When a child has extra wide feet, 90% of the time I end up fitting them in a pair of New Balance shoes. Different shoe brands make wide and extra wide shoes for children, and you have probably heard of them before:

  • New Balance
  • Saucony
  • Stride Rite

When a child has really wide feet, I always feel more comfortable fitting them in a pair of New Balance sneakers.

New Balance shoes tend to have the widest, roundest toe-boxes. They also tend to be deeper than the other shoe brands, which means that your kids’ feet will fit deeper inside the shoe and this will prevent the top of their feet from rubbing against the top of the shoes.

Take a look at the picture below where we have two different shoe styles, one from New Balance (right picture), and the other one from Saucony (left picture). These shoes are of the same length and the same width (they are both extra wide). Do you notice how the New Balance shoe style is so much wider than the Saucony one? Do you notice how the toe-box of the shoe is rounder and wider?


This is the number 1 reason why I always end up fitting children with really extra wide feet in New Balance shoes. Also, if they wear orthotics, this is the go-to shoe brand for them!

Now that you know how to check for the width of your kids’ shoes, below you can find a selection of the best fitting shoes for kids that come in wide and extra wide widths. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

I only review shoes that I have fitted before since that is the only way for me to tell how well-made the shoes are and how they fit.

The Best Wide and Extra Wide Shoes for Kids ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The shoes below can fit children with wide feet (W) or extra wide feet (XW). 

The best way to tell if your child has a wide or an extra wide width foot is to have his or her feet properly measured at your kids’ local shoe store. However, if you don’t have a local shoe store in your area that you trust, I provided you with a set of guidelines that explain how you can tell if your child needs wide or extra wide shoes.

Socks for Kids with Wide or Extra Wide Feet

If your child has wide or extra wide feet, it is important to get them socks that stretch nicely and that are also seamless, that way they won’t put any extra pressure on their toes and be able to move them freely.

These socks also work great for children with sensory issues who feel every bump and lump and have the hardest time keeping their socks on.

Socks play a key role in keeping your kids’ feet healthy since they act as a barrier between the feet and the shoes, and they prevent the formation and buildup of bacteria inside the shoes.

If you are always fighting with your child when it’s time to put the socks on, you need to read this post where I describe the best seamless socks for kids:

Seamless Socks for Kids – Stop the Struggle of Putting Socks On!

I hope you find useful all the information that relates to wide and extra wide width shoes. Now that you also recognize the importance of wearing the correct type of socks, and the key role they play in keeping your kids’ feet healthy.

Stop getting shoes for your children that are too narrow and start taking care of their feet!

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 have really wide or extra wide feet? Have you found a particular brand or shoe style that has worked better for his or her feet? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so other parents can 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 Wide and Extra Wide Shoes? – Get the Right Shoe Width for Your Child!

  1. I kept buying wide shoes for my child that has wide feet, but he still complained about them being too tight! I thought there was nothing else to do until I order one of the shoes you recommend and magic happened! The extra wide widths fit him perfectly and he stopped complaining about his feet hurting. Thank you Juan Pablo!

    • Hello Collins.

      Most parents are not even aware that shoe companies make kids’ shoes in extra wide widths! Did you notice what a difference it makes when you provide your child with the correct pair of shoes? Now your child can run and play comfortably without complaining about his or her feet hurting!

      Did you know that they make kids soccer and baseball cleats in wide and extra wide widths? I wrote a post where I describe the best soccer cleats for children with extra wide feet, and you can find it here: Soccer Cleats for Kids – Finding an Extra Wide Boot that Fits

  2. Juan Pablo,

    You have just made my day with this information about children’s feet and shoes. As adults we don’t buy shoes that are to narrow for our feet, so why would we do this to our children? Is it due to people thinking that their kids out grow their shoes before they really ever start to wear them, because to me your feet are one of the most important features of our body that helps us to develop our posture and back muscles, and also are ability to run correctly for speed and agility.

    Excellent source of information! Thank you


    • Hello Kelly,

      I agree with you that our feet are one of the most important parts of our body, and we must take care of them! The earlier we start taking care of our feet, the better! We will prevent further injuries down the road and keep our kids feet healthy.

      It is important to know that children shoes come in wide and extra wide widths, and no matter how wide your kids feet are, there is a particular shoe that will fit him or her just perfectly, I have fitted even the widest feet out there, so if you are having a hard time finding a particular shoe style for your child, don’t hesistate to contact me!

  3. That’s a great piece of advice about checking that your kids toes aren’t bulging out to the side as it’s an easy thing to notice even if you are not a shoe-fitting expert

    I recently bought New Balance training shoes for my kids without realizing that they had extra wide options. Pleased to hear that you can buy extra wide shoes from well known companies that look great and that kids will want to wear. I am ordering from your website as a way of saying thanks for the info man!

    • Hello Kristian,

      I knew the images where going to clarify a lot, and yes, you don’t have to be a shoe fitting expert to realize when you are fitting your kids in shoes that are too narrow. Your child will be so much more comfortable in a pair of extra wide widths shoes, as long as he or she has an extra wide foot.

  4. My kids have very wide feet and it is hard to find shoes that come wide enough for them. I am glad you provide a selection of shoes that come in extra wide widths. Do shoe companies make soccer shoes in extra wide? My kids had to stop wearing cleats because they always complained about them hurting their feet.

    • Hello Katie,

      There is only one soccer shoe style that comes in wide and extra wide widths. I wrote a post about this shoe that you can find here:

      Soccer Cleats For Kids – Finding an Extra Wide Boot That Fits

      It is important to provide our children with soccer cleats that are wide enough for their feet, or they will end up with calluses, blisters, or corns since there is a lot of friction when playing soccer.

  5. I was unsure about whether my child needed wide or extra wide shoes. Your post made it really clear. I realized I was providing him with shoes that were too narrow, even though they said wide widths. Now I know he actually needs extra wide shoes, thank you man! This was really helpful! Are there any wide baseball cleats for kids? Do shoes companies make them?

    • Hello Bassam,

      Baseball cleats in wide widths for kids do exist and New Balance is the shoe company that makes wide baseball cleats for kids. I actually wrote a post about them and you can find them here:

      Wide Width Baseball Cleats – They Do Exist!

      Remember that when children are playing sports they are stressing their feet and legs at a whole different level. Wearing the correct type of shoes is important not just to prevent foot problems, but also to allow your kids to perform at their best.

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