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

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 between wide and extra wide shoes? One of the most common mistakes that 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!

Most Common Mistakes Parents Make!

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.

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 a different resource I created.

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.

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 and are in doubt of whether your child has wide or extra wide feet, you can use a free virtual fitting service I created.

The Best Shoe Brands for Kids with Wide or 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 Nike (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 Nike one? Do you notice how the toe-box of the New Balance shoe is rounded?

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: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) 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). 

Socks for Kids with Wide or Extra Wide Feet

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 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. 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.

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.

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:

[email protected]

Does your child have really wide or extra wide feet? Have you found a particular brand or shoe style that has worked better for your child’s feet? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so other parents can benefit from them!