Children's Shoe Questions and Answers
Once you start asking questions, innocence is gone.
How much growing room should be in a new pair of shoes?
There should be ½” of space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the inside of the shoe. Keep in mind that growing room is built into children's shoes. For example, if your child measures a toddler 5, the size 5 shoe, when properly fitted, will have ½” of space built in for growing. You don't need to buy a 5 1/2 for a size 5 foot. Shoes that have more than 1/2" of growing room will cause tripping. A shoe with less than 1/2" will last less than typical, and may even damage the foot. Here's an easy way to check:
The width of your thumb is about ½”. Place your thumb perpendicular to the foot at the end of the shoe. Press down to feel for the end of the longest toe. (The longest toe is not always the "big toe.") You should be able to press down without feeling any toes.
Is it okay to buy shoes a half or whole size up to save money?
No. A too-large shoe will cause your child to trip. Children's shoes have 1/2" of growing room already built in. Also, if it's an everyday shoe, your child will probably outwear it before they outgrow it if you buy it too large. Would you wear a shoe that is too large?
When does a child need their first pair of shoes?
A week or so after they take their first steps, or whenever your child starts walking outside...whichever comes first.
How often should children's feet be measured?
The younger the foot, the faster it grows, and every child is different, so measuring regularly (with an at-home measuring device) will always save you time and effort. A good rule of thumb is to measure every 6-8 weeks since growth spurts can happen any time. To make it easy, set an alarm on your phone for six weeks after a shoe purchase, and then every two weeks thereafter until the next half-size is reached. Always fit a shoe to the largest foot. Average measuring timelines are listed below:
Babies and Toddlers under sixteen months: Measure every 6-8 weeks
Toddlers Aged 16-24 months: Measure every 10-12 weeks
Two to Three years old: Measure every 14-16 weeks
Four years and older: Measure every 4-5 Months
What is the best way to measure my children's feet at home?
Buy a Brannock™ Device, and learn how to use it here. All American brands and stores use the industry standard Brannock™ to verify sizing. Stop printing out less accurate, and pain-in-the-neck paper rulers and foot measuring charts from the web. Buy the right size the first time, and reduce your returns. It's an investment that will pay for itself over time, even if you have only one kid.
How do I tell if a shoe fits properly?
Achieving a good fit is essential for proper foot growth and development. Follow my Footwatch™ Fit System here for a foolproof way to check if shoes fit properly.
How does children's footwear sizing work?
It's confusing...but you'll get used to it. Children's footwear sizes work like a deck of cards, in that sizes start at 1 and go up to size 13 (with half sizes in between), then start over again at 1. It's confusing because there are two sets of sizes with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. There are baby sizes 2-5 and, Youth sizes 2-5. Make sure you're shopping in the correct size range. The chart below will clarify this for you.
What key features do "quality shoes" have?
In a nutshell: Proper Fit, Flexibility, Breathability, Durability.
To learn more, click here.
Is it okay to accept hand-me-down footwear, or to buy used children's shoes at consignment shops?
I think it's great, under certain conditions. If it all works out, you save money and time, with the added benefit of recycling. Here are my Shoe Hand-Me-Down Guidelines:
Are flip-flops okay for kids?
Short answer: No.
Long Answer: Thongs without a back strap require the wearer to apply "toe-grip" to keep the sandals on. Children don't know how to do this. Second, the piece of material that goes between the largest and second largest toe can damage the tendons between the toes if worn too much.
For the occasional beach trip, okay. But do NOT make a habit of putting children in thong sandals.
Have another question? Fill out the form below.
Accurately Measure Feet at Home
Bata Shoe Museum
Bring your curiosity to the world's largest and best shoe Museum, the Bata Museum in Toronto, Canada. At any one time around 12,000 shoes and shoe-related objects are on display, from Japanese sandals made of human hair, to grass socks worn by Alaska’s Aleut people to a pair of 4,500 year old boots. Humans have been wearing footwear for as many as 40,000 years. Come check it out!
Accurately Measure Feet at Home