Children's shoes must fit properly to support their developing feet. In most cases, a child outgrows shoes long before the shoes wear out. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, young children's feet grow a half-size every two to six months, depending on their age. Check the fit of a child's shoe often. Pay close attention to fit when purchasing new footwear to give your kids' feet the best support and protection possible.
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Measure a child's foot. Use the measuring scale at a footwear store. Place one of the child's heels into the curved fence at the rear. Ask the child to stand and place all of their weight on that foot. Note the number at the forward-most toe for the length measurement. Move the width fence against the upper portion of the foot that extends the farthest outward. Use the number representing length that lines up with a letter on the width scale. That letter that gives the width measurement. Measure both the child's feet and use the larger of the two for a shoe size.
Put the chosen shoes on the child's feet. Ask the child to walk around in the store as you watch the way the shoe bends in front of the instep. The break in the bend should occur at the natural bend behind the toes. Be sure the heel cups do not allow feet to slip up and down as the child walks.
Check the toe box for roominess. Look inside the toe box to see that the design does not constrain the toes. Your child should be able to wiggle his toes while wearing the shoe. Ask a child to stand her weight on one foot while wearing the shoe. Press your thumb sideways against the end of the toe box. There should be a thumb's width between the forward toe and the tip of the shoe.
Ask the child about comfort and fit. Shoes that do not fit well while they are new may be poorly designed, or simply a bad fit.
Compensate for feet that are especially narrow or wide by moving to the next half-size up or down. Narrow feet may fit the next half-size down better than the measured length size. Wide feet often need a half-size bigger to fit comfortably.
Tips and warnings
- All shoes are not made alike. One shoe maker's size 12 may be as big as another's size 13.
- Fit athletic shoes, such as soccer cleats, to a precise fit. Extra support is required from speciality athletic shoes, which eliminates the allotment for room to grow.
- Dress shoes that will only be worn occasionally can be fitted slightly larger than a child's foot. Use heel pads and toe stuffing to counter the fit. Limit the time your child wears the shoes until his feet fit into them properly.
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