Proper Shoe Fitting: Kids Edition


“You grew up in the blink of an eye” is a known saying for a reason. It is amazing how quickly little ones go through changes as they grow! When babies are first born, the bones in their feet are still forming, and their feet are mostly made of cartilage. Only about ¾ of the bones even exist at this point! Our feet are not fully formed until we are about 13-18 years of age, but many of the big changes happen in the first 6 years.  During this period of development, the foot can be at risk from injury and deformity due to ill-fitting footwear and great care should be taken with shoe types and shoe fitting.

A fully developed foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments in each foot.

Is my child on track?

Many parents have this concern. Children develop at different rates, and how long they take to start walking and how early their feet start to take form can vary a great deal! Children’s feet will not be fully developed until between the ages of 13-15 for girls, and 15 to 18 for boys.

Children typically start to walk between 9-18 months but every child is different, so don’t be worried if your little one starts earlier or later! They will usually appear to be flat-footed with their feet slightly turned in, have a broad gait, bent knees, and bowed legs. In the first few years their bones and muscles aren’t developed enough to support an arch – so don’t worry about your baby’s flat feet just yet! Their arches will begin to develop when they are around 2-3 years old, and you should see a normal arch in your child’s foot when they are around 7 years old.  As they start to grow and move differently, the strength improves in their lower limbs.

Some kids never even develop an arch, and that can also be ok! Over time, the foot will appear leaner, the fatty layer beneath their feet will start to disappear, their achilleas will become more defined and their toes will spread. When they’re around Preschool age, your child’s feet will be more dexterous with a defined arch and a leaner shape. They’re starting to look mature, not too dissimilar to an adult’s foot.

New Balance Kids

What shoes?

With so many changes in such a short time, it is essential to make sure children’s feet are protected and fit in the proper footwear – both in length AND width! It is best to get your child’s foot measured by a trained fitting specialist to ensure proper fit. If you don’t have access to a shop with a fitting specialist, we have some tricks and tools you can use at home!

Click here to download our printable measuring tool, to measure your child’s foot from home!

To use our measuring tool, follow these easy steps:

  1. Get the child to stand on the paper barefoot with their heels lining up with the heel lines
  2. With the foot pressing down on the paper, see the number closest to the longest toe (this is not always the big toe!)
  3. Check the longest toe number on both feet (one foot may be bigger than the other)
  4. Next, line the outside edge of the foot with the outer line. From the inner widest part of the foot, see which color it lines up with (red is medium, yellow is wide, and blue is extra wide). This will tell you the width of your child’s foot!

Some extra tips:

  • It is best to measure your child’s foot later in the day as they will swell (same with adult feet!)
  • If their feet are 2 different sizes, always buy for the larger foot!
  • Fasten the shoes while they are standing up. The foot shape changes from sitting to standing, so you may find they need to be tightened if they were secured while sitting.

Did the shoes I bought fit?

Some easy ways to know if the shoes that you purchased are the right fit, you can try these simple things:

  • Firstly, pull out the insoles! (Did you know they come out?) With the insoles on the floor side by side, get your child to stand on them with their heel lining up with the back.
  • There should be one thumb width of extra room in the front (any more will be a tripping hazard, and any less will mean they are too small), and their foot should not be hanging over the sides of the insole. This is an easy way to see how the foot will sit inside the shoe.

If the insoles don’t come out:

  • Make sure you can fit your thumb snugly behind the heel
  • With their heel right against the back of the shoes, press down with your thumb to feel for the toes. If they are at the very end, the shoes may be too small
  • If the foot is putting a lot of pressure on the sides or the top, then the shoe may be too narrow or shallow

At Canadian Footwear, we carry a large selection of great supportive and good quality footwear for kids. Nearly all of our children’s footwear have removable insoles and we carry multiple widths!

To see our amazing selection, click here!

If you have any questions about proper fitting children’s footwear – send us a message!