1. Basic Tips
Plan your shopping trip for the afternoon or evening. Feet swell throughout the day, meaning that they get larger as the day goes on. To ensure a proper fit, have your child wear socks when trying on shoes. Socks can help shoes fit more comfortably – especially on small feet that are still developing. Choose a pair of socks that is similar in thickness to the ones that they will wear with the shoes on a daily basis. If you are shopping for sandals, trying them on without socks is fine. If they will be wearing the sandals with socks, however, bring along a pair so that you can get a proper fit.
This will be especially true for children’s orthopedic shoes as the fit is the most important part of providing the right support.
2. Check The Length Of The Shoes
Have your child try the shoes on in a seated position. Ask them to gently tap the backs of the shoes against the floor after they are on to make sure that their feet slide all the way back in the shoe. Then, check where their toes are in comparison to the front end of the shoe. When they are sitting, there should be a space about as wide as your thumb between the end of the shoe and whichever of their toes is the longest. When they stand up, their foot will spread out a little. However, as long as you use the width of your thumb as a guide, there should be plenty of room in the shoe to maintain a comfortable fit.
Pull gently on the back of the shoe at the heel to make sure that it doesn’t slide off of their foot.
Have them stand up and check the distance between whichever of their toes is longest and the end of the shoe. In a standing position, there should be a space about the width of your finger. In some cases, their foot will rest in the middle of the shoe, with extra room around all of the edges. As long as the shoe stays on, this usually isn’t an issue. Having the child start in a seated position makes it easier to verify that you are getting a good fit.
Ideally, there should be quite a bit of extra room around the toe area. The width of the shoe is slightly less important as long as it fits well enough to stay on your child’s foot. Have your child walk across the room to make sure that the shoe doesn’t slip and that it doesn’t make them trip.
3. Choose The Right Width
Once you verify that the shoes are long enough, the next step is to take a look at how wide they are. Check the area next to your child’s smallest toe to make sure that their toe isn’t crammed against the side of the shoe.
Next, run your thumb over the shoe at the area where it is the widest. When you do this, watch the leather to see how it moves. There needs to be plenty of width in this part of the shoe for the feet to spread out. Feet don’t just grow in length – they also grow in width. Additionally, they change sizes throughout the day, becoming wider as the day goes on due to heat and activity. As long as the shoe stays on without slipping, it is fine if there is extra room on the sides of your child’s foot.
4. Check The Depth
The depth of the shoe is the space between the top of the shoe and the bottom of the foot. Again, slide your finger over the leather to make sure that there is some give over the top of the foot. The leather should not be pulled tight. Instead, it should dent in under the weight of your thumb. If the shoe isn’t deep enough, it usually will be a struggle to get it on their foot.
Depth is particularly problematic when purchasing shoes for girls in the Mary-Jane style. Try sliding your finger in between the upper part of the shoe and the top of their foot. Look for any bulging, which could indicate that the shoe is not deep enough. As their feet grow, their foot will move further forward in the shoe, requiring additional depth. Choosing shoes that have a little bit of a gap between the strap or the toe of the shoe and the top of their foot is usually the best way to account for future growth.
5. Do A Walk Test
After checking the width, length, and depth of the shoe, you can have your child walk around in them. This can be a little bit challenging since your child may not walk like normal if they know they are being watched. They also may be so focused on their new shoes that they don’t step with a normal gait. Try directing their attention elsewhere, pointing out something interesting in the store or asking them to grab you something from a nearby shelf. For kids that are a little bit older, you can have them jump in place to test the fit.
The way that they walk with the shoes on should be the same way that they walk when they aren’t wearing shoes. If you have never evaluated their gait before, have them walk without shoes first so that you can compare how they walk with the shoes on.
When watching them walk, make sure that the shoes aren’t sliding at the heel. Try having them stand on their toes to make sure that the backs of the shoes stay in place. For young children, put a toy on the ground and have them bend over to pick it up. This will cause their weight to shift to their toes, allowing you to see if the heel slips.