How to measure kids’ feet at home

how to measure children's feet at home
Maggie Westhead,-Digital Editor

Children outgrown their shoes? Measuring your kids’ feet at home is the way to go. Here’s how to do it

Children’s feet grow and they grow fast. In fact, during a child’s first three to four years, they grow around two sizes a year, and by the time they are school age it’s around a size a year – although naturally, this varies from child to child. Now that popping to the shops with the kids in tow isn’t an option, ordering kids’ shoes online has become a necessity. Rather than ordering a few sizes and hoping for the best, save time and resources by getting the measurements right at home. Here are our expert tips on how to do it.

Why is it important to get your children’s shoes size right?

Even if shoes are just a bit too big or too small, they can be detrimental to your child’s foot health. ‘Each child has their own unique dimensions. You can take their individual measurements and match them to the perfect shoes at home,’ says Rosie McKissock, business manager, Clarks Kids. ‘Not only does fitting protect foot development, keeping growing feet healthy and comfortable, but wearing the right shoes in the right size gives children the confidence to move through the world in their own way, at their own pace.’

How do I measure my child’s feet at home?

A printable paper foot gauge is all you need. Make sure your printer is set to 100% and not to scale and once it’s printed use a ruler to check it’s correct. Cut off the width measurement strip, then place the paper gauge on a flat, hard floor. ‘To get an accurate reading, it's really important to make sure the child's weight is distrubuted evenly and always measure both feet, as one is usually a bit bigger than the other,’ says Sarah Northage, head of sales, Start-Rite.

Place your child’s left foot on the paper gauge ensuring the back of their heel lines up with the thick line at the bottom of the paper. Write down the size to their largest toe (note: this isn't always the big toe). Repeat on the right foot. Now use the width tape, wrapping it around the thickest part of the foot. ‘This is the main area where parents go wrong,' says Sarah. ‘When using the width tape, you need to make sure you go diagonally from the ball joint of their little toe to the ball joint on their big toe – this will give you the accurate width of your child's foot.’  If you don't have a printer, you can use a piece of A4 paper and ruler to get the measurements.

What type of shoe should I choose?

With children spending less time at school and more time at home and in the garden, it makes sense to choose comfortable and lightweight shoes. ‘Look at what type of foot your child has and this will help determine what shape you go for,’ says Sarah. ‘If your daughter has a deep, fleshy foot, for example, she might be better in a T-bar sandal as opposed to a Mary Jane shape, which would suit a smaller, bonier foot.’ She also recommends riptape fastenings as not only can they adjust to the foot width, they’re soft and comfortable. More time barefoot around the house and in the garden is good for your child's foot health too, so make the most of it.

What if you are choosing baby’s first shoes?

Buying your child their first pair of shoes is a rite of passage, a special moment almost always done by an in-store expert. But with more time spent at home, there's no urgency to get them in shoes. ‘Barefoot is really good for youngsters learning to walk,’ says Sarah. ‘That way, they get their balance right and there’s not need to rush. They should have been up and confidently walking for several weeks around the house before you put them in shoes regularly.’ When they are ready, use the paper foot gauge in the same way as above. Her top tip? ‘Choose a soft and comfortable shoe that’s not too rigid.’ For more information, check out our guide to how to buy your baby's first shoes

How to check to see if your child's shoes fit?

Once their new shoes have arrived, it’s time to try them on. When they are all fastened up, press your thumb firmly down on the front of your child’s shoe to see where their toes are. ‘Always ensure your thumb is sideways on when doing this,’ says Sarah. ‘There should be about a thumb’s width between the end of the shoe and the big toe. If you can't feel the toe through the shoe, get your child to wiggle their foot.’ The shoe should fit snugly at the heel. ‘Give it a good tug as if you are trying to pull the shoe off,’ says Sarah. ‘If it stays put with a little bit of give, you know it's fitting right.’ Now check the width is just right using a finger and thumb. Your child will soon be able to tell you if it's not comfortable and remember that sizes varying slighty from brand to brand. 

If you need any more advice check out John Lewis & Partners’ special shoe fitting services for children.

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