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How to Fit Kids Shoes

How to Fit Girls Shoes

When buying footwear for your child, it’s important to make sure they fit correctly. If shoes or boots aren't well-fitting it can cause issues that are actually really easy to prevent.

Common issues in children due to ill-fitting shoes include bunions, in-grown toenails and fallen arches. All of these ailments can be painful, but all are entirely preventable with the right footwear.

As well as making sure the right shoe size is selected, it’s also important to dress appropriately when shopping for a particular style of shoes or boots. So, if you’re shopping for some funky new kids' boots, it’s likely they’re to be worn with a chunky pair of socks. Make sure the socks are worn when trying on new footwear to really gauge how they fit. Enough room is needed to be able to wriggle the toes. If this can’t be done, it’s time to reconsider.

Here we’re going to have a look at how best to fit your little one’s shoes correctly and what to look out for when picking new shoes for your child.

Girls Shoes: How to Check the Fit

Kids Shoes: How to Check the Fit

No two children are the same and this is especially true when it comes to getting the right footwear to suit their feet. Shoes that are too narrow or too wide can be just as bad as shoes that are too long or too short. It’s important to remember that children’s feet aren’t fully formed until around 18 years of age so getting the fit right from the start is paramount.

Measuring the length of your child's feet is only part of the fitting process. Different styles of shoe can mean a different fit, so it's imperative to check them fully. Below is an easy to follow step-by-step guide to help you:

  1. Take the shoes from the box and remove any packaging, open any fastening as wide as possible to make it easier for your little one to insert their feet. Once their feet are in each shoe, fasten securely.

  2. Whilst your little one is sitting, lift their foot and hold their ankle securely. With the other hand grip the heel of the shoe. Pull down gently a number of times to check that the shoe is gripping the heel well and isn’t coming loose. Repeat the process with the other foot. If the shoe comes away from the heel easily, it may be worth trying a smaller size.

  3. Next, ask your child to stand up if they can, then use your fingers to check around the top of each shoe. If there are any gaps between the shoe and the foot, it may be too big.

  4. Check to see where the cuff of the shoe sits. If it sits on the ankle bone, it could rub and cause blisters. A padded collar should prevent this and support the ankle.

  5. Feel the top of each shoe for the end of the longest toe. Apply gentle pressure to make sure the toe isn’t pressing against the end of the shoe.

  6. Using your forefinger and thumb, feel along each side of the shoe, the widest part of the foot should be in the widest part of the shoe. You shouldn’t feel any pressure or bulging, if you do a wider fitting should be considered.

  7. Using your thumb, rub across the top of the shoe, you should feel a shallow ripple effect. If there is no movement, the shoe is too narrow. Likewise, if there is too much and you can create a ridge, the shoe is too wide.

  8. Lastly, ask your child to take a walk in the shoes. They should be able to walk easily and naturally. The shoe should remain in place and not slip off as they walk.

As kids feet grow quickly, leaving a small amount of growing room when fitting isn’t uncommon. Provided the shoes fit securely and cause no issues when walking, it’s recommended that approximately 15mm should be left surplus past the end of the longest toe. That’s:

  • 3mm to account for the rounding of the shoe

  • 5mm for movement

  • 7mm for growth

This is entirely optional, but it’s important to check the fit regularly due to growth spurts.

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Girls Width Fittings

Kids Width Fittings

Like in adults not every child has a slim foot and squeezing into shoes that are too narrow can cause issues such as sores and corns. In the UK, kids shoes have a system of width fittings from C to I. Not only are they designed to suit the width of the feet but also take into consideration how shallow or deep the arch of the foot is too, ensuring all round maximum support.

There are many debates about children’s width fittings and if they really are necessary. In general, the majority of children fit into standard width fitting shoes without issue. The most popular width fittings for children’s shoes are as follows:

Width Fitting
D-E Narrow Fit
F Standard Fit
G Wide Fit
H Extra Wide Fit

Buying shoes for narrow feet can be a task in itself, but most often it comes down to the style of shoe. The same applies to children’s shoes for wider feet. A more pointed toe will feel tighter on a wider foot, where this will suit a narrow foot better. Round or square toe shoes are better suited to wider feet.

How Fastenings Affect Fit

How Fastenings Affect Fit

With so many different styles of footwear out there, one important feature of any little one's shoes is the fastening. There are so many types to choose from. The more popular types are as follows:

  • Lace-ups

  • Buckles

  • Easy Fastening

  • Slip-on

How to Fit Girls Shoes

Easy Fastening

The most popular type of fastening for children’s shoes. This is because it makes shoes much easier to put on and take off, reducing the amount of fuss and time it takes. As such, they are also known as easy fasten shoes. However, they don’t allow for as much flexibility in terms of growth as other methods such as laces. When buying shoes with easy fastening for your little one, always ensure the shoes are secure when walking. If you have to over tighten the fastening, it may be worth considering a smaller size or different style.


Lace-up shoes are the best in terms of flexibility when fitting as they can be tightened as required. The downside to lace-ups is that they can take a while to re-adjust and fasten once on, not always an easy task with a wriggly infant! Lace-ups are better for older children who can tie their own laces.


Buckle fastenings come somewhere between the simplicity of easy fastening and the flexibility of laces. They are fairly easy to fasten and also offer some level of adjustment. When buying shoes with buckles for your child, it’s important to check that they won’t cause any irritation first and foremost. Check to see where the buckle will sit on the foot, if it’s likely to come into contact with the ankle bone, it can cause sores. If the holes for the buckles aren’t a suitable fit or the shoe has stretched over time, it can be hard to adjust without modifying the shoe, which is something we wouldn’t recommend.


Slip-on shoes are designed to do just that, slip on and off the foot. Slip-on shoes are most often elasticated around the cuff to make it easier and to some extent, give a small amount of flexibility in the fitting of the shoe. The downside however, is that there is little opportunity to adjust the shoe for growth and it’s easier for children to get blisters and sores if not fitted correctly.

Why is Fit So Important?

Why is Fit So Important?

Ill-fitting Shoes

Ensuring shoes are fitted well is paramount when it comes to your children’s foot health. On average, children's feet grow at two sizes per year in the first four years of their life and one size each year after that.

Buying multiple pairs of shoes isn't an option for everyone. Therefore it makes perfect sense that the ones you do buy fit correctly for the intended purpose, whether it's school shoes, summer sandals or winter boots. Following our fitting guidelines will ensure longevity for your little one's footwear and keep their feet as comfortable as possible.

There are four main warning signs to look out for when it comes to ill-fitting shoes. It’s worth checking these regularly to make sure your child has comfortable feet:

The Four Signs of Ill-Fitting Shoes

  1. Skin – Look for areas of rashes and redness, particularly on the toes, in the arches of the foot and below the ankle bone. This could indicate ventilation issues within the shoe. If the foot can't breathe properly because the shoe is too tight it can become sweaty, leading to possible infection. Also look for blisters and red marks on the heel and on the toes, these can be caused if the shoes move too much when walking, suggesting they're too big.

  2. Nails – Any inflammation around the nail bed should be taken seriously as this could suggest infection, most probably caused by an ingrowing toenail. Ingrowing toenails can develop when toes rub on one another due to lack of space, a larger size or wider fitting shoe may be required.

  3. Deformities – Each toe should always be straight in line with the foot and not drawn back or curled up when held naturally. This can cause issues with walking and discomfort later in life. Should any of the toes not sit correctly, it could be the shoes are too small and a larger size or wider fitting is needed.

  4. Posture – If the feet appear to be excessively turned in or out or very flat, it’s likely the shoes being worn aren’t offering enough support. If your child complains of pain or isn’t walking well, it’s time to reconsider the footwear being worn.

Fitting shoes is probably one of the most important things you can do for your little one as they start to walk and grow older. Using a simple fitting guide such as the one above will ensure they get the best possible start when it comes to learning how to walk tall.

Time to Put Your Know How to the Test!

As a shoe fitting expert, you'll have no trouble picking out a pair of stylish shoes for your little one…

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