How to measure your kids’ feet at home

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

Children outgrown their shoes since they were last at school? Measuring your kids’ feet at home is much easier than you think. Here’s how to do it…

If you reacted to the news that schools are reopening on 8 March with a sense of relief, quickly followed by a manic session of trying on uniforms and shoes, you are not alone. Children’s feet grow and they grow fast and they may well need a new pair of school shoes to see them through the remainder of this year. Since popping to the shops with the kids in tow still isn’t an option, ordering their shoes online is 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 vital to get your children’s shoe 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,’ 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.’

What type of shoe should you choose?

With children returning to school for just a few weeks before breaking up for Easter and then back for the summer term, it is worth thinking about lighter weight shoes. ‘Look at what type of foot your child has and this will help determine what shape you go for,’ says Sarah Northage, head of sales at Start-Rite. ‘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. 

How do you measure your 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 distributed evenly and always measure both feet, as one is usually a bit bigger than the other,’ says Sarah.

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. Still unsure? Watch this video for more direction.

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 into shoes. ‘Barefoot is really good for youngsters learning to walk,’ says Sarah. ‘That way, they get their balance right and there’s no 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 if your child’s shoes fit correctly?

Once their new shoes have arrived, it’s time to try them on. When they are 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 correctly.’ 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 vary slighty from brand to brand. 

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

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