Best fit forward: how to make sure their new school shoes fit perfectly

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

It’s time to stock up on school shoes, but how to make sure you’re getting the right fit if you’re shopping online? Here’s the expert guide…

After the events of the last year and the long periods of homeschooling, the normal parental trepidation of having to entertain the kids over the summer holidays feels like, well, a summer holiday. But one thing the whole family will be hoping for is a return to a normal school year come September. And a big part of that return to normality will be a new pair of school shoes. With shops open again you can take advantage of our in-store shoe fitting service where our specially-trained Partners offer a Back to School Fit. 

Alternatively if you’re still buying online you don’t need to adopt a hit-and-hope approach, ordering a range of sizes then sending most back. 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.’

How to measure your kids’ feet at home

What sort of shoe should you choose?

‘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?

You can order a shoe fitting gauge online, or you can use our printable paper foot gauge. 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 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.

How to measure your kids’ feet at home

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 – remember that sizes vary slightly from brand to brand. 

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

Shoe fitting service

Book an appointment for your children with one of our specially-trained Partners

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