Your kid’s cool branded sneakers may look great, but do they fit properly? Shoes that are too small put children at risk of foot deformities and other serious health issues. The bad news for parents; almost two-thirds of all children are wearing shoes that are too small!
BlitzResults conducted a survey and found that 65% of kids are wearing shoes that are too small. Of these, 47% are one size too small and 18% are even two. Only 35% are wearing the correct size and only 11% of those have “room to grow”.
Improperly fitting shoes can cause a foot deformity called hallux valgus. This happens when the big toe starts to angle inward, causing a swollen lump just below the big toe. A study conducted by the National Health Institute found that almost 30% of children had irreversible foot deformities, like hallux valgus.
To help parents make sure they are buying shoes that fit their kids properly, keep the following advice in mind:
Go by the longer foot
The right and left foot are rarely the same length. A difference of up to half an inch is normal, that’s almost one whole shoe size. Therefore, parents should always go by the longer foot when buying shoes.
Don’t rely on the shoe size
Shoe manufacturers label shoes with standard sizes, the ones we all know. But, there is no mandatory industry standard for shoe sizing, so each brand will vary. Be sure to try on every shoe carefully.
Room to grow
Most parents are aware that feet need some room, but usually underestimate how much. At least ½ inch of additional room is optimal, it’s the only way kids can roll their foot properly when walking.
Do a regular check
Tim Lilling, expert at blitzresults.com, tells us that, “Because the sense of touch isn’t fully developed in children yet, they have a tendency to squeeze their feet into shoes that are much too small, they don’t even notice it. Therefore, parents must measure their children’s feet every 2 months.”
A measuring guide, useful conversion tools and a lot of information on how to choose shoes with the perfect fit can be found here.
Unfortunately, many parents still use these “tricks” to judge whether shoes fit
Hold shoe to foot
The parnet holds the shoe sole up to the child’s foot to estimate the size. But you can’t estimate the length on the inside of the shoe from the outside, which is often much shorter than you’d expect (lining, seams, footbed).
Rather – Use an appropriate measuring device.
The thumb test
The thumb presses on the toe of the shoe to see how much room there is to grow. The problem is that children often draw their toes up by reflex, which means the foot rolls under. It may seem like there’s enough room, although, in reality, the shoes are too small. Using the heel test is just as bad for judging free space in the heel. Many kids push their feet forward until their toes are crammed in.
Rather – Carefully feel your child´s foot inside the shoe. Place one hand on the front of the shoe, so the child can’t draw their toes up. Then, with the other hand, check the position of the toes. This way you can feel whether there is enough room to grow.
Size comparison using a stencil
Tracing the shape and size of the foot and comparing with the shoe sole. This comparison is usually imprecise.
Rather – If there is a removable insole, take it out and place the foot on the insole, there should be 1/3 inch of space behind the heel and half an inch in front of the toes.
Asking them how it feels
Parents ask kids, “Does the shoe fit?” Unfortunately, the answer will likely be wrong. Often, the nerves in kids’ feet are not fully developed yet and their awareness of pain is clearly lower than an adult’s, so, kids don’t know if the shoe fits.
Rather – First and foremost, measure their feet.
Main findings of the survey
- 65% of all kids are wearing shoes that are too small. Of these, 47% are one size too small and 18% are even two.
- Only 35% are wearing the correct size, and only 11 % of those have room to grow.
- Of the parents surveyed, 52% said they’d never measured their kid’s foot length but instead relied solely on sensorial and visual tests.
About the study
2109 parents answered questions about their kids’ foot length and shoe size. Afterward, we gave them special measuring devices and instructions on how to measure feet properly. The measurement values were used to calculate the actual shoe size, then these results were compared with the parents’ hit or miss values.