If The Shoe Fits, Part II: What Size Shoe Does My Kiddo Need?
Okay, so you just brought out your kid's summer sandals from last year and it turns out . . . they can barely even get their toes in. Your kiddo definitely needs a new pair of shoes. Now, how do you find the right pair, in the right size? Here are a few tips that can help when you go shoe shopping.
1. Pay attention to measurements when shopping online
Normally we would say: Bring your kiddo with you on shoe shopping adventures. But with COVID-19, we are in a new normal. KEEN garages are still closed, and shoe shopping is mostly done online right now. At KEEN, we list shoe sizes in millimeters so you can easily translate your at-home measurements to what pair to order. Plus, we know that finding the right pair for each kid's unique foot isn’t always easy, so returns are always free. This allows your kid to try shoes on and spend some time walking in a potential new pair. You know your child best and should be able to tell if something just isn’t right as they walk, run, or stumble.
Pro tip: Wait until the afternoon or evening to try on new shoes. After a day of play, little feet (or all feet for that matter) swell a little and will give a more accurate picture of a foot in action!
2. Take it all in
Shoe width, length, depth, arch height, toe shape, and ankle and heel fit all factor into whether a kid’s unique and growing feet will be happy in their new shoes. Our KEEN kinesiologist (yes we have a KEENesiologist) recommends looking at these things when your kid tries on shoes.
Look at the old shoes: Notice any wear spots? Try to find a new pair of shoes that gives these spots more room. Make sure to look at both shoes!
Heel and instep: Ensure the heel is secure at the back of the shoe and that the instep is snug and comfy. You don’t want kids’ heels to feel constricted or to slip when they walk.
Foot flex: Look at where the foot flexes versus where the shoe flexes. Make sure that these line up, and that the shoes aren’t forcing your kid’s foot to move in an unnatural way.
Roomy toe box: Make sure there's room in the toe box. Avoid flat or pointy toe boxes. Opt instead for a more boxed or rounded toe. These shapes allow the toes to grow straight, giving them freedom and protecting against rubbing and bruising. Here is where you can also confirm that the growing room of any new pair is sufficient. (Not sure what growing room is? Check out Part I of this series to learn more.)
Overall fit: Give the shoes a squeeze, and feel how the shoe width feels on the foot. In true Goldilocks fashion, you don’t want them to be too tight or too loose.
Pro tip: Try not to be tempted by hand-me-down shoes. Sure, a used pair of kid’s shoes has some appeal. Worn for only a couple months and still have some tread on ‘em!? Why not let the younger sibling wear them? We get it, and we're all about creating long-lasting shoes that minimize impact on the planet. But according to kinesiologist recommendations, this should be avoided since one child’s imprint can create a fit conflict for the new foot that’s trying to adjust to the already defined imprint in the shoe.
3. The jumping, wiggling, running test
Okay, so you think you’ve found the right pair of shoes for your kid’s growing feet? Now comes the fun part. Have kids get their wiggles out and test out the shoes they are trying on. Play a little game of Simon Says. “Simon says . . . hop on one foot. Simon says . . . do five jumping jacks!” Be sure to ask your kid questions about how the shoes feel too. “Can you wiggle your toes? Do your feet slide around? Do the shoes slip in the heel?” Keep an eye on whether their walk looks natural (as natural as a newly walking life form can look). If everything looks good, congratulations. You’ve found the right pair.
Our KEENesiologist and kid-iologists (aka parents) agree, comfortable, great fitting footwear keep kids’ feet healthy and on the move (and smiling while they’re at it). Not sure how to tell if your kid needs new shoes or not? Check out Part I of this article to learn more about the warning signs of poorly fitting shoes. Still have questions on how to outfit your kiddo in the right KEEN shoes, boots, or sandals? Get in touch! We’re available by phone, email, or chat to help.