It has finally happened – the kids are going back to school. You’re no doubt heartbroken that you can once again enjoy a quiet moment alone to yourself, but you have to take care of the back-to-school shopping before you readjust to life without quite so much screaming.

Make buying your kids the right shoes a priority. Because their feet won’t stop growing until they’re in their early 20s, children frequently wear old shoes that no longer fit their feet correctly. According to a recent study, 65 percent of children are wearing shoes that are too small for their feet. If your child is one of them, they’re at risk of developing numerous painful foot conditions.


What Can Happen If a Child’s Shoes Are Too Small?

When you wear shoes that are too small, you put yourself at risk of developing foot deformities. Children are no exception to this rule. Just like adults, children may suffer from one or more of the following conditions when they wear undersized shoes.

  • Bunion – Also known as hallux valgus, a bunion is a bony bump at the base of the big toe that forms when foot bones move (or are gradually forced) out of place. While bunion is treatable through Lapiplasty, prevention is always preferable to treatment.
  • Blisters – While not very painful and relatively easy to treat on its own, a foot blister does pose a risk of potentially serious infection. In worst case scenarios, foot blisters can become infected by life-threatening flesh-eating bacteria.
  • Flatfoot – Also known as pes planus, flat feet are associated with many risk factors including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heavy athletic activity. Children are also at higher risk of developing flatfoot when they wear shoes that are too tight or narrow.
  • Corns – Commonly mistaken for warts, corns are simply small, round patches of thick skin. Corns are deeper than calluses, and may become painful when the affected area is placed under pressure.
  • Hammertoe – A condition where one or more toes curl upright instead of lying flat, hammertoe causes pain when toes begin abrading against the top of the shoe. Fortunately, treatment is often as simple as switching to shoes with roomier toe boxes.
  • Crossover toe – Like hammertoe, crossover toe is frequently caused by wearing shoes with tight toe boxes. Constant pressure can cause the second or third toe to overlap with the adjacent toe.
  • Ingrown toenail – Although high heels and work boots are the two most common footwear-related causes of ingrown toenail, any tight-fitting shoe poses a risk of pushing the corner or side of the toenail into the soft surrounding flesh.

How to Make Sure a Child’s Shoes Fit Correctly

None of the above conditions are pleasant, so needless to say you would rather your child avoid them altogether. Fortunately, fitting your child’s shoes correctly is easy – just follow these pointers.

  • Select shoes that fit your child’s longer foot. Sixty percent of people have differently sized feet, with one foot significantly longer than the other. If your child falls in the majority, purchase shoes which would both fit their longer foot.
  • Do not rely on shoe sizes. Shoe sizes are not standardized. In other words, the insoles of a pair of size 13C Nikes are probably neither as long nor as wide as the insoles of a pair of size 13C Reeboks. That’s why shoes are truly “try before you buy.”
  • Give your child’s feet room to grow. Don’t underestimate how quickly kids’ feet grow. Children who are four to six years of age may move up a shoe size every six months. Foot growth decelerates as children grow older, but you should still ensure your kid’s shoes give them at least half an inch of room to grow.
  • Check your child’s shoes regularly. Your child’s relative unfamiliarity with the world likely includes not understanding how their own shoes are supposed to fit. Don’t rely on them to tell you when their shoes have become uncomfortable – take initiative and regularly check for them.
  • Measure your child’s foot accurately. Measuring your child’s foot is simple enough with a tape measure, but this reusable printout makes the process far more convenient.
  • Understand children’s shoe sizes. Once again, shoe sizes are not standardized, so relying solely on the number stitched to a shoe’s tongue is not enough to ensure a correct fit. Still, understanding how children’s shoe sizes work will help you home in on the best fit for your child more quickly.
Child Shoe Size Chart
Age Size Foot Length (in)
0-12 Months 0 3 1/8
0.5 3 1/4
1 3 1/2
1.5 3 5/8
2 3 3/4
2.5 4
3 4 1/8
3.5 4 1/4
4 4 1/2
12-24 Months 4.5 4 5/8
5 4 3/4
5.5 5
6 5 1/8
6.5 5 1/4
7 5 1/2


7.5 5 5/8
8 5 3/4
8.5 6
9 6 1/8
9.5 6 1/4
10 6 1/2
10.5 6 5/8
11 6 3/4
11.5 7
12 7 1/8


12.5 7 1/4
13 7 1/2
13.5 7 5/8
1 7 3/4
1.5 8
2 8 1/8
2.5 8 1/4
3 8 1/2
8-12 Years 3.5 8 5/8
4 8 3/4
4.5 9
5 9 1/8
5.5 9 1/4
6 9 1/2
6.5 9 5/8
7 9 3/4


If you or your child are suffering from any of the conditions that could result from ill-fitting shoes, then the passionate podiatrists of Twin Cities Foot & Ankle Clinic are available to see you right away. We welcome you to contact us today to schedule a visit at our convenient foot clinic location in Golden Valley, MN!