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Online Shoe Shopping Guide for Kids: Finding the Perfect Fit – On the Move – First Walkers Blog

Online Shoe Shopping Guide for Kids: Finding the Perfect Fit

Prioritising proper fit when shopping for kids' shoes online ensures comfort for active play while protecting growing feet from deformities & injury.

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By George Croft
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Edited by Nelsy Mtsweni

Updated June 13, 2024.

A parent and child browsing shoes to buy online

Finding time for in-person shopping can be a real challenge for busy parents who have to balance work and family responsibilities. Thankfully, the convenience of online shopping has made it easier than ever to browse and purchase items from the comfort of your home—including shoes for kids.

However, the inability to try on shoes before purchasing can make the process daunting, leaving you worried about ending up with an ill-fitting pair. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to confidently navigate the world of online shoe shopping for kids.

Importance of Proper-Fitting Shoes for Growing Feet

Children's feet are constantly growing and changing, making it crucial to prioritise comfort, fit, and foot health when selecting shoes. Ill-fitting shoes can have serious consequences beyond just causing discomfort.

Why Sizing Up Isn't the Solution

Choosing shoes that are too large might seem like a cost-effective way to accommodate a child’s growing feet. However, this approach often leads to more problems than it solves.

  • Excessive movement: Too large shoes allow the foot to move excessively, leading to discomfort and potential blisters from constant friction against the skin. This movement can also cause ingrown toenails due to toes pressing against the shoe's interior.
  • Altered gait: Oversized shoes can restrict free movement, forcing the child to change their natural gait to keep the shoes on. This adaptation can result in poor posture and possibly lead to back pain from unnatural alignment and strain on the spine.
  • Compromised stability: Oversized shoes can compromise a child's stability, increasing the risk of trips and falls during active play. Opting for the best shock-absorbing shoes can enhance safety and stability
  • Increased risks: The cumulative effect of these issues elevates the risk of falls and injuries. While the initial savings from buying bigger shoes may seem appealing, the potential health implications and safety risks are significant considerations.

» Toddler feet growing pains? Here’s how you can help

When to Consider Ordering Up

While not ideal, there may be some situations to consider opting for a larger size:

  • Accommodating growth spurts: If your child is approaching a growth spurt based on age/developmental milestones, going up 1/2 size could buy more wear. This can ensure the footwear remains comfortable and usable for a longer period, reducing the need for frequent replacements while also negating the aforementioned risks.
  • Preparing for adult sizes: For kids ages 10+, ordering their anticipated adult size may make sense so the shoes last longer. But, those sizes should not be excessively larger than their current need. This strategy can be particularly cost-effective, as it extends the lifespan of the footwear through this transitional growth phase.

» Here's how a toddler's shoes should fit

Accurate Measurement: The Key to Finding the Right Fit

Step-by-Step Measuring Guide

  1. Use a flat surface, rigid ruler, or printable sizing template
  2. Measure both feet (sizes can vary) from the heel to the longest toe
  3. Consider adding a thumb's width (around 1/2 inch) for the growing room
  4. Double-check measurements and refer to the retailer's size chart

Converting to Shoe Size

Retailers provide size conversion charts, but if unsure, contact customer service for accurate recommendations. Familiarize yourself with UK, US, and EU sizing and use the retailer's charts to navigate between them.

When to Measure

Measure children's feet every 2-3 months, preferably at the end of the day when their feet are largest, as they expand throughout the day.

» Find out more about how to measure your child's feet for shoes

5 Tips for Buying Kids' Shoes Online

First Walkers infographic showing the five tips for buying kids' shoes online

1. Consider the Activity

Look for adaptative footwear designed for your child's specific needs and activities—whether it's formal shoes for school, durable trainers for sports, or comfortable sandals for the summer holidays. This variety ensures that you can find shoes that fit well and cater to your child's preferences and requirements.

2. Evaluate Materials

Investing in shoes made from durable materials is not only cost-effective in the long run but also important for your child's foot health, from sure-footed toddlers to babies just learning to walk. Breathable, durable materials like leather and mesh, often considered some of the best shoe fabrics for children's feet, can withstand active play while keeping feet comfortable.

3. Study the Reviews

Customer reviews offer information on sizing, comfort, quality, and more. Pay close attention to fit-related feedback and look for balanced reviews that discuss both positives and negatives to get a well-rounded understanding of the shoes.

4. Prioritise Quality Over Cost

High-quality shoes offer better support, last longer, and are more comfortable, reducing the risk of foot problems. Check product descriptions and customer reviews for insights into materials and construction. Investing in well-made shoes from reputable brands can save money in the long run.

5. Involve Your Kid

To ensure a positive experience when purchasing kids' shoes online, it's crucial to involve your child in the selection process where possible. This not only makes them feel valued and heard but also gets them excited about wearing the shoes they've helped pick out.

» Learn how to take care of leather footwear properly

Finalizing Your Purchase

Before clicking "checkout", take a moment to review and double-check:

Measurements and Size

Revisit your child’s foot measurements and compare them against the retailer’s size guide one last time before purchasing. This final check minimizes the risk of returns and ensures a better fit right from the start.

Retailer Policies

Read the fine print on returns, exchanges, and warranties to know what to expect if adjustments are needed. Ensure the shoes you're choosing have built-in arch support for extra comfort and a better fit right from the start.

A generous return window (ideally 30+ days) and free returns can provide peace of mind when ordering online.

Shipping Times

Planning your purchases in advance can help you avoid any urgent shoe needs and reduce the stress of waiting for a delivery. If you're in a rush, look for retailers that offer expedited shipping options.

First Steps, Best Fits

With this comprehensive guide, you're now equipped to confidently navigate the world of online shoe shopping for kids.

Remember: while the initial investment in well-made shoes may cost more upfront, the long-term benefits of protecting your child's foot health and development are priceless.

So browse through our shoe collections and experience the satisfaction of finding that just-right pair of kicks that support natural growth and movement.


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