What is a good fit?

A “Good fit” is a shoe that goes on easily, is secure on the child’s foot and has room for growth.

Of course there is a little more to it than that.

Growing Room

Children’s shoes should always be purchased with room for growth. The ideal amount of growing room is about a thumbs width, but only half that for new walkers and toddlers.

Sometimes we hear parents asking for extra growth room, to make sure the child gets plenty of wear out of the shoes. Whilst we understand that shoes are a major purchase, we strongly advise against excessive length as this can cause tripping, or cause the child to scrunch their toes to keep the shoes on (leading to long term foot health problems).


A shoe should neither be so wide it is slopping about, or so narrow that it is constricting the foot and feels overly “full”. Velcro straps should reach over the foot to fasten securely, and zips should not be forced up over a bulging foot.


Sometimes a shoe can be too deep, particularly for those with narrow or shallow feet. An additional innersole can help lift the foot if required. When running your thumb across the top of the shoe, you should be able to detect the toes!

Depth is particularly important in Mary-Jane shoes. Ideally you will be able to run your finger lightly between the foot and the shoe. If the foot is too tight against the shoe to enable this, the style is too narrow for the child. If there is a significant gap between the foot and the shoe, the addition of an innersole can help improve the fit.

Secure Heel Fit

Shoes should not slip up and down at the back when the child walks. Ensure that fastenings are done up securely and then ask your child to have a practise walk in the new shoes. The aim is for a natural walk, with no slipping at the heel. Please be aware that it is very common for children to “perform” when trying on new shoes and to develop all kinds of strange walks! If this occurs, try to distract them so they are not thinking about their new shoes.

If the shoe is slipping, check the fastenings, and potentially try adding an innersole if the child has a narrow or shallow foot. This can help lift the foot into the heel cup of the shoe, enabling a secure fit.

Ankle Bone

One last thing to check is that the shoe is not cutting straight across their ankle bone. This almost inevitably leads to rubbing, it is best to choose a style that either rises above the ankle bone (e.g. a high top) or sits comfortably below it.