Children’s shoes – your guide to buying shoes for school

Too tight, too loose, or just right? Read our expert guide to ensure you get the best fitting shoes for your child

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Children’s feet grow at an incredible rate so it’s vital to get their feet carefully measured every time you buy new shoes – especially school shoes. Badly fitting, uncomfortable (or too high!) footwear can cause a lifetime of misery from blisters to bunions.

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Clarks‘ foot fitting manager Bob Hardy, who’s helped design Clarks shoes for 40 years, offers some top tips to getting the perfect fit for your little one. 

What’s the number one tip for getting the right shoes for a child?

“Get your child’s feet professionally measured. The first thing to remember is how much wear your children will get out of their shoes. An average child will wear their school shoes for 1,000 hours and take one million steps before they wear out. So the shoes need to be comfortable and durable. Less than a third of children are a standard fitting, so you should look for ranges of shoes that accommodate half sizes and different widths.”

How much do children’s feet grow and should you buy shoes slightly bigger to make them last longer?

“There’s a big variation for different children. On average, they may grow two full sizes a year until they’re 4 or 5, and then around a shoe size each year until their mid-teens. The most important thing about shoes is that they need to be proportioned properly. Don’t buy a size up because the shoes will be disproportionate to the foot shape.”

When should you buy a new pair of shoes?

“It varies depending on how old your child is and how active. If they’re not worn out you can always take your child back to the store to check if the shoes are still the right size. If they are, you won’t need to buy a new pair until the ones you have are too small.”

Should you avoid heels on children’s shoes?

“Anything over one inch is going to affect the way a child walks so I would disuade any child from wearing heels for general day-to-day wear. You only have one pair of feet and a bit of hard skin or blistering will heal but changes in the bones can lead to bunions and your big toes will never work as they should again.”

What can your child’s shoes tell you about the way he walks?

“Before age 5 it’s probably not worth worrying. But by the time your child’s at school, the wear should be on the outside corner of the heel and fairly even wear to the front. If there’s wear on the inside of the sole, it could indicate your child is not walking correctly.

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“The things that will look different if there is a problem are the shape of the top of the shoe – it shouldn’t slope to either side as this indicates too much pressure on that side. If you notice anything, it’s worth mentioning to your GP as he can refer you to a podriatrist who can use some very simple ways to correct it.”

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