Do you struggle with buying a suitable barefoot shoes for your kids? Well, you are not the only one.

Little feet grow quickly and small childen don’t know how to tell if the shoe has a really good fit. Therefore, buying barefoot shoes for kids can be a huge challenge.

Below you can find some tips and tricks that I use when I buy barefoot shoes for my kids. I recommend you to read the post about choosing the right shoe size too.

This guide here is written for buying kids shoes. But everything that is true for kids is also for adults.


1. Always measure your child’s foot.

Detailed instructions how to measure feet you can find here.

2. Compare the foot’s length and width measurements with shoe measurements

Sometimes given inside length of the shoe of the manufacturer is not accurate. Therefore, you should always check the shoe measurements provided by different online shops and compare it with the producer’s one.

Various online retailers often make measurements of the internal width of the shoes, made with Clevermess or similar measuring device. Measurements are approximate only, but they can be a great help in assessing the width of the shoe. They can help you eliminate too narrow and too wide shoes.

Websites where I check the length and width of the shoes are available here.

If the brand have available foot templates for shoes, print them out, place the child’s foot on it and check if the size fits. Be sure to print out the template in the correct scale.

Children’s foot on the template

More about measuring shoes you can read here.

3. Consider the required amount of space before the toes

Age of the child

No matter how old the child is, according to current research, it is recommended to have approx. 10-12 mm of space in front of the toes in closed shoes. However, the required amount of space in front of the toes also depends on the type of footwear and how the shoe fits you and how well it mimics the shape of the foot. Read more here.

Shoe type

The amount of space depends also on the shoe type. For open-toe sandal is recommended to choose less to prevent tripping (up to 7-10 mm) and for winter shoes more to add some room for thicker socks.

Foot width

According to Šťastné nôžky, the minimum recommended shoe width is at least 2 mm more than your foot width is.

4. Check if the shoe is really a barefoot shoe

Before buying, always check if the shoe is a barefoot shoe (except when deliberately opt for some “barefoot-friendly” variant). List can be found here. If the shoe is not on the list or if you are not sure if the selected shoe is a barefoot shoe, ask for advice .


1. Measure the inside length of the shoe

Once you get your shoes, check the inside length and width of the shoe. I always measure inside length of the shoe with Plus12 measurer, sometimes I use a soft tape measure, which can be used only in some cases.

More on measuring the inside length of the shoes you can read here.

Always check the inside lenght of the shoe.

2. Check the insole

The insole can only be an approximate indication of whether the shoe suits you or not. However, it is not an accurate indicator. The insole can be narrower, wider, longer or shorter than the actual inner length and width of the shoe, so always try to feel what the shoe feels like and finally estimate the amount of space there.

More about the insole you can read here.

Example of feet on the insole with 12 mm extra space in front of the toes.

3. Try the shoe in the afternoon

It is recommended that the child try the shoe with socks (if he is going to wear them like this) and in the afternoon, when our foot is slightly larger.

3. Estimate the necessary width

When the child is wearing shoes, try it with your fingers how much space he has around his toes. There should be a little space around them (small spacing between the toes and the shoe). Only like this his toes will have enough enough space to spread while walking.

4. Check the depth of the shoe at the instep

Check how the shoes fit your child at the instep. Very young children often have a high instep, so check if the shoes are deep enough at the instep area for him.

5. Check the fit around the ankle

The shoe must fit well around the ankle. The heel shouldn’t slip out of the shoe.

Gently pull the shoe at the heel to evaluate the fit at the heel area.

If the heel is slipping out of the shoe, try to tighten the laces or velcro to make a shoe more secure around the ankle.

Show your child how he should tighten the shoe when he put on the shoes by himself.

If the shoe can’t be tighten enough, then the fit s not ok.

The shoe must fit snug around the ankle.
Left: a good fit, right: to much space around the ankle

6. Encourage your child to walk in the shoe

Children should try to walk around the house or the shop in the shoe. Check if his walking is as natural as when he is walking barefoot. If not, then the shoe is probably not a good fit.


Therefore, regularly check the lenght of your child’s feet every 2-3 months and more frequently if necessary. In summer feet can grow faster.

The growth of small children feet can be even faster. Therefore, the length of their feet should be checked even frequently than with older children.


The shoe will fit you well if:

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