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.

BEFORE BUYING

1. Always measure your child’s foot.

Your child’s feet can be measured in different ways, as:

  1. Put your child’s feet to the wall and make a line at the longest toe. Then, measure the length from the wall to the line. This is the simplest method, which I usually use.
  2. Make the drawing around both feet on a piece of paper and measure the length from mid-heel to the longest toe. Be sure to hold a pen vertically and that your child does not move his feet.
  3. Use a measuring device. On the market you can find different foot measurers, eg. Plus12 or Clevermess. There are also many cheaper alternatives that you can find online.
Different ways of measuring kid’s feet
Left: against the wall, in the middle: drawing around the foot, right: with a foot measurer

While measuring, make sure that your child is standing straight, with a relaxed foot and without toe gripping. A child heel should not push firmly against the wall, just touching it.

The foot width can be measured with a help of a ruler or the width can be read from the foot drawing.

Always make measurements for both feet. Sometimes one foot can be slightly longer than the other.

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

3. Consider the required amount of space before the toes

The required amount of space before the toes depends on the age of the child, the width of the foot and the shoe type.

Age of the child

For younger children who have just started to walk, it is recommended to have less space before the toes (somewhere up to max. 10 mm). The older the child is, the more space you can afford (up to 15 mm space). I usually choose this amount of space in winter boots, in other shoes I prefer to choose a slightly less space.

Foot width

If your child has a very narrow feet, it could need less additional space in front of the toes as a child with a wide feet and high instep.
Wide footed child can therefore have the same shoe with a little bit more extra space as a child with a narrow feet.

Shoe type

The amount of space depends also on the shoe type. For the classic closed-toe shoes you can choose 10-15 mm space in front of the toes, for open-toe sandal is recommended to choose less to prevent tripping (up to 6 mm). You can have a little bit more extra space in winter boots (using of thicker socks).

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 .

FITTING THE SHOE

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.

Always check the inside lenght of the shoe.

2. Check the insole

If the shoe has the insole, put your child’s foot on it and check how his foot fit on the insole. Check if there is enough space in front of toes and if the foot does not hang over the insole. 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.

KIDS FEET ARE CONSTANTLY GROWING

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

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.

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