Be they renowned names in footwear such as Nike, Adidas, Stride Rite, Crocs, PLAE or Geox – sizes vary from brand to brand. Some run smaller, others run larger. Use shoe sizes only as an approximation, especially for smaller kids.
The safest way to find the perfectly fitting shoes for you or your child is by using the actual foot measurement. But how do you measure your or your kids’ feet properly? And how do you measure baby feet? Find all the answers below.
What do you want to measure?
How to Measure Your Shoe Size and Width at Home
- The best time to measure your feet is in the afternoon or evening, after your feet have expanded from walking and standing during the day. If you measure your feet in the morning when they are smaller, you might buy the wrong-size shoes
- Put your foot on a piece of paper. Stick the paper to the floor with some tape so that it doesn’t slip.
- Trace the outline of your foot with a pen, holding the pen straight up and down, or perpendicular (at a 90° angle to the paper or floor).
- Measure the longest distance, from the heel to the tip of your longest toe.
- Enter the measurement into the calculator or compare it with the respective shoe size conversion chart.
- Pro tip: If one of your shoes is always too tight, measure both feet and then use the length of the longest foot to calculate the correct size for your footwear. If the two lengths vary a lot, you should consider having your shoes specially made or using special insoles. For instructions on how to measure children’s feet, please see below.
How to Measure Kids Feet
- Measure your feet in the afternoon, as they will become wider and longer during the day.
- Your child should be standing rather than sitting during measurements, as this also affects the size of their feet.
- To measure: Place the foot on a tape measure and measure it from the heel to the tip of the longest toe. This measurement is your child’s shoe size. Look up size in the children’s foot measure chart to the right shoe size.
- Retake measurements every two months – because children’s feet grow incredibly fast!
Did you know that over 65% of kids are wearing shoes that are too small for their feet? Always measure both feet! Differences of half an inch in length are quite common. Half an inch corresponds to a whole shoe size and must be taken into consideration when buying!
Always make your shoe purchases according to the longest foot!
How to Measure Baby Shoe Sizes
There is more than one way to measure the shoe size of your little one.
Some are simpler than others and require fewer materials. One common method, the Brannock Device, a standard tool used to measure foot size, is not suitable for babies.
Some size converters are also available online, but nothing beats actually letting your kid try on the correct shoe before buying. But for those who want to do it in the comfort of their own home, here are the two best ways:
Measuring your Baby’s Feet with a Tape Measure
- Procure a tape measure, paper, and pen for recording the measurements.
- Let your baby lie on its back on the floor and measure.
- Start measuring your baby’s shoe size by measuring both the length and width of the child’s foot. Repeat the process 2-3 times to make sure you are getting the most accurate approximate size.
- Write down the measurements (use inches for US sizes).
How to Measure Toddler Shoe Size Using a 1:1 Shoe Sizing Guide Scale
- Download a printable baby shoe size guide or size converter and set the printing scale to 100%. This will ensure that the size guide has the same ratio as the child’s foot.
- Follow the specific instructions provided in the shoe size chart or guide that you printed. Each size guide tends to have different methods, but in general, you’ll just need to let your baby step on the guide with the biggest toe aligned with the toe in the size guide.
- Write down the measurements. Do this for both feet.
How do I know if a shoe fits?
Remove the insole, or footbed. Place it on the floor and put your foot on top of it. You will be amazed! Why? Because it provides first indications of how the shoe fits in length. This means that the width of the foot cannot be deduced one to one, as the interior of the shoes is usually wider than the footbed.
Check the front of the upper: The front part of the upper is particularly important. If shoes in your usual size are too tight in the front upper, the instep may be insufficient. The leather usually yields slightly. But, of course, you should be able to take off immediately in your new shoes. There should be approximately one-half inch of space between your toes and the tip of your footwear.
Ball and heel: The shoe must sit firmly at the ball and heel of the foot. On the heel, you should have a minimum amount of slippage – footwear that rides up and down when you walk is too large. Especially with higher heels, the heel must not wiggle, otherwise, you are in danger of falling. A shoe that fits holds the foot firmly, especially in the ball area, the widest part of the foot.
Don’t rely only on the “toe test” either – squeezing the tip of the shoe to see if there is room for your child’s toes. Kids tend to curl their toes when you do this, so you may get an inaccurate measurement.
Instead, grasp the front of the shoe, so your child can’t move their toes. Then, check the space between the back of the shoe and the child’s heel with your other hand to feel if there is enough room for your child’s foot to grow.
There should also be a small gap between the heel and the rear of the shoe. However, the heel should not move up and down too much. If it does, readjust the laces. If the heel still moves a lot, the shoe is too loose.
The perfect shoe fit
- Feet expand during the day. Go shoe shopping in the afternoon or evening.
- If possible, wear regular socks. Extremely thick or thin pairs can alter the fit.
- Sizing systems serve only as guides. Even if you choose shoes with your correct “number”, they may not necessarily fit. Even footwear of the same brand may be different. Always try on different sizes of your preferred model.
- Shoes are only comfortable if they fit properly. Take the time to find the right fit.
- Never buy footgear that “just about” fits.
- Always try on the left and the right shoe.
- Take your prospective shoes for a test stroll through the store. Use the stairs. Make sure that you have 0.5 to 1 inch of wiggle room when rolling your foot in the front part of the shoe. This rule does not apply to high-heeled shoes, in which case foot-slippage must be prevented by a firm support.
- In any case, test models from different manufacturers. Some brands are made wider or narrower. Correct width is just as important as length when it comes to optimal comfort. If your feet are narrow, go for a brand with a narrower fit, instead of a smaller shoe size.
- The materials used are hugely relevant to how shoes will fit. Materials such as rubber, leather, artificial leather or fabric stretch in different ways over time. This also affects the fit.
- Women, in particular, often buy shoes too small. The reason: false vanity and outdated beauty ideals. Some manufacturers react to this behavior and, for example, offer an actual size 9 shoe as a size 8 (vanity sizing).
How Much Toe Room Should An Adult Have in Shoes?
For normal shoes, leave 1/2 inch between toes and the front of the shoe, 1/8 inch between your heel and the back of the shoes. Leave more space in running and hiking shoes (about a thumb’s width of space).
How Much Space Should a Child Have in Their Shoes?
Children’s shoes should fit well. Most parents act in an exemplary manner when buying children’s shoes and especially look for enough “wiggle room” for the toes in the shoe.
However, did you know that at least 0.5 – 0.7 inches (12 to 17 millimeters) should be added to foot length? That is how much space your child’s foot needs to be able to roll in the shoe while walking and running around.
How to use a Brannock Device (Shoe Measuring Device for Kids)?
Many parents hold the shoe sole up to the child’s foot to estimate the size. But the length on the inside of the shoe can’t be estimated from the outside and is often much shorter than you’d expect, due to lining, seams, insole, etc. It’s far better to use an appropriate measuring instrument like the Brannock Device.
If there are no specialist shops in your area and you prefer to buy online, an investment in a Brannock Device might be a good alternative. Prices for Brannock Devices start at around 25 USD, used, on eBay or Craigslist, or new at 60 USD.
Stand on the Brannock Device. Press heel firmly against the rear cup. Stretch out toes and measure length of foot. Use the diagonal width line to measure the width of the foot. Repeat procedure with other foot and go for the longer/wider shoe size.