More than 200 years ago, in 1782, a Dutch anatomist came to the conclusion that the human foot was longer in walking than it was in a state of rest. The natural implication of his discovery was that shoes must be larger than the foot. A few centuries later our children are still wearing shoes that are too small. And why? Because we simply don’t know how to choose the right size!
Parents are often confused when they have to determine the current shoe size of their child’s feet. What are the most popular methods they use to measure the little foot?
- Asking the child directly
This method is not very reliable because the child’s nervous system is not fully developed yet. That is why he or she does not have a pronounced sensitivity for shoes that are too tight, or cannot point to the exact spot where the shoe exerts too much pressure. Did you know that the bones, muscles and tendons of the foot take over 16 years to develop? Can we expect a reliable answer about a body part that is still soft and adaptable so it can even wear a shoe backwards? Most definitely NO.
- Sliding a finger by the heel
Many parents use another method – they put the shoe on the child and try to slip a finger by the heel. If they can, they take this as a signal that there is enough space for the little foot in advance. What is actually happening, however, is that the child instinctively curls her toes, making space for our forefinger.
- Measuring the foot against the sole from the outside
It would have been immensely practical if it was practicable. The important measurement when choosing the right size is not the outer length of the sole but the length of the insole.
We take the liberty of giving the following advice:
- Measure the child’s foot. The right and easy way to do this is by making the child step on a ruler or measuring tape. The child has to be upright, not sitting or lying down.
- Add 12 to 15 mm to the measured length to determine the right size in milimetres. Studies have shown that most children wear shoes that are too small or too big.
- Children’s feet grow by an average of 1.5 mm per month. For bigger children, the average growth is down to 1 mm per month. A shoe that is expected to serve the kid for a whole season (6 to 8 months) should leave the foot free to grow some 9 to 12 mm.