Just in time for the start of the new school year, the Austrian research team “Children’s Feet – Children’s Shoes” has summarized parents’ most frequently asked questions in a handy reference sheet.

1. Tip: Don’t rely on what your kids say!

Why not? Children honestly can’t tell if their shoes fit properly. In one of our most interesting experiments, we demonstrated that children can feel comfortable in shoes up to 4 sizes too small.

2. Tip: Don’t rely on shoe sizes!

Why not? Studies have shown that over 90% (!) of kids’ shoes are labeled with the wrong size. Interestingly, the shoes are almost always shorter in length than they should be. (Kinder in zu kurzen Schuhen, Pädiatrie & Podologie 3, 2015. Note: This article is in German, but an English abstract is available)


3. Tip: Shoes need to have 12 mm (½ inch) extra space at the toe.

Why? Feet in motion need this extra room, and if it’s not available, the toes suffer. 12 mm (½ inch) may sound like a lot, but it’s only about as wide as the tip of an adult’s pinky finger. In fact, new shoes can have up to 17 mm (¾ inch) extra space (the width of your thumb).

4. Tip: Always measure both the length of the child’s foot and the inside length of the shoes.

Why? This lets you know right away if the shoes offer enough extra space. If buying shoes online, ask the seller to provide the inside length.

5. Tip: Don’t be afraid to re-use hand-me-down shoes.

Why not? Hand-me-down shoes are a sensible alternative from both an economical and environmental perspective, as long as they are not worn down unevenly and are at least 12-17 mm (½– ¾ inch) longer than the child’s feet.

6. Tip: You don’t have to buy the most expensive shoes.

Why not? Contaminant analyses conducted by consumer protection agencies Stiftung Warentest and Ökotest have shown that expensive shoes are just as likely to contain contaminants as cheaper ones. Our own research has demonstrated that labeled shoe sizes can be dramatically misleading both in brand-name shoes and no-name footwear. 

7. Tip: When in doubt, ask an expert (us!).

Why? Around 98% of all children are born with healthy feet, but some 40% of adults have podiatric complaints. Talk to us: info@kidsfeet.info