According to a 2017 study, nearly ⅔ of all children in the United States wear shoes that are too small. To break it down: of the 2100 participants only 35% were wearing the size for which they were measured, and only 11% were wearing the optimal size with growing room.
So what kind of growing room should you look for?
"Kids need extra space in their shoes. At least ½ an inch of additional room is optimal, allowing them to roll properly through their feet when walking."
Most orthopedists and podiatrists agree that this extra ½ inch provides the best fit for a child's shoe. It allows them to wear the shoe now, but also in a few months. Norman Espinosa, M.D—an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Zurich Balgrist—also agrees that the length of the shoe should exceed the length of the child's foot by at least 10mm; however, 12mm is ideal.
Why are so many children ending up in shoes that don’t fit properly, then?
Firstly, in the original study, more than half of the parents said that this was the first time their child’s feet had been measured. Most of them had depended on visual and sensory tests, which are highly unreliable as the nerves in a child’s feet are not fully developed until they are about 18 years old.
Second, Dr. Espinosa and his researchers found:
“[T]he shoe sizes given by the manufacturers almost never matched with the true sizes measured.”
There is no industry standard for shoe sizing, and if you’ve ever stepped foot in a sit and fit style shoe store, you’ll know that the numbers on the labels are used only as a guideline.
What are some issues caused by small shoes?
Clack, E. E. (2017, November 9). Are Your Kids Wearing Shoes That Are Too Small? New Study Reveals Why 65 Percent Are in Wrong Sizes. Footwear News.
Silverman, L. (2017, November 07). What Can Happen If Your Kids Wear The Wrong Size Shoes: Foot Doctor in Bloomington. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.anklefootmd.com/what-can-happen-if-your-kids-wear-the-wrong-size-shoes/