Proper measuring and fitting are the most important part of buying kids’ boots. Fitting kids’ boots can be tricky business because no two feet or two boots are the same. Plus, kids’ feet grow so fast, finding a boot that will fit now and two or three months down the line can seem almost impossible. But with proper measuring and fitting you can avoid sore feet and ensure a comfortable, long-lasting fit.
The most common way to measure feet is the Brannock device. The Brannock device is the metal contraption found in most retail shoe and boot stores. Always measure both feet on the device because children’s feet are not necessarily the same size. If your child has two different sized feet, fit the larger foot. Remember to have your child wear socks while measuring his or her feet. Socks increase foot size and can cause undue pressure if not taken into account. Measure your child’s feet late in the day. Feet can swell during the day and at are their largest size in the late afternoon and evening.
When measuring, be sure to account for length and width. For length, have your child stand up as straight as possible and extend the foot fully. Position the heel against the end of the measuring device. First, measure the full foot length, heel to toes. Then measure the foot length from heel to ball. This second measurement is called the heel to arch length. Some children have long toes and some children have short toes. Taking the arch length into account will prevent longer toes from bending inside the boot. For width, measure the widest part of the foot. The widest part of the foot is the diagonal line from the joint of the big toe to the joint of the little toe.
Only once you have the measurements yourself should you ask the store employee to measure. Then compare your measurements to the employee’s measurements. If they don’t match, double check. Now you are ready to fit the boot. Remember though, just because you have proper measurements does not mean the boot will automatically fit. Manufacturer sizes are not standardized. Each boot manufacturer uses a different set of measurements, so proper fitting cannot be overlooked.
To properly fit a boot, your child must try the boot on. Just as your child wore socks for measuring, wear socks for trying the boot on as well. Always try both boots on in case your child’s feet are different sizes. Fit the boot by gently slipping it over your child’s foot and ankle. First, check toe length. Feel for scrunched up toes. Toes should have half an inch of clearance from the end of the boot. Any less and your child may outgrow the boot too quickly, any more and the boot will be too big for your child, potentially causing slips and falls.
Next have your child walk around. For maximum comfort, the boots should crease over the top of the toes, not too far forward or too far backward. As your child walks, watch for bulges on the sides and top of the boot. Bulges on the sides indicate the boot is not wide enough. Bulges on the top mean that the shoe is not deep enough for your child’s feet. The boot should be snug around the forefoot, heel, and ankle, but never bulging. A good method to ensure a proper fit is to have your child move each foot as far forward into the boot as possible. Then ask your child to put their index finger down the back of the book along the line of the Achilles tendon or the ankle. The finger should fit comfortably. If your child has to force his or her finger in, the boots are too tight. If more than one finger can fit, the boots are too big.
After measuring, fitting, and walking around in the boots, you should know whether or not the boot fits. If your child feels any pain during the fitting or walking around process, the boot doesn’t fit. If you see any of the warning signs above, the boot doesn’t fit. Because kids’ feet grow so fast, you may want to buy one size up. As long as there are no signs of slipping, this should be fine, although any more than one size up puts your child at risk of tripping and falling. Even after properly fitting and buying the boots, remember to continue to check your child’s feet for soreness, redness, or blistering. Check at least once a month and also watch for any limping while your child is wearing the boots. These are all signs that your child has outgrown the boots and needs a new pair.
Boots are a fashionable way for your child to look his or her best. But they can be more difficult to fit than a normal shoe. With these tips in mind, you should be able to find the right boot for your child while preventing injury or foot pain.