With more and more high street stores and supermarkets offering off the shelf children’s shoes you could be mistaken for thinking that this is a good thing and that it can’t be that hard to fit a pair of shoes. However, although these styles may have their place for quick fashion solutions, such as a pair of holiday sandals or party shoes for a one off occasion, if you are looking for a pair of shoes for your child to wear all day, as a main pair of shoes, then for quality and for service you are best to choose a shop that offers a qualified professional fitting service.

From the moment you walk in to a store an experienced shoe fitter will be looking at your child’s natural walk, in their current shoes, even before even touching a foot gauge. By looking and feeling your child’s feet, before they even step onto a foot gauge, it may look like we are just straightening their socks but in fact we are looking to see the depth of the foot, how high the arch is and which is the longest toe (as it will not always be the big toe) and the shape of the foot: - round, square or tapered. Once on the foot gauge we will take a measurement of the length and width of each foot. Measuring children's feetThis may be different for each foot as approximately 1 in 3 children have a difference in either length of width in their feet. Your child’s foot may be between the conventional UK half sizes or even the European sizes. By putting all the information we have gathered together we can start to put together the sort of styles that might suit your child’s foot and the appropriate size to start with.

Certain styles will suit different shapes of feet. Some parents who have children with feet who find it difficult to find shoes will know more about this than those who can seemingly can wear anything. A child with a high arch may find that a double Velcro fastening or a T-bar style will provide a better fit. A wide foot can often fit better into a square deep shoe.

Once styles have been selected the trained shoe fitter will check the fit against various criteria. This will include checking that the heel and fastening is secure and that there is plenty of room in the toe box. When your child is then asked to walk in the shoes the shoe fitter is looking for a natural walk, with no tripping and similar to the way in which your child walked into the store. Fitting children's shoesThis is not always an easy task as often children are either self-conscious or so full of energy that they want to run around. However, a relaxed slow walk is the ideal pace that will be encouraged so that as the child walks away the shoe fitter can get as full a picture as possible of their walk and the child’s shoes. There should be no sign of movement in the shoe and, on their return, there should be no creasing across the toes. If there are any issues with the fitting of the shoes a qualified shoe fitter will be able to adjust the fit of the shoes using various aids and experience, such as tightening or loosening the fastenings or modifying footbeds, to achieve the best fit possible for that style. If a style is not suitable you will always be advised. It is not in a shoe fitter’s long term interest’s to try to sell any pair of children’s shoes if they were not happy with the fit.

A trained shoe fitter may also be able to advise on potential foot health issues that they pick up on during the fitting process and can offer advice. Such as in turning, flat arches, start of bunions. Those shoe fitters qualified through the Society of Shoe Fitters will also be aware of the features of a shoe to look for when serving children with diabetes or those that have to have special podiatrist insoles and orthotics included in their shoes.

So next time you look at a shoe fitter and think that we are just straightening socks, getting a length measurement and finding a pair of shoes in that size remember what else is going on in our minds to ensure that your child has the best possible fitting pair of shoe or boots that we stock. Could you walk into a high street clothing chain and get the same service?