Is it just me or is shoe shopping for kids stressful? I don’t just mean the back to School shoe shop hell, but the general pressure of getting the correct fit. I always get their feet measured as I worry I will do some damage putting them in ill fitting shoes. They all have narrow feet too (sorry kids) meaning we have to get the width fitted shoes and can’t just pick up any from the shelf. I was asked if we would like to come and try Brantano’s free shoe fitting service at our local store, so last week we went to see what it was all about.
I’ve not been to Brantano to have their feet measured for a long time and was expecting the old style put your foot on a board. I was pleasantly surprised to see they used the same technology that you find in somewhere like Clarks. Both boys enjoyed choosing their character and saying their name and age. They had their feet carefully measured and the shoe fitter talked me through which foot was wider as they both had one and if one was longer. She explained how they put in the largest measurement for the width but take a note of any large differences for when checking the fitting of the shoes.
The one thing that she did that I haven’t been told before was details about their foot shape and instep. She then explained the styles of shoes that would suit their particular feet.
What I particularly liked about Brantano’s free shoe fitting service was the cards that they give you to keep with all the details on. I always think I will remember their sizes and then promptly forget them or get them muddled up now they are so close. This card is great and one of the reasons I will use them again.
Finlay needed a pair of flipflop sandals for going on holiday and I knew they stocked doodles so the shoe fitter carefully checked the fitting of a pair of them for him and then he later had a meltdown when his brother got to chose a pair of trainers. So she very kindly then helped to find a pair of trainers for him too (he did need a new pair).
I didn’t know that at Brantano they stocked so many different brands of shoes and trainers. You aren’t as limited as in other shoe shops meaning you aren’t as restricted with price either. I usually buy the boys branded trainers in a sports shop fitting them myself and asking someone to check, who usually just glances at them and declares that they fit. I then worry that they aren’t going to fit properly so being able to get their trainers properly fitted was a relief.
I found the shoe fitter to be very thorough and even when Finlay decided he really liked a pair of trainers she was confident in telling him they didn’t fit brilliantly and went off to get a pair of insoles to try and see if it helped. Meanwhile he had managed to find another pair which fitted him perfectly, luckily. The shoe fitter was extremely patient and very good with the boys, she helped us the whole time we were there.
I left with two very happy boys with new trainers that I was confident fitted their feet well. I was so impressed with Brantano’s free shoe fitting service and the range of shoes available I will definitely be shoe shopping there again. Thank you!
One of Brantano’s expert shoe fitters Louise Williams has provided some answers to common questions people have about children’s shoe fitting and shoes. I have to say that I’m impressed with what they offer to help for children with Autism or those who may find shoe shopping a stressful experience!
Do Brantano offer special fitting sessions for children with Autism or similar?
Brantano appreciates that every child is different and tries to accommodate the needs of both child and parent. This can include making specific appointments (even out of hours), making adjustments in store, such as turning off music or having a designated quiet area. If you have concerns then the best thing to do is to call your local Brantano store who will be happy to discuss your individual needs.
How often should you get measured and from what age?
Children should be kept out of shoes for as long as possible and you should only consider shoes once they can pull themselves up and start walking. First shoes should always be made from soft, flexible material and not have stiff or hard soles.
As the child’s feet grow, you will notice that styles of shoes and the sole units change in order to provide extra support and protection. Brantano offers many first shoes in its stores, stocking Clarks (such as Little Bunny, Little Ida, Little Ditz) which are all classed as first shoes – so perfect for crawling, cruising and first steps. If you have concerns about when to buy shoes then Brantano’s expert fitters are on hand to measure, fit and offer advice for your child’s first pair.
How often should I get my toddlers feet measured? She seems to have been the same size for a while and her shoes don’t feel tight?
Children’s feet tend to grow in spurts, so it’s quite normal for the size to stay the same for a while – typically speaking, children’s feet grow around two sizes each year. As a general rule, we would recommend a measure and fit check every four to six weeks for pre-walkers (under two years) and then approximately every 10-12 weeks from two years. At Brantano, the measuring and fitting service is completely free and you are never obliged to buy – so feel free to pop into your local store as often as you like, have your child’s feet measured and existing shoes checked by one of the expert fitters.
Is there a maximum length of time children should wear shoes before taking them off for a bit, or does it not matter if you have breathable shoes?
There is no specific time that is given to wearing shoes; however children’s feet should be given as much freedom as possible in order to help the feet develop naturally – especially in younger children – so taking shoes off, for example on long car journeys, is a good idea.
Shoes made from leather definitely help, as leather is a porous material meaning it naturally allows the feet to breath – this is especially important if a child has sweaty feet. When the feet get hot they also have a tendency to swell and in poorly fitted shoes this can cause more problems the longer they are worn.
After measuring foot size with a tool, what do fitters look for when a customer tries on a shoe?
When children’s feet are measured, the size given is what we refer to as a ‘starting point’ and this is because we take many other things, such as style and brand, into consideration. Shoe fitters will check that there is enough growing room in the length but not too much to cause trips or blisters. They will also check the width (widest part of the foot which is between the toe joints), the instep (or arch), especially where fasteners, such as laces or buckles, are concerned. They’ll also check that the ankle bones are sitting comfortably on the collar and that the shoe grips the heel when walking.
How can I tell whether the person fitting my child’s shoes is doing a good job?
An experienced trained fitter will spend time with you and your child and discuss the best styles for their foot size and shape. They will take time checking the fit in length, width, depth, heel grip and walking ability. They are also more than happy to explain and demonstrate what they are checking for so you can check the fit at home.
Why is shoe fitting so random? My son has very wide, high feet, with very high arches and it’s a complete lottery as to which shoes might possibly fit him.
Every single shoe is developed on a ‘last’ (a foot-shaped piece of plastic or wood) so the size will vary between shoes. This is why it is so important to get the shoe on the foot to see how it fits. Unfortunately size and fit does also differ slightly between brands and styles – this is why it’s always recommended to get shoes fitted by a fully trained fitter. Time of day and socks can also result in different measurements, as feet swell slightly as the day goes on. The best time to get feet measured is in the afternoon. If shoes have a Velcro fasten, then the strap should cover approximately 80% of the Velcro for the shoe to have a comfortable fit.
My Mum always goes on about buying School shoes a size bigger so they last the whole School year. What damage could this do to their feet/comfort or is it a good idea?
It’s never a good idea to buy shoes which are too big, as this can cause foot damage or accidents such as trips. Growing room is always built into children’s shoes and Brantano fitters will always recommend the best fit that includes growing room, so there is no need to buy bigger sizes.
We will be walking to nursery throughout the year and I’m looking for a pair of shoes for heavy rain, potential snow and ice. What should I be looking for to know his feet and ankles will be protected as much as possible?
As we approach autumn and winter Brantano will stock a range of shoes and boots suitable for little feet in the cold and wet weather. As with shoes, our expert fitters will measure and fit boots making sure they are a comfortable fit for your child. For very snowy days, we would recommend a snow boot (for warmth) and for rainy days, we would recommend a leather boot that has been protected (such as Clarks’ Crazy Dig or Diggy Guy, with a padded collar and flexible sole).
Why should we shop with Brantano?
Brantano stocks many brands and styles to suit many budgets and our expert fitters are always on hand to offer advice on the best styles for your child’s feet. Our fitting service is free and you can pop in as many times as you like for a free fit check with no obligation to buy. We take pride in our measure and fit service and work closely with all our fitted brands, such as Clarks and Startrite, in order to make sure we offer the best service possible for our customers.
Disclosure: We were gifted a pair of shoes for each of the boys in return for this honest review of Brantano’s free shoe fitting service. All thoughts and words are my own.