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4 ways to make sure your child’s shoes fit.

Fall represents one of the peak times for children’s shoe shopping.

Parents need to keep in mind these tips from podiatrist Dr. Richard Stanley and the American Podiatric Medical Association as they peruse the shoe aisle for the young feet in the family:

  1. Buy for fit, not size: Don’t assume that because your child has grown out of one size that he or she needs the next size in the new pair of shoes, Stanley says.

“The biggest mistake I see people make is buying a size instead of fit,” he said, adding that sizing may vary from brand to brand or even within a brand.

So, make sure your child tries on both shoes, and that the shoes fit both feet. If one foot is larger than the other, as is frequently the case, make sure that the shoes fit both feet.

If you have to use a shoehorn, it’s probably too tight, Stanley said.

  1. Make sure the shoes are flexible: Shoes should bend with a child’s toes. Also, grab the shoes from both ends and try to bend them. If a shoe bends in the middle or if you can twist it around, there’s not enough support.

Also try the heel, Stanley said. If you can press it down easily, it does not offer enough support.

  1. Don’t buy shoes that are too stiff or too big.

“Kids’ feet are really flexible,” Stanley said, “and you don’t want to have a shoe that’s going to mold the foot.”

Nor do you want a shoe that’s too big. Loose shoes may slide up and down, causing blisters. If you can put your finger down the back of the heel, the shoe is too big, he said.

  1. Avoid shoes that pinch the toes: “If you can kill a cockroach in a corner with a toe, you don’t want to be in it,” Stanley cautions. This holds for pointy-toed shoes for women as well as cowboy boots.