How to find the right-sized shoe for your kid

HOUSTON – A new school year means new shoes for many kids, but finding kicks that fit can be a challenge.

Some brands run small while others run big. Don't even try to drop into a store without your child to pick up a pair, even if you know the size they're currently wearing.

One shoe store employee said that if a shoe comes labeled with its centimeters, you should use that as a guide because centimeters, unlike sizes, don't vary. 

The test

We assembled 20 pairs of shoes and six pairs of little feet to try to fit into them. We checked each shoe and discovered only seven had the centimeters on the label.

One Polo boat shoe labeled 22.7 centimeters turned out to be too small for 9-year-old Ethan Jung's feet, while a Nike labeled 22.5 centimeters fit him just fine.

Unfortunately, the method of buying shoes using centimeters instead of sizes as a guide failed our test.

Here are some other shoe-buying strategies that may work better.

Buy multiple pairs, return ones that don't fit

One way to ensure you get the right pair for your child's feet is to buy multiple pairs of the same shoe online and then return the ones that don't fit.

Some retailers make this method very easy. 

Nike offers free shipping and free returns when you sign up for their free Nike Plus program.

Online shoe retailer Zappos lets you buy two sizes and then return the one that does not fit.

Understand kids' shoe sizes

Toddlers' sizes run from 0-13. These shoes are sometimes marked with "T" for toddler up to size 7.

Sizes 8-13 are typically marked with "kids." Bigger kids' shoes run from size 1 to size 7. 

You can get more information about the sizes here.

Go shoe shopping in the afternoon

Feet swell during the day. A shoe that fits your child in the morning may feel snug by the end of the day.

Buy a shoe sizer online

Do the sizing yourself at home by buying a sizer online. We found several on Amazon for as little as $15.