How to Measure, Fit & Buy Ballet Shoes for Toddlers & Kids: Complete Guide

If you haven’t danced before or have never had other children in lessons, buying your child their first pair of ballet shoes might seem a little daunting especially with the amount of choice there is out there. This complete guide will help both the new and experienced dance parent measure, fit and buy ballet shoes for their toddler or kid.

To buy ballet shoes for a toddler or kid you need to know which material to buy, which color you need, how to measure your child’s feet properly, whether you need a full or split sole shoe, if you need ribbons, elastic or both and how to check that they fit properly once they are on.

As well as the above factors, there are six main ways to buy or obtain ballet shoes today that this article will also cover:

  • Buying from a dancewear store
  • Buying from your dance school or teacher
  • Buying from a department store
  • Buying a pair online
  • Buying second hand or using hand me downs
  • Make your own

But first, we will cover some nagging questions you might have about why your child needs ballet shoes.

Why do dancers wear Ballet shoes? Why can’t my kid just wear their socks or bare feet?

I am going to start by answering the second question first here. Ballet dancers even little ones do not wear only socks because they have little grip and the dancer will slip and slide and this can cause injury. Ballet dancers also do not dance in bare feet as this will generally create too much friction. The feet can get stuck when they are meant to be gliding and again this can cause injury to the dancer. Ballet shoes provide grip on the soles and a smoother surface around the tips and tops of the toes to provide the gliding movement needed when dancing.

Is There a Difference Between Boys and Girls Ballet Shoes?

Yes and No. Boys’ feet are generally wider than girls, and as they mature will be longer. Boys and men mainly wear black or white ballet shoes and so some ballet shoemakers do especially make shoes to accommodate these differences. But generally, there is not a lot of difference when they are children and especially not so much with the introduction of offering the same sized shoe in different widths. Therefore this fitting guide is relevant to both boys and girls the main difference being that boys’ shoes will not need ribbons and will need to be bought in either black or white depending on the preference of the studio you attend.

What should my child wear with their Ballet shoes? Socks or tights?

Generally, young boys will wear thin white ankle socks with their ballet shoes under a pair of black leggings or with a pair of shorts. Girls can either wear thin white ankle socks with bare legs and a leotard or will wear ballet tights instead. Usually, your dance studio will advise you on what they want your child to wear.

What Are All of the Parts of Ballet Shoes?

To make sure you know what I am talking about as we delve into how to fit and measure a kid or toddler for a ballet shoe it’s important to know some of the jargon and names for the different parts of the shoe. Here is a list of what they all mean:

Finally an description of a flat ballet shoe - I always wondered what the name was of that section in the middle of a split sole shoe - Great article as well How to Measure, Fit & Buy Ballet Shoes for Toddlers & Kids: Complete Guide
  • Drawstring: This comes out of a small hole at the top of the throat of the ballet shoe and helps to tighten ballet shoes on the foot.
  • Binding: Where the drawstring goes through around the throat of the shoe.
  • Sole: The bottom of the shoe is usually made from a thin leather such as suede. When you are just starting out, dancers will generally wear a full sole for support and resistance, but as your child advances, they will be fine to wear a split sole (take a look at the photo of my girl’s ballet shoes and my old pointe shoes further on for the difference).
  • Throat or Opening: This is the part where you insert your foot; it is the opening to the shoe.
  • Insole: This is the material used for the instep of the shoe.
  • Pleats: These are the folds of the leather under the toes of the ballet shoe.
  • Arch Panel: The panel of leather or canvas that covers the arch between the ball and heel in split sole shoes.
  • Sides and Top: Simply the sides and top of the ballet shoe.
  • Quarters: If you spit a shoe into four parts straight down the middle and across, the back two parts are your quarters.
  • Back Seam: A ballet shoe will generally have a back seam which is reinforced with another piece of rectangular material over it for strength.
  • Elastics: 14-15mm wide elastics in the same color as a dancer’s tights or skin tone are a simple and easy way of ensuring ballet shoes stay on when dancing. Some dancers like having two elastics that crisscross or just one that is securely sewn into each side of the shoe above the instep to keep the shoe on when dancing.
  • Ribbons: Traditionally ribbons are used to secure ballet shoes to the feet and are often worn for exams and performances. They are attached to the shoe between the crisscross elastics or in the same place as the single elastic. You can wear ribbons with elastics or without. The ribbons are then wrapped around the ankle and tied to keep the shoe in place.

What Do They Make Ballet Shoes Out Of?

Ballet shoes are made of three main materials leather, canvas, or satin.

Leather

Leather is the most popular material for ballet shoes to be made from as it is durable. It is generally thought that as leather is sturdier than satin or canvas that the support it gives young feet helps to strengthen and develop the correct technique. Leather ballet shoes are more expensive than canvas ones, but last longer. Leather shoes are not as easy to clean either but can be painted with flexible leather paint which generally hides any ingrained dirt from studio floors. Leather ballet shoes will also tend to stretch and mold to a dancers foot when warm and worn alot. You might find if worn on the same feet all the time small indents will be seen where the big toe presses against the leather from pointing. Leather ballet shoes are worn with both ribbons or elastics.

Canvas

Canvas ballet shoes are made from a woven material and are not as durable as leather and tend to get holes around the toes more easily. They are however easier to clean and can be put in the washing machine on a gentle wash or hand washed. They are less expensive initially but as you might have to buy several pairs the cost may be similar to owning one pair of leather shoes. As an advanced dancer in full-time training, I loved my comfortable canvas ballet shoes as they were much more malleable and generally made my feet look better. Today companies such as MDM are making more durable canvas ballet shoes with special inner soles to help support even the youngest of feet. Canvas ballet shoes are generally worn with elastics and not ribbons. Canvas ballet shoes can be bought in various colors or can be dyed if need to match the color of a costume.

Satin

Satin tends to get dirty very quickly and are generally worn for photos or performances because they look pretty and shiny. It is also more common for satin to be used in demi-pointe and pointe shoes rather than flat ballet shoes. Satin shoes can be worn with elastics but look nicer with ribbons and can be bought in various colors. Some people use permanent markers to change the color of satin shoes if needed although you have to be careful that the ink does not run onto your tights when wearing them.

What material should I buy for my toddler or child?

Speak with your dance teacher as to which type of material they would prefer. At my daughter’s first school, we bought our shoes from the teacher (who ordered them from China) and they were canvas split soles. My daughter was four and just starting ballet, now her sister who is four wears them every now and then to class. At their current school, it is preferable to have leather shoes as this is what is needed for performances. Our teacher has also recently begun stocking up on MDM ballet shoes because of the extra support they offer for dancers’ feet.

If you have a choice and are able to afford them, I would advise you to buy leather ballet shoes. They will generally last you if not one but maybe even two whole years of classes, and you will probably only have to get a new pair when your child’s foot grows out of them.

Should I buy split sole or full sole ballet shoes for a child or a toddler?

There is an ongoing theory amongst ballet teachers that young students and those new to ballet should begin with full soled shoes as this gives the dancer more support and creates more resistance on the floor which helps to strengthen the muscles of the foot. But with technological advances, many new split-sole ballet shoes such as the range by MDM have strong supportive innersoles that provide the same resistance and support. Therefore it will depend on the brand and type of shoe you buy.

How Will I know Which Size Ballet Shoe to Buy For My Child or Toddler?

You will need to measure your child’s foot to work out which size ballet shoe to buy for them. You can do this at home by measuring the length of their foot and the width at the widest point.

You should make sure your child is standing and keep an eye on their toes, as toddlers and younger children tend to curl their toes under which will give you an incorrect measurement.

There are several fun ways you can try to measure your child’s feet.

  1. FOOT PRINT METHOD
    What toddler or kid doesn’t love painting? Get a paintbrush and cover the sole of their feet in paint and then let them walk along a piece of paper you have rolled out. Take this away to dry and put down more for them to just have fun with. When the original is dry, take a ruler and measure both the length of their foot and the width at the widest part of the foot. This will give you your measurements that you can match up with the shoe suppliers sizing guide.
  2. TRACING METHOD
    Trace around you childs foot on some paper. You might want to stick it to a stable surface so it doesn’t move – the paper that is, not your child. Measure the outline as explained above. You might want to trace around their feet a couple more times and give your child some pencils to color them in or let them trace around your feet too, to make it an enjoyable experience and not another task you need to get done.
  3. JUST MEASURE THEIR FOOT
    Take a tape measure and measure the length of their foot and the width. This is easier said then done and can lead to a faulty measurement being recorded if they twitch and wiggle too much because they are ticklish, which is why I have given you other suggestions.

If you have any of your own tricks, let us know about them in the comments below and I’ll add the best to the list here with your name!

Should I Buy The Next Size Up?

This is going to depend greatly on the price of the shoe, if you are buying online and your budget. I was surprised at how cheap you can buy children’s ballet shoes online and you can see my top picks on our resource page here. If you buy online I would definitely buy true to size so you don’t have any problems with them and also if you buy a pair for $15 or less you will hopefully be able to afford to buy a new pair if your child has a growth spurt. But what if the shoes you intend to buy costs you three times that amount well….

IT IS FINE TO ORDER THE NEXT SIZE OR HALF SIZE UP especially if you are being fitted for the shoe and can see in person that the shoe still fits your child well!!! Kids’ feet are constantly growing and if you want to get decent use from the shoe, this will be the key to doing so. When your kid gets older and the reason you need to buy new pairs is because they are wearing them out, rather than growing out of them, then is the time to buy a pair that fits like a glove. For now, as long as the shoes do not fall off and do not pose a threat in causing them to trip, buying slightly bigger should be fine.

In saying this, don’t go more than one size up! Or if your child’s measurements only just meet the requirements of a size then order those, for example, the size is between 10-12cm and your child’s foot 9.5 or 10cm long, choose that size.

Such a great article - I wish I had this before I bought my kids their ballet shoes!!!! How to Measure, Fit & Buy Ballet Shoes for Toddlers & Kids: Complete Guide

Be aware that ballet shoes that are too big can cause your child to trip. You use the drawstring to tighten the throat of the shoe around your child’s foot, but if they are too big the shoes will just scrunch up and leave empty space between the end of the shoe and your child’s toes and it is this extra piece of material that will cause them to fall over. Also if they are too big, no amount of pulling on the drawstring will make them fit properly.

How Should Ballet Shoes Fit on a Toddler or Kid?

A ballet shoe on an adult should fit as snuggly as a sock. It needs to be form fitting and mold to the foot like a glove. You can choose to buy your child’s shoe based on this type of fit as well, but for many parents if their kid is only doing one or two classes a week, it doesn’t make sense to them both financially and even being environmentally aware knowing that in 6 months or less a new pair will need to be bought.

Therefore for a child, a ballet shoe should be snugger then their normal shoes, but not as tight as a sock. Somewhere inbetween the two is perfect. If the ballet shoes are too tight a child will claw their toes and this can lead to the bad habit of doing this when pointing their toes or trying to balance. If the shoes are too big they will fall off or cause them to trip as mentioned earlier. I have seen kids kick their shoe to the other side of the room during exercises in dance class because their shoes were too big and slipped off. Don’t let this be your kid!

How to know you have the right fit?

The following are a few things to look at when the ballet shoes are on your child’s feet. Begin by making sure their foot is flat on the floor:

  • Are their toes flat and not scrunched up?
  • Can they wiggle their toes comfortably?
  • Is the width of the shoe ok? Are your child’s toes flat on the floor as if they were barefoot? The width is wrong for your child if the shoe is too tight across the toes causing them to be squashed together uncomfortably?
  • Opposingly can you fit a finger in between the shoe and one or both sides of your child’s foot easily? THis will mean the shoe is too wide.
  • Do the quarters fit nicely around the heel with the drawstring pulled at a comfortable tension for your child?
  • You should not have to pull the drawstring so tight that the shoe puckers when on or leaves marks on your child’s foot. If it is too tight it can literally cut into the back of your child’s Achilles tendon and can really hurt your child.
  • There should not be a large gap in between the back seam and your child’s heel or Achilles tendon.

When pulling on the drawstring to tighten the ballet shoes, the shoes should not look all puckered up like a shower cap or those shoe protectors doctors and nurses wear. They should be nice and smooth. Nor should you be able to see the outline of each of your child’s toes, or a mark left by the drawstring and binding. This means the shoe is too small and tight.

Most dance shoes can come in all different widths, including wide, narrow, or medium. However, not all manufacturers will do this, so you need to watch for ones that do if the width is an issue.

Do Toddler and Kid Ballet Shoes Need Ribbons or Elastics?

Most toddlers and children’s ballet shoes will come with a single or crisscrossed double elastic. Elastic is much easier to deal with when putting a toddler’s ballet shoes and most teachers and studios are happy to forgo ribbons in the early years. My daughter who is four asked me to put ribbons on her shoes. I added them to a pair of hand me downs as her regular ballet shoes need only elastics for her recital and although being in preschool ballet she is not required to wear them, she loves them and sits patiently waiting for me to finish tieing them up. Therefore whether your child’s shoes have elastics or ribbons will generally come down to your studio’s preference or how the shoes came to you with elastics if bought from a store or maybe with ribbons if from a previous owner.

Which is better for a toddler or kid? Single or Crisscrossed Double Elastics on Flat ballet shoes?

Some shoes are sold with a single elastic and others are sold with crisscrossing double elastics. Why and which one is best?

The trend to crisscross elastics originally began on pointe shoes before moving onto flat ballet shoes. One of the reasons for doing it was to stop the foot from sliding in the shoe and to stop the heel of the shoe from slipping off which can sometimes happen with pointe shoes. What people began to notice is that the placement of the crisscrossing elastic really picks up the arch of the shoe, so it hugs the foot showing off the dancers arch in the best possible way and so dancers began doing the same with their flats. Many dancers do not crisscross because it is more time consuming to sew and work out the proper placement and a single elastic is quicker to put on and generally gets the job done. For a toddler or child either is fine and should not really affect your choice of shoe, unless your teacher or studio has a preference for one over the other. If the shoe does not come with elastics I would advise to just sew on a single one as it is much easier to do.

7 Things to Consider Before Purchasing Ballet Shoes for a Toddler or Kid

The following are some reminders and extra information to help you get the right fit and pair of ballet shoes for your child.

Fit

There are many different brands of ballet shoes out there for you to try and buy and each manufacturer has its own special design, cut and fit. Some make wider shoes, others make thinner. Some make shoes that come in for example size 1A, 1B and 1C with the letter representing a different width. If buying online research the brand and reviews to find out information about the fit of their shoe and if it will be suitable for the foot shape of your child.

Size

Unfortunately, as we mentioned in FIT, every brand of ballet shoe will fit slightly differently and this will also affect the size of the shoe you get. For example, your child might be a size 5 in one brand but a size 6 in another.

This is why you should go to a dancewear store and ask more questions there. Your child can try on different brands of shoes until you find the right fit. Also note that some stores only stock certain brands as they have affiliations with them or are a flagship store for a brand, so don’t feel bad about not buying anything in the first store you go to. Try at another if you need to, but maybe call first to see what brands they sell and if they have them in your child’s size so you don’t waste your time on a trip that could be avoided.

Another resource will be your dance teacher as they will have many years of experience fitting themselves as well as their students for shoes.

Shoe Type

Will you decide to buy full sole or split sole shoes for your child? Or will you look into a brand such as MDM that provide a supportive inner sole for the shoe?

Remember, it is recommended that new dancers wear leather shoes as they are more supportive of the foot and add more resistance for strengthening the muscles of the feet, but at the end of the day this is not gospel and there is no scientific proof, it is just what some teacher prefer. As I said I have been to two different schools with differing views over the matter and I am not sure that the fact that my daughter when four wore canvas split sole ballet shoes affected her dancing development in any way, but it might for some.

Color

Generally, you will be buying ballet pink shoes for girls, although some schools prefer they wear white. For boys, you will be buying either black or white ballet shoes. Make sure you have asked your teacher for this information before purchasing the red pair because they are so pretty and just make your kid want to dance and dance and dance all day.

Material

So will it be canvas, leather or satin? For a young dancer, the real choice is between the canvas and leather and what you can afford or what your dance school prefers. So think about those factors before making your purchase.

Elastics and Ribbons

Many ballet shoes come with an elastic already attached. Some come with only one side sewn in so you can sew the other side depending on the top arch of your child’s foot. Other shoes come with double crisscrossing elastic that needs to be sewn on one side. If you really don’t want to have to do any sewing than your choice could come down to the fact that one pair has the elastics pre-sewn, whereas another does not.

You will need to however purchase and sew on ribbons separately.

Price

How much will a pair of ballet shoes cost you? Luckily ballet shoes tend to be the least expensive when it comes to dancing shoes in general. Jazz and tap shoes can cost a little bit more. The material the shoe is made from will determine largely the price of the shoes although if you buy the latest most technologically advanced shoes this will increase the price you pay a little more.

But you need to keep in mind, that the cheaper the ballet shoes are, the less quality you will receive in return. Poorly made shoes will end up distracting your child and worse may fall apart. The shoes need to support your child not distract them during class.

Overall though you will be looking at anything between $15-$40 for a pair of ballet shoes taking into consideration all the factors discussed here.

How to Buy Ballet Shoes?

There are six main ways you can buy or get ballet shoes for your child and I will go over, how to buy from each and the pros and cons in the following section:

1 Buying Ballet Shoes From a Dancewear Store

The first step in buying from a dancewear store is finding one. You might search online, ask at your dance school or look in a dance magazine for stores. Before going it might be best to call and check that they have a good range of ballet shoes in stock in the size you will need for your child and that they have several brands for your child to try on. You might also want to ask when the best time to come in is so that you know you won’t have to wait to be served. A good fitting will include the salesperson measuring your child’s feet both for length and width and choosing styles of shoe based on this. Make sure you let them know of any requirements from your studio such as color or sole type or your preference for the material. Make sure you know their return policy in case you need to return or exchange the shoes for any reason.

PROS
Your child will be fitted by someone who has the expertise and experience of fitting children with ballet shoes everyday.
You will be able to try on different styles, materials and sizes to get the perfect fit for your child.
Physically putting the shoes on your child will let you see how the shoe fits.
You get the chance to ask the sales person about the process of fitting ballet shoes so you have more experience for next time.
The shoes are easier to return or exchange before they are worn if there is a problem.
CONS
Flagship stores will only sell their own brand shoes and these may not be the best fit for your child or be out of your price range.
Most dance wear suppliers only have products from a select few suppliers or only have certain stock in your kids size and these may not be the best fit for your child or be out of your price range.
Some stores or sales clerks will be under orders to promote or get rid of certain styles, brands and shoes or get a better commission for selling certain brands and might push these on you.
You often walk in the door intending to just buy a pair of ballet shoes and walk out with tights, leg warmers, a bun kit, warm up booties and

2 Buying Ballet Shoes From Your Dance School Teacher

When buying shoes from your dance school my best advice from two failed experiences is to set up your fitting appointment as early as you can before your child’s next class. This is in case the limited amount of shoes they have in stock does not fit your child and you are not forced to buy them because you promised your child a pair of ballet shoes before their next class which is starting in 10mins. Yes, two times I have done this and two times I was burned. Don’t get me wrong, the teachers never put any expectations on me to buy at all. They were happy for my daughter to dance in socks until I was able to get a pair elsewhere or the order came for the size in a better fit. But I succumb to the antagonizing ‘but you promised me look’ from my daughter!!!!

Generally, your teacher will buy from one supplier and in bulk. Our first teacher would buy in bulk from a manufacturer in China. My now four-year-old is still wearing the shoes my nine-year-old had when she was four so they were good quality, but I can remember they were a little too big in width, but the brand the teacher bulk bought didn’t make the shoes in different widths and as the lesson was about to begin and I had promised her ballet shoes, I purchased them. This time around with my 9-year old I bought a size too big again because our teacher didn’t have a size smaller in stock. As the class was that day and we live in a small town with the nearest dance store over an hour away and ordering in shoes was going to take a few weeks I purchased what she had. This is not going to be everyone’s experience, but try and make your appointment for your shoe fitting with your teacher a few days before the next class so if you do need to try a dancewear store you will have the time to do so!

PROS
They will be the right style, color, and type for your studio.
Your child will be fitted by someone who has the expertise and experience of fitting children with ballet shoes.
You will be able to try on different sizes to get the best fit for your child.
Physically putting the shoes on your child will let you see how the shoe fits.
You get the chance to ask your teacher all about the process of fitting ballet shoes so you have more experience for next time.
CONS
Dance Studios and teachers tend to buy in bulk only one brand of shoe from one manufacturer as this allows them to offer this service to you in a cost-effective way.
They may have limited sizes and widths available as they are not a store – and you might have to wait for them to order in shoes your childs size.
If they don’t have the size you need, but your child needs the shoes immediately you may have to just get what they have at the time, meaning you might have to buy another pair sooner rather than later.
You and your teacher might disagree on the best fit, creating conflict between you.

3 Buying Ballet Shoes From A Department Store

Target, Walmart, Costco, TJMaxx and Kmart all sell ballet shoes for kids, but the problem with these is that they are generic and made to fit the most common feet sizes, made in regular shoe sizes, so they appeal to the most people. They are generally not made by a company with alot of expertise in making ballet shoes. An example of what I mean is the brand Danskin. On their flagship website they don’t even sell dance shoes, they sell dancewear, but they are the brand behind many toddler and kids ballet shoes in department stores. As a prior dancer and dance teacher, I would advise if your child is serious about dancing to skip the department store and buy your shoes from the other sources written about here. In saying that, these shoes are perfect to go with a Halloween or book week costume where your child will wear them out on the pavement rather than be used in an actual dance class.

PROS
Convenient
Reasonably priced
Easy to return even sometimes if used.
Large range of sizes and stock
Sturdy and good for play and outdoors
CONS
Generic and mass-produced
Can be stiff and not as flexible as shoes from dancewear stores
Not as much choice between sole types and material
Not always the right shade – too pink

4 Buying a Pair of Ballet Shoes Online

To buy a pair of ballet shoes online you have several choices in the way you do this. You might have been recommended a certain brand or have read many reviews about them and so if you go straight to the brand’s flagship website you should be able to buy a pair online from them directly.

Another way of buying ballet shoes is through a third party website such as Amazon or eBay. The great thing about these sites is that you get to read reviews by purchasers of the shoes which will help you decide which ones to buy. As I am thinking of buying some ballet shoes for my daughters online I have already done this and so you might want to have a look at our resource page with my top online pick from Amazon. Buying from an online business means the manufacturer can relay the discount of being an online business to you in the low cost of their shoes.

PROS
Convenient
Reasonably priced
Can buy without leaving your house
Large range of sizes and stock
Simple to reorder once you find a great fit, seller, and brand
CONS
You are not able to try them on before purchasing
Returning shoes can be a headache
Color may differ from what you saw on your screen
Sizing might differ when received to what was advertised
Have to wait for shoes to be delivered or posted
Not always the right shade – too pink

5 Buying Second Hand or Using Hand Me Down Ballet Shoes

There are several ways to get your hands on some second-hand shoes. The first way is to ask your teacher if they know of any parents selling them. They might send you to a facebook page set up specifically for the purpose or have a storage bin in the studio that you can go through and give the money to the teacher who passes it on to the original owner. Some sites such as CraigsList or Gumtree are also good places to search for second-hand shoes. You can use our fitting guides from earlier in the article to make sure they fit your child properly before agreeing to the purchase.

Hand me downs are great too. Let family members and friends know that you are on the lookout for shoes. My sister regularly gives me all of my niece’s preloved leotards and shoes if they are still in good condition. Even if they don’t fit perfectly they make a great back up for if things go wrong before a recital or exam for example.

PROS
Most brands have online stores you can buy from
Convenient
Access to a different range of manufacturers from different countries on sites such as Amazon and eBay.
Can buy without leaving your house
Large range of sizes and stock
Simple to reorder once you find a great fit, seller, and brand
CONS
You are not able to try them on before purchasing
Returning shoes can be a headache
Color may differ from what you saw on your screen
Sizing might differ when received to what was advertised
Have to wait for shoes to be delivered or posted
Not always the right shade – too pink
Postage Costs

6 Make your own

Now it was only through all my research for this article that I came across instructions on how to make your own ballet shoes. Now it is something I would not attempt as I believe truthfully the outlay and time it would take is not worth my money but for some, the idea that they could make their own might spark something within them or they know a friend or family member who has the equipment or who makes shoes and so although this is not an option most of us will take – it is still an option.

PROS
Can find instructions online
Can custom make for your childs foot
Once you have the skill, materials, and tools it can be cost-efficient.
CONS
Time Consuming
You need to have the skills to make them
You need specific tools
Need to buy the materials seperately which can be costly if making only a single pair

Which Brand Of Ballet Shoes Is Best To Buy?

At the end of the day, the best brand of ballet shoes will be the ones that best fit your child. But that isn’t very helpful to you, is it? There are lots of brands of shoes out there that you can buy and so choosing can get quite confusing, especially if you start looking online. There are some really cheap shoes out there, but many find that after a few wears they start to fall apart and so having a bit of an idea of quality brands before you buy is always helpful.

Some top brands found in most dance stores are:

Capezio, Bloch, Grishko, Freed of London, Sansha, Wear Moi, and MDM

All of these companies have been around for a while and take pride in their product.

Should I Purchase My Toddler or Kids First Ballet Shoes Online?

It is always a nice experience to go into an actual store to get your kid’s first pair of ballet shoes personally fitted. And although this guide is very thorough, nothing helps teach a person better than experience, but at the same time, there is nothing wrong with ordering online especially for a young kid. Out of convenience, I bought my girl’s shoes from their teacher, but I have been looking on Amazon because of the prices available there and I found one brand that I felt I would be comfortable buying which you can look at on our resource page here.

Going into a store will ensure you get the best fit and can create a lovely memory for your child. If you choose to go into a store, when you go in take the opportunity to ask the shop assistant as many questions about the fitting as possible.

  • Do they think your child has a wide or narrow foot?
  • Which brand of shoe do they think will best fit your child’s foot?
  • What is the sizing like for this brand? Do they go up in half sizes full sizes? (So you get an idea of what to purchase for your next pair)
  • Do they sell matching paint for touch-ups?
  • Do the shoes come with elastics or ribbons?
  • Where do you need to sew on the ribbons or elastics?

Once you have your first pair, if you stick with that brand when your child needs a new pair you can get the next size up. Alternatively, if you didn’t like that brand, they were too expensive, the color wasn’t quite right or your child is going into split soles or canvas next time you can use all the information from this guide and from your first fitting experience to buy online.

RELATED INFORMATION

A short history of how ballet shoes were invented

Ballet was originally imported to France around the 16th and 17th centuries from the royal courts of Italy where mainly men danced in heels. Court shoes were made with leather soles, and pieces of leather cut, glued and stacked together to make the heel which was then either covered with leather or quality silk.

Women slowly became more prominent in ballet and in the mid 18th century Marie Camargo is said to be the first ballet dancer to have eliminated the leather heel from her shoes. She needed the freedom flat shoes provided to perform with speed and agility, the jumps and fast footwork she was famous for. During the 19th century, Marie Taglioni who famously danced en pointe in La Sylphide would wear satin slippers with a leather sole. But it wasn’t until the time of Russian Ballerina Ana Pavlova that flat ballet shoes were turned into pointe shoes as we know them today. Pavlova added inserts to her slippers to create a box shape and more support when dancing en pointe. During the 20th century, ballet shoes underwent another innovation with the creation of the split sole. A split sole is the name given to shoes that have a leather pad on the heel and ball of the foot, and are joined by the more malleable material of the shoe in the middle allowing the dancer even more freedom and the ability to fully show off the arch of their foot.

Today companies such as Capezio, Bloch, Grishko, Freed of London, Sansha and new kid on the block MDM still create ballet shoes based on the original style of ballet slippers worn during the 19th century only with the latest technology, design and materials to enhance the performance of the dancer. Some brands are even bringing out Vegan shoes for those who don’t want leather used in their shoes!

How to measure, fit and buy ballet shoes for toddlers & kids. This is the ultimate guide with everything you need to know from the types of material ballet shoes come in, how to measure your child's foot and the different ways you can purchase ballet shoes! #balletshoes #ballet #dance #danceshoes
How to measure, fit and buy ballet shoes for toddlers & kids. This is an awesome guide with everything you need to know from the types of material ballet shoes come in, how to measure your child's foot and the different ways you can purchase ballet shoes! #balletshoes #ballet #dance #danceshoes
How to measure, fit and buy ballet shoes for toddlers & kids. This is an awesome guide with everything you need to know from the types of material ballet shoes come in, how to measure your child's foot about boys ballet shoes and more! #balletshoes #ballet #dance #danceshoes
How to measure, fit and buy ballet shoes for toddlers & kids. The complete guide with everything you need to know from the types of material ballet shoes come in, how to measure your child's foot about boys ballet shoes and more! #balletshoes #ballet #dance #danceshoes
How to measure, fit and buy ballet shoes for toddlers & kids. You need to read this article it is the complete guide with everything you need to know from the types of material ballet shoes come in, how to measure your child's foot, how to buy them and more! #balletshoes #ballet #dance #danceshoes
About the Author

Samantha Bellerose

Samantha is a wife and mother of four kids aged 1-9. She danced and acted from the age of 5 and performed in film clips, on television, and in musical theatre professionally. She also taught dance, but after leaving the profession to backpack through Europe, Canada and the USA with her husband for three years, she then completed an Education Degree and taught within primary schools in Australia. Today she is a business owner with her husband and the creator and writer for Dance Parent 101 where she hopes her previous experience as a dancer, current experience as a dance parent and the research and writing skills she gained completing her education degree will help enlighten parents on their journey with their child through the world of dance.