It seems like it should be a fairly easy thing, kids’ shoe sizes. And yet their feet grown so damn rapidly, it’s like first they’re a four and then they’re an 8 (how is a toddler a size 8 when I’m a size 8??) and then a 12 and now, wait, a 1.5? What just happened there?
Kids’ shoe sizes don’t correspond to their ages the way kids’ clothing sizes do. Well, except for baby shoes—those are usually listed by age in months. Or they’re listed as sizes 0-4, it really depends on the brand or store you’re shopping in. If they are numbered as 0-4, there may or may not also be half sizes. Toddler shoes are sometimes also listed by months, but typically they’ll start being numbered around the 3.5-4.5 size range, which corresponds with approximately age 1. You with me so far??
It doesn’t help that many of us are stuck at home right now and getting into a store to measure and try on different sizes is less of an option. And yet, all these restorative walks are taking a toll on our kids’ soles. Luckily, there are a few methods for measuring their feet at home if you need to order shoes online; or you could print this foot sizing chart from Famous Footwear. But it still helps to have a general understanding of how the sizes flow.
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Generally speaking, here is how the sizes correspond with age:
Babies and toddlers: 0-10.5
Little kids: 11-3.5
Big kids: 4-7
If you’re confused by the little kids’ range of 11-3.5, that’s because once we hit size 13.5, we start over at 1. It’s fun to start fresh! Once they’ve started over at 1, they’re actually now on the same sizing system as men’s shoes; in other words, a youth 7 is the same size as a men’s 7. Women’s sizes, on the other hand, run about 2(ish) sizes larger. That’s why my son’s size 6 Nike slides fit my size 8 feet (and why he has been instructed to take good care of them).
Other brands may quibble over when baby sizes end and when toddler or walker sizes begin—or which sizes are “big kids” and which are still “little kids.” Eh, there’s no need for consistency here: Once you get past the early month-sizing fun, it’s really best to just focus on the numbers.
Speaking of numbers, of all the sizing charts I studied as I wrote this piece, I like this printable chart from Stride Rite the best because it’s clear and gives measurements in inches and centimeters for both length and width. But if you’re ordering online from another store or brand and they have their own chart, use that instead. You would think sizes would be consistent from one store to the next, but you would be wrong. It’s similar to buying clothes from different brands—a medium in one store may fit like another store’s large.
And when in doubt—if after all your studying and measuring, it seems like your child falls between sizes—always opt for the larger size so they’ve got a little extra wiggle room.
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