A toddler is a child between 1-3 years of age. When toddlers learn to walk, there is no stopping them. They want to explore everything around them. The cute pair of shoes you bought a month ago may not fit your toddler anymore.
Finding the right size of shoes for your toddler can be a challenging task. They grow up really fast and it can be hard for parents to find the right fit.
To find out your toddler’s shoe size, first, measure your toddler’s feet to get an estimated shoe size and use a shoe chart to find the correct size. You should always leave some room around the toe area to let your child wriggle their toes and grow.
Every child is different, and hence a parent can best estimate the correct size for their child’s feet. Don’t always rely on shoe sizes as they can vary from company to company.
Learn about how your toddler’s feet grow and then trying shoes on in person at a store can help save time. The best process is to measure a child’s feet often to understand the growth process as it will help you pick the right sizes better.
Learn how your toddler’s feet grow
Children have soft feet because the bones are not formed properly. Over time, as the feet grow slowly, they develop a bone structure just like an adult.
As babies, 0-2 months age, the foot will grow about 2 cm a year. The growth slows a little bit between the ages 2-5 months i.e. 1.5 cm a year. And between 6-11 months, your child’s feet will grow about 1 cm a year.
As toddlers, between the ages of 1-3 years old, their feet can grow “as much as 1.5mm in length each month (about 18mm or 3/4 inch per year)” (softstarshoes.com)
Because toddler’s feet grow fast, it is recommended to measure their feet at least once every three months.
Measure Toddler’s feet
It is always a safe bet to measure your toddler’s foot to get the correct size. Here are some steps you can follow to measure your child’s feet.
Step 1: Take a piece of paper and place your toddler’s foot on it.
Step 2: Draw along the circumference of the feet to trace the outline.
Step 3: Now using a ruler, measure the length and heel.
Another way is to make your child stand against a wall and use a measuring tape to measure from the heel to the longest toe.
Remember that the outside of the shoe is not similar to the inside as the type of material and stitching can define the measurements. To get the right idea of the size of the shoe, take out the insole from the foot and put your child’s foot on it.
The foot should rest within the borders of the sole. There should be at least a thumb width of space in the front if the heel is lined up on the back edge.
You can also measure the insole to get an idea of the length and width of your child’s feet.
Sometimes the size on the box may not be the right size for your child. Every child has different feet. Some brands may size their shoes differently.
Your toddler may have wide or thin feet, so it’s best to go with an estimate you think might be a good fit for your toddler. Put on different types of shoes to get a good feel for the shoes you’re interested in.
If you’re at the store you can approximate the measurement of your toddler’s foot. It may not be exact but that’s ok. You can try on shoes and go with the next biggest shoe size if the shoe is too tight.
If you’re at home you can take a measurement of their feet. Once you have the measurements, use the chart below to find the approximate shoe size for your toddler.
Each child is different, so their foot size will vary greatly. Although looking at this age chart can help you some, it’s best to measure if you can.
There are several apps that you can try for your phone. I didn’t find one that I liked for measuring toddler’s feet. Some want you to buy shoes after you measure. There should be more apps coming out soon.
Leave Room to Wiggle and Grow
When buying a pair of shoes for your toddler, leave room for them to grow. Up the size by half an inch or a full inch. The shoes must not obstruct the growth of your toddler’s feet, so always buy shoes that have a thumb width of space at the toes.
Shoes that are small on your toddler’s feet can cause toe deformity and damage to the skeleton system of the foot.
Soft Sole vs. Hard Sole
Some parents prefer soft-soled shoes for their toddlers while others prefer hard soles. Each has its own reasons. You know your child’s feet best, so you can decide what works best for them.
Those in favor of soft soles argue that because hard shoes have strong and hard structures, they can impede the development of a child’s muscle and foot growth.
They also believe that soft soles allow a child to feel the floor that helps develop balance, strength, and coordination in a child.
Supporters of hard sole argue that the hard structure helps keep a child’s feet safe from sharp objects. The strong structure also helps with the growth and prevents various foot problems such as deformity of feet.
Some shoe companies also develop hybrid styles that accommodate the softness and hardness together which can also be a good option for some parents.
Tips When Buying Toddler Shoes
Here are some tips that can help you make the right choice for your child’s feet and their development.
Choose shoes made with breathable fabric. Also, go for lightweight material as it will help your child walk easily without pressure.
Place your pinky finger between the back and heel of your child’s shoe. It shouldn’t feel tight. If your finger doesn’t have any room, the shoe is too tight for your child.
When trying on shoes, put them on your toddler and ask them to walk around the shop. Find out if they feel comfortable walking in them or if they are too tight or loose?
Don’t force your child to wear a shoe only because you like it. Maybe it’s too uncomfortable for them. Always put your child’s comfort first when deciding what shoes to buy.
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