Posted by Becca Luna | Feb 19, 2022 | |
Running, jumping, skipping, playing – kids do it all in sneakers. They’re the shoes your kids will probably spend the most time in, so it’s important they fit well. But it can be hard to keep up with your kids’ feet when they’re growing like weeds. (In fact, you’re probably saying to yourself right now, “Didn’t I just buy new sneakers last month?!”) Our kids shoe size chart, specially designed for shopping for sneakers, can help you stay a step ahead of your kids’ changing needs for sneakers – and any other types of shoes.
It’s especially important to ensure your child’s shoe size is correct when you’re shopping online. Who has time to make returns and wait around for new shoes to arrive? And our downloadable shoe size guide can easily be printed out over and over as needed (in fact, you might want to bookmark this page for future reference).
There are many kinds of sneakers out there, too, so we’ve included some helpful sizing tips. We take a close look at kids’ shoe sizes, shapes and features to provide helpful tips for a proper fit, so your kids can do what they do best – run around and play in them.
Download the kids shoe size chart
In this guide
- Why the Right Size Shoe Matters
- How Often To Check Shoe Sizes
- How To Measure Kids’ Feet for Sneakers
- Sizing Tips
- Understanding Kids’ Shoe Sizing
- What To Do When Kids Are Between Sizes
- What To Consider When Shopping Online
- How To Check the Fit of New Shoes
- How Sneakers Are Supposed to Fit
Why The Right Sneaker Size Matters
Kids’ feet aren’t fully developed until they’re about 13 to 18 years old, and most big changes in growth happen within the first six years of their lives – though anyone who has a teenager knows that a growth spurt can happen in their tweens and teens, too.
Making the effort to get a good fit for their shoes is vital for your kid’s foot development and health – and for their entire body as they grow into adulthood. (If you think your child may need special assessment for any foot or toe issues, you might consider setting up an appointment with a podiatrist or chiropractor who can both support optimal foot care and offer suggestions about shoe fit and structure.)
The sooner any issue is identified, however minor, the easier it will be to manage. Keep an eye out for the following indicators:
Signs your kids’ sneakers are too small or narrow:
- They have chafing, blisters, calluses, ingrown toenails, or redness.
- Their toes are crammed in the front of the shoe.
- They don’t want to put on their shoes on.
- They say their feet hurt.
Signs your kid’s sneakers are too big or wide:
- Their heel lifts out of the shoe when they walk.
- Their walk is affected, or they drag their feet.
- They trip over their shoes when they walk.
How often should I Check My Kid’s Shoe Size?
Because of children’s rapidly growing feet, most experts recommend you should measure them every two months or so. As they get older, their foot growth will slow down. Use our downloadable kids shoe size chart (see below), as well as the following growth estimates by age range, for guidance as you measure.
Ages 1 to 3: Feet will grow ½ size to a whole size every 3.5 to 4 months.
Ages 4 to 6: Feet will grow ½ size to a whole size every 4 ½ to 5 months.
Ages 7 to 10: Feet will grow ½ size to a whole size every 5 to 6 months.
Ages 11 to 17: Feet will grow ½ size to a whole size every 6 months.
(Note: these growth estimates are only averages; growth rates will vary individually.)
How to Measure Feet for Sneakers
While shoe manufacturers vary a bit on sizing, we’ve created a general sizing guide for kids sneakers to get you in the zone. Here’s how to measure your kids’ feet for sneakers with our handy kids shoe size chart:
- Download our free, printable kids shoe size chart.
- Print the chart at 100% scale.
- Grab a pencil.
- Place the printout flat on the floor on a solid (not soft) surface.
- Have your child stand on the paper, barefoot, with the back of the heel of one foot lined up with the heel line. The other foot should be right next to it.
- Instruct your child to distribute their weight evenly on each foot and relax their toes.
- Mark the length of each foot from heel to toe.
- Measure both feet. If they’re different sizes, go with the larger one.
Download the Kids Shoe Size Chart
Click To Open
Foot measuring tips
- To measure foot width, measure across the ball of the foot (the widest part).
- Feet are often slightly different sizes, so make sure you measure both feet carefully. If feet are different lengths and sizes, go with the larger measurement for best fit. (If your child happens to have a significant difference in foot sizes, consider purchasing two pairs to accommodate their needs.)
- Occasionally, stand behind your kid and have them put their feet together on a flat surface. If their ankles are bowing in or out, they probably need new insoles or even new shoes.
Important note: Since standard sizing doesn’t exist across footwear brands, be sure to double-check the brand’s size chart, if it’s available. Compare your child’s foot length (and width) to the listed sizes.
Zulily Insider Tip:
Is it time for a new size? Try the insole trick!
Take the insoles out of your kids’ sneakers and lay them on the floor. Have your kid stand squarely on the insoles. If their toes touch the top of an insole or go over it, it’s time to resize.
Understanding Kids’ Shoe Sizes
Kids’ shoes can be a little confusing. Most kids shoe sizes usually list the age range with a size to help guide shoppers – Infant, Toddler, Little Kid and Big Kid – and are designed to accommodate kids up to about age 12, or a Big Kid size 7. Younger kids’ shoe sizes run from size 0 (infants) to size 12, to fit infant to four-year-old age ranges. Youth sizes start with Little Kid (size 13), and then start over again at size 1 through size 3 (meaning a Youth 1 is larger than a Youth 13). Youth Big Kids sizes typically start at size 4, run through size 7, and generally fit kids who are 8 to 10+ years old.
Sometimes there is a difference in naming that can also be confusing. For example, a shoe size might say Little Kid 11, Youth 11 or Toddler 11. The size is the same regardless of the age range attached to it. In other words, they are all the same size 11. Obviously, a Little Kid size 1 is much bigger than an Infant size 1, but it’s still something to be aware of when ordering sizes displaying the same number.
These size ranges are based on Zulily’s wide variety of kids’ footwear:
(Birth to 1 year)
Sizes 0 – 3
(1 to 4 years)
Sizes 4 – 12
(4 to 8 years)
Sizes 13; 1 – 3
(8 to 10+ years)
Sizes 4 – 7
Some shoe companies offer sizes for age 12+ but most kids are ready to move into adult size shoe ranges once they size out of Big Kids shoes. Once your kids outgrow girls’ shoes, they can move into women’s sizes, ranging from 4 to 13.
Likewise, when boys outgrow children’s shoe sizes, they can fit in men’s sizes, which range from size 6 to 16. When it comes to boys’ shoe sizes, a men’s size 7 is the same as a Youth or Big Kids’s size 7. So, when boys hit that number, they can start shopping for men’s shoes (which can be a bit more expensive).
Size ranges ultimately vary based on the brand, so it’s important to also look at the brand’s size chart to determine which size your child will fit into. For European or Asian sizing, look up conversion charts online.
Most kids’ shoes are designed with medium width, but there is no standard width measurement. If your child’s feet are rubbing along the sides of either toe box, consider looking for wide or extra-wide shoes.
Most kids’ shoe manufacturers use these measurements for shoe width:
- Medium: M, B
- Wide: W, D
- Extra-Wide: EW, 2E
Others use these notations for width, which are more commonly found in adult shoe width measurements:
- Narrow: B, C, N
- Medium: D, M
- Wide: E, W
- Extra-Wide: EE, WW, XW
How to Measure Width
Your best bet is to measure your child’s foot width across the widest part at the ball of the foot and then follow the shoe manufacturer’s guide for width.
Pro tip: Trace your kid’s foot on our kids shoe size chart printout to measure the width at the ball of the foot.
What If Kids are Between Shoe Sizes?
While you should always try to buy shoes that are true-to-size, it’s possible that your kid’s feet might be two different sizes or in-between sizes. In either case, go with a half-size bigger to avoid squishing their feet. That said, don’t buy sneakers that are too big. It might seem like a good idea to buy shoes that are larger and let their feet grow into them, but it’s not. Shoes that are too big can have unintended consequences when it comes to proper foot development. Some manufacturers may include special insoles to switch out as feet grow, so a pair can last a bit longer.
When browsing for shoes online, you’ll probably look for the colors and styles your child might like or you might look for sneaker trends. Consider their foot type and activities as well as their measurements, since there are many structural elements about shoes that can affect the fit besides an actual shoe size. Get familiar with these important terms to help you find exactly what you need for your child’s sneakers.
While closures themselves don’t affect the size of the shoe, they can affect how sneakers fit. Adjustable closures like shoelaces, elastic shoelaces and Velcro allow adjustability around the instep for width, while slip-on or pull-on styles allow for easy on-and-off, but not much flexibility in width.
- Laces (regular or elastic)
- Slip-on or pull-on
You’ll regularly see the term “upper” when shopping online for shoes, which refers to what the outside of the shoe is made of above the sole. Sneakers can be made of many materials, but most commonly you’ll see sneakers made of man-made materials, like mesh or nylon, which can provide a more flexible fit with a little stretch. Leather sneakers for kids look great for dressing up, but they will provide a more sturdy, less flexible fit (though they will likely relax over time).
The toe box is the part of the sneaker that surrounds the toes and has a large impact on your child’s foot health. The toe box needs to have enough extra room to accommodate the foot’s full range of motion as your child walks, runs and plays. How much space do they really need in the toe? Make sure your child can wiggle their toes freely without feeling squished, and that their toes are not touching the front (or are set too far back, which can cause tripping).
Insole or footbed
The insole, also known as the foot bed, is a soft, cushioned pad (usually removable) made from a foam, gel and/or leather material, which is positioned inside the sneaker to provide support, cushioning and warmth for the feet.
All sneakers come with insoles, but you can always purchase insoles separately that can provide superior cushioning or arch support. The thicker the insole, the snugger the fit; something to keep in mind if you’re buying additional insoles for shoes. Extra arch support can be helpful for flat feet (more on that below).
The sole of the shoe is what touches the ground and plays an important role in comfort and longevity. Sneaker soles are usually made of rubber, and can be white, black or even more colorful. (Some even light up, just for fun!) While the sole itself doesn’t affect fit, worn-down soles need to be replaced before they negatively impact your child’s gait. Keep an eye on the bottom of their shoes for indications that they need to be replaced, like treads smoothing or cracks forming.
The arch of the foot is the middle area between the heel and the ball of the foot. Having flat feet is part of normal development for children. As children grow older and their feet form, their arches develop more. Arches will start to appear around the age of two or three, so don’t worry about arch support in infant and toddler shoes. After the age of six, arches will likely appear in their feet. Most little kid and big kid shoes will have built-in arch support or insoles.
How to check the fit once the shoes arrive
When you receive the shoes you’ve ordered online, it’s important to make sure they fit correctly. First, make sure your child is wearing the type of socks they typically wear. Then, have them put on the sneakers, taking care to first remove any and all packaging (there may be stuffed paper in the toe box, tags and stickers still attached or small packets of desiccants included that help control humidity in the packaging).
When checking the fit of your kid’s sneakers, you should also be able to slide a pinky around the opening of the shoe on either side of the tongue. If it’s too tight, they need a different size. There should also be enough space in the toe box to press the tip of your thumb down without hitting a toe.
Kids might not understand the question, “Do your shoes fit well?” Instead, ask your child specific questions like, “Can you wiggle your toes?” and “Does it press too much here?” The best way to see if a shoe fits is to watch them in action. Ask them to jump, dance, or run around while they’re trying on the sneakers. (Do this indoors in case the shoes don’t fit. That way, you can easily return them without scuffs or dirt marks.) Have them squat down, walk up and down some stairs, and rock on their feet, forwards and side-to-side (this helps determine if the shoes are too wide or too stiff, to see how sturdy the shoes are and to assess how well their ankles are supported). Keep in mind that all shoes will loosen up a bit with time.
How sneakers are supposed to fit
Your child’s shoes should support movement and ensure they will stay comfortable all day long. Most experts say when it comes to the right fit, shoes should:
- Not be too loose, but not too tight
- Provide enough wiggle room for toes
- Not rub too close on their joints or press into their toenails
- Not slip around the heel or any other areas of the foot
- Be broad enough to accommodate the width of the foot without excess space
Foot health is incredibly important to a child’s development, from infancy as they grow into young adults. Investing in a pair of high-quality sneakers – a type of shoe that will never go out of fashion – will help them their entire lives. Ready to find their next pair of kicks? Let’s go!