The Difference Between Toddler Shoe Sizes & Regular Children's Sizes

When you're at the shoe store, ready to get your kids some cool kicks, you don't want to accidentally grab the wrong size. If you're outfitting a toddler and a "big" kid, that size 3 shoe in the children's section won't fit your little one. Don't let sizing stump you; the conversion between sizes is fairly straightforward. It can take time to find the right shoe, but a good fit is an investment in your child's health.

Toddler Shoe Sizing

Shoe size corresponds with foot length. Toddler shoe sizing in most brands goes up to a toddler U.S. size 10 or 12. In general, toddler sizing ends somewhere between 6.5 and 7 inches, according to 3. Bear in mind that there is about a half-size difference between U.S. and U.K. sizes. The best place to start is a store that specializes in children's shoes, where a knowledgeable salesperson can help you select the right style and size for your child.

Youth Shoe Sizes

In many brands, youth sizing begins at 7.25 inches, which corresponds to a size 12.5 U.S. After size 13.5, the sizing starts over at 1, according to If you are looking for sizes in a specific brand, consult the company's website before you hit the store; many sites feature their own sizing charts.

Measure for the Right Fit

While sizing by your child's age is a good place to start, there is no substitute for measuring your child's foot. Age does not always correspond with the size of a child's foot, so estimating this way is risky. Your best bet is to use the sizing devices available at the store. If you are shopping with a toddler, allow plenty of time for measuring and trying on shoes, and make sure to get a nap and a feeding in before you get going. There is nothing worse than wrangling a cranky toddler into several pairs of shoes in a crowded department store.

Buying Tips

The American Podiatric Medical Association suggests shopping for shoes in the afternoon, as feet tend to swell later in the day. If your child usually wears socks, have him wear them at the store. Grab a few selections and try each of them on, allowing your child to walk around the store in each pair. According to, you should be able to slip a pinky up to the knuckle at the back for optimal fit. When it comes to length, there should be a centimeter to a half-inch of space between the tip of the toe and the front of the shoe. The tongue of the shoe should line up with the edge of the laces or Velcro. Be prepared to repeat this process every two to four months for your toddler's comfort; after all, healthy feet are happy feet.

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