As a new parent, it can be confusing shopping for kids’ shoes. After all, shouldn’t shoe sizes be the same for babies and children?
And what about companies that use different sizing charts? Do they follow standard U.S. shoe sizes, or do they have different youth sizes for boys and girls?
In general, boy and girl youth shoe sizes are the same up until your child is around 11 to 12 years old.
During this time, not only will their taste in style change but so will the rate at which their feet grow compared to the opposite sex.
It would be better if we lived in a world where all shoe sizes, from babies to adults, were based on the length of the foot.
This would, ideally, make shopping for shoes easier. All you would have to do is measure the foot’s length and use this measurement to determine your shoe size.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and shoe sizes for children, toddlers, and big kids can be a bit confusing.
It’s important to realize the subtle differences between these sizes.
From birth up until around 11 to 12 years, your child will use shoe sizing charts for infants, toddlers, and “big kids.”
Infants and toddlers’ shoes will usually be a number from 1–13 followed by a “C” (for child) or “T” (for toddler).
The sizes from 0T-13T will be the same for both boys and girls.
Girls Shoe Sizes
Boys Shoe Sizes
Foot Length in Inches
After your child has outgrown their 0T–13T shoes, they will then begin to wear “big kid” shoe sizes.
Big kid shoe sizes will be indicated with a “K” for a kid, or “Y” for youth, not a “T” or “C.”
It’s important for parents to realize that even a 1K is the next size up from the largest T shoe. This means that a 1K is bigger (way bigger) than a 1T shoe.
Big kid sizes will range between 1 to 7.
Big Kid Sizes
Foot length in mm
If you’re the parent of twins, you might have noticed how your children stayed practically the same size as they grew side by side.
Boys and girls grow at the same rate until their pre-pubescent age. For girls, this is between ages 8 and 13 years old, and for boys, this is between 10 and 13 years old.
During this time, girls will have a growth spurt where they will grow in their height and everywhere else, including their feet.
Boys will also have a growth spurt and continue to grow until they are around age 16.
Due to these growth spurts happening toward the end of childhood, it’s not necessary for shoe manufacturers to distinguish between shoe sizes before that age.
If you have twins or similar-sized children, you will need to start looking at buying different shoe sizes for your children once they begin to wear anywhere between 7k sizes and up.
Around this time, your child will be reaching their growth spurt, indicating they are going to change their existing shoe sizes.
If your child tells you their shoes are beginning to feel uncomfortable, this is also a good indicator to buy them new shoes.
The benefits of gender-neutral same-sized shoes
As your child grows, it’s important to let them express themselves creatively and artistically.
Studies have shown that children develop a sense of fashion at around the age of seven. However, in more inquisitive children, this sense of fashion can happen much sooner!
By finding shoes that are the same sizes for both girls and boys, you’ll be able to let your child express themselves, match shoes with their friends and siblings, and make it easier on yourself to go shopping for your kids.
Same size shoes are a great way to save money since you can actually allow twins or siblings of similar size to share shoes (if they want to).
By having options available, you can allow your child to explore their personality and buy shoes with dinosaurs, bright colors, you name it!
Same shoe sizes can also be beneficial for babies. Having gender-neutral sizes can allow you to buy your baby shoes in any color you want, be it pink, blue, or yellow.
Of course, you can also stick to having them wear booties and socks if they are smaller infants.
There are various ways you can measure your child’s shoe size. Visiting a local shoe store will be your best bet and provide the most accurate size.
At the shoe store, your child will be measured based on the inside of their sole, their foot width, and how comfortable shoes in a particular size feel to them.
Your shoe store representative will use what is known as a Brannock device.
A Brannock device is a device made of metal that will measure your child or teenager’s shoe size.
They will stand on top of the device, which measures their foot length, and use this to determine the size of shoe that fits them.
If you find it inconvenient to visit a shoe store, you can easily buy one for around $65.
However, we recommend visiting a shoe store so they can provide you with service and advice on shoe buying for your child.
Babies are a bit different. They won’t be able to stand on a traditional shoe sizer at the local shoe store. Instead, you’ll have to measure their feet on your own using a ruler.
Using a ruler will allow you to get a straight measurement, which is important since shoes have a flat, straight bottom.
Don’t measure the feet with a tape measure. Tape measures are flexible, and they have a tendency to conform to curves.
This will potentially give you a smaller reading than normal, which can cause pain in your baby’s feet if it leads to them wearing the wrong shoe size.
If you only have a tape measure on hand, make sure to round up to the nearest size for your shoe measurement.
In addition, you can also print out an online sizing guide. This sizing guide is much more comfortable than a Brannock device and can be used easily by your child.
For both adults and children, it’s important to follow these tips below to get an accurate shoe size.
1. Measure during the evening. Our feet tend to expand as the day progresses. Other issues, such as high salt intake and exercise, can also make your feet swell. To get an accurate shoe size measurement, measure your child’s feet during the late afternoon or evening. This will give them some wiggle room for expanding feet.
2. Don’t wear overly thin or thick socks. During the winter, it’s okay to have your child wear thick socks if you live in colder climates. However, keep in mind that shoes will not fit properly once their socks are removed. Similarly, if your child is wearing thin socks during the shoe fitting but then changes to regular socks, this will also negatively impact your child’s comfort later on. It’s best to measure your child’s shoe size with regular socks on.
3. Test the shoes as much as you can. Have your child run in the shoes, if possible, travel up and down the stairs, and test to see if they are able to tie them appropriately. Shoes for kids will generally have Velcro straps. However, if they do come with laces, make sure your child can tie them on their own in case they become untied at school.
If your child has a physical disability, don’t worry. You can still buy shoe sizes to fit their needs.
Certain stores, such as Nordstrom, allow customers to buy different size shoes. This is important if your child has one foot that is larger than the other.
If your child has to wear a brace, keep in mind they might need to size up in order to fit their device.
Alternatively, if your child has a deformity where they cannot use one of their feet, this foot might be smaller than the foot they use regularly.
In either case, ask your local shoe store for recommendations to accommodate your child.
For children with physical disabilities, the best everyday shoes that provide maximum comfort are sneakers or tennis shoes.
Nowadays, sneakers can even be worn to formal events due to improved designs.
If your child wants to wear flip flops, you can do so by using a clear strap around the heel that prevents their flip flops from falling off.
By using the appropriate sizing charts, you can rest assured your child will be comfortable and enjoy wearing shoes as they grow.
By using the tips above, you can find the right shoe size for your child at any age.