How to calculate shoe size in toddlers

Updated April 17, 2017

Children grow quickly, and as a result, they may outgrow their shoes before they are worn out. This can lead to children wearing the wrong size shoes, as a study presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' (AAOS) 2009 annual meeting found. More than 50 per cent of the young children in the study wore shoes that were too small. Wearing the wrong size can make children uncomfortable, and, even worse, lead to foot deformities. Accurately measuring your toddler's feet is critical when purchasing new shoes.

Set a blank sheet of paper on hard flooring. Have your toddler stand with one foot flat on the paper, feet apart, so you will get a more accurate measurement. He should be barefoot or wearing the same kind of socks he will wear in his new shoes.

Hold a pen or pencil perpendicular to the paper, and draw a line behind your toddler's heel and in front of her longest toe. Measure the distance between the lines with a ruler in inches or centimetres. Round up if your child is between sizes, and add a 0.25 inches or 0.5cm to the measurement for increased comfort and growing room. The following are measurements and corresponding sizes: 5 inches (12.7cm), size 5-1/2; 5.13 inches (13cm), size 6; 5.25 inches (13.3cm), size 6-1/2; 5.5 inches (14cm), size 7; 5.63 inches (14.3cm), size 7-1/2; 5.75 inches (14.6cm), size 8; 6 inches (15.2cm), size 8-1/2; and 6.13 inches (15.6cm), size 9.

Measure your toddler's second foot the same way you measured the first, since it is normal for toddlers to have different sizes of feet. Buy shoes that fit your toddler's largest foot.

Visit the manufacturer's website if you plan to order a specific brand of shoe. Shoe fit can vary by brand, and manufacturers often provide guidelines for finding the correct fit for their brand of shoes.

Try shoes on your toddler at a children's shoe store to ensure your measurement of the shoe size is accurate. Feet are three dimensional, so measuring them with a two-dimensional object will only estimate the size of shoe your toddler needs. Even if you measure your toddler's feet perfectly, you might still end up with the wrong size of shoes. A 2009 AAOS study found that more than 90 per cent of shoes were smaller than the manufacturer's stated size.


If your toddler is wearing the right size shoes, he should be able to wiggle his toes easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank piece of paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler
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About the Author

Based in southern Idaho, Michelle Johnson started writing in 1991. Her work has been published in the science fiction and fantasy journal, "Extrapolation." Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a Master of Arts in fantasy literature, both from Hofstra University in New York.