What Size Shoes Does a 1 Year Old Typically Wear? Things to Know

What Size Shoes Does a 1 Year Old Typically Wear? Things to Know

The 1-year-old stage is an exciting time. Most little ones start to take their first steps shortly after turning 1 (some earlier, some later) and they are ready for their first pair of shoes!

Making sure those first pair of walking shoes are the right fit and the correct size is important for healthy foot development.

As an adult with some gnarly bunions from wearing ill-fitting shoes, I appreciate taking the time to make sure my kids wear their correct shoe size. The all-around fit in terms of width and ample wiggle room for toes is important too.  

Average Shoe Size for a 1 Year Old

My 1-year-old (currently 15 months old) is average in terms of her height and weight and is currently somewhere between a 4 and 5 toddler/little kid shoe size in most shoe brands.

Your pediatrician can tell you where your child falls percentile wise for their age at their routine wellness checks. This will give you some idea of whether your child might need a bigger than average size shoe or smaller than average if you have not measured their feet. 

Shoe Sizing for 1 Year Olds at 12 Months Versus 23 Months Old

Keep in mind that the size difference between a 1 year old who is 12 months old versus a 1 year old who is 23 months old can be pretty drastic!

So if you are not measuring your child’s foot and are just googling what size shoe for a 1 year old, keep this difference in mind.

For example, according to Baby Center, an average 12-month-old girl in the United States is close to 20 lbs and just over 29 inches tall. At 23 months, the average girl is nearly 26 lbs and just over 33 inches tall. 

That’s about a 6 lb weight gain and a 4+ inch height gain within a year. For someone who is less than 3 feet tall, that’s some significant growth in a short period of time!

Also, boys are typically bigger than girls at this age, so a “typical” shoe size for a 1 year old can also vary depending on a child’s sex. 

Finding the Right Shoe Size for Your 1-Year-Old

If you want to find a comfortable fit and the right shoes for your child’s feet, it’s a good idea to measure their foot and reference a children’s shoe size guide. Shoe size guides vary from brand to brand, so be sure to check the right one for the shoe you are considering. 

As a busy parent of 2 wild children, I know that taking the time to measure out a squirmy little foot can be a challenge. Luckily, it can actually be quite easy with a trick or two up your sleeve!

A Quick and Easy Way to Measure Children’s Feet for the Perfect Fit

Measuring Length

The best way I have found to measure squirmy little feet is to take two board game boxes with nice 90 degree angles and sandwich my child’s foot between them (if you are not in a shoe store with one of those feet measuring devices, trying to get a 1-year-old to stand straight with the back of the heel against a wall is pretty much impossible). 

I lay a piece of paper down first with a couple of pieces of tape securing it to the floor. Then I have my 1-year-old stand on the paper. Next I quickly place a board game box on each end of her tiny feet (or just do one foot at a time). The floor and the side of the box should make a nice 90 degree angle. 

measuring a 1 year old's foot length

Most kids should be able to hold still just long enough to sandwich their little foot in between the board game boxes. When they step away, just hold the boxes in place. 

You can then make two tick marks against the inner edge of the boxes to get an accurate measurement of their foot length.

Next, just measure the distance between your two tick marks with a measuring tape and reference a shoe size chart for whatever brand you are buying.

Measuring Width

Consider that some 1 year olds have wide feet. While a shoe may fit them great length wise, it may be too tight width wise. In these cases, either sizing up or finding a shoe that comes in a wide width is important for a proper fit.

For example, according to Target’s Cat & Jack size chart, my daughter is a size 4. I can hardly squeeze her plump little foot into a size 4 though, so we have to size up if buying this brand.

Some little kid shoe brands like Stride Rite though, have shoes in “medium”, “wide”, and “extra wide”widths for the best fit. 

To measure for width, take a non-stretchy ribbon or string and snugly loop it around the widest part of your child’s foot. Hold your finger on the end point and then pull the string away and measure the length of it. 

Alternatively, some online shoe companies have printable shoe sizing guides. You can print them out at home and then have your child step on the paper to get their shoe size according to both foot length and width.

Shoe Sizing for Babies and Toddlers

Typically little kid shoe sizing ranges from 0 (newborn) up to 12T.

Then it gets weird because you shift into big kid sizes that typically start at size 13, which is then followed by sizes 1 through 7. As already mentioned though, shoe brands can vary slightly from one another in terms of their sizing charts and systems.

Little Kids Shoe Sizes (Babies and Toddlers)

Unless your baby is walking at a very young age (before 12 months), there’s no need to buy infant shoes. Unless you are dressing them up in a cute outfit, shoes are pretty irrelevant for non-walkers. It’s fun to buy baby shoes though, and they can also protect baby’s feet in cold or sunny weather.

Generally, you can find baby shoe sizes as follows;

  • 0-3 months or 0
  • 3-6 months or 1
  • 6-9 months or 2
  • 9-12 months or 3

Toddler shoe sizes then generally go from 12-18 months or size 4 up to size 12T. 12T typically fits kids up to around 5 years old. I have found this to be true with my son. He is 4.5 years old and is a size 11 according to Target’s Cat & Jack shoe size chart). 

My Favorite Shoes for a 1-Year-Old

Both of my children used Stride Rite soft motion sneakers for their first pair of walking shoes. While Stride Rite shoes can be a little pricey depending on the style, I found both pairs of Stride Rite soft-soled shoes for my kids at the thrift store.

The first pair was $2 and the second was $10, and they have been the perfect shoes. Many young toddler’s “used” shoes have little to no wear and tear, so buying used instead of brand new shoes is a great option. 

1 year old wearing the right shoe size

Stride Rite’s first walker soft motion shoes have a wide toe bed and are soft and flexible for natural movements while walking. The wide-toe bed provides more than enough wiggle room for developing feet and the soft soles create a protective and flexible support system. Plus, these little sneakers look so cute. 

I love that Stride Rite has some eco-conscious shoe options as well. You can also check resale sites like Poshmark to see if there are any gently used shoes available.

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  • Gussi Ochi

    Just another mom learning and growing in motherhood everyday! | BA in psychology, MA in art therapy & counseling, former licensed massage therapist

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