How Fast Do Children's Feet Grow?

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Elf Martin There have been 17 comment(s)

How fast do children's feet grow?

One of the most common concerns we hear from parents is the question of how long a pair of shoes will last before a child outgrows them. Toddler years can be an extremely difficult time for sizing feet since many kids seem to need new shoes every few months. Our experienced customer service "elves" spend a good portion of every day helping parents find just the right size to get the most use out of a shoe before those tiny toes are bursting at the seams.

We did our research and found some interesting facts regarding the growth of children's feet:

  • Between ages 1–3, feet can be expected to grow as much as 1.5mm in length each month (about 18mm or 3/4 inch per year).
  • Between ages 3–6, children's feet grow an average of 1mm in length each month (about 12mm or 1/2 inch per year).
  • Between ages 6–10, children's feet grow somewhat less than 1mm per month in length (slightly under 12mm or 1/2 inch per year).
  • Between ages 12–17, a boy’s foot will only grow an additional 10% and girls only about 2%.

As you can see on our child sizing chart, most shoe sizes for kids shoes differ by about 6-9mm, approximately 1/4–1/3 inch. Taking this into consideration, the above data suggests that children between ages 1–3 will need new shoes 2–3 times a year, and children ages 3–10 will need new shoes 1–2 times a year.

So is that exactly what you can expect to see with your child's foot growth? Well, consider these variables:

1. Kids are Different!

Not all children hit growth spurts at the same time. Many of our elves have kids of their own, and they will attest firsthand that a five-year-old child can sometimes go close to a year with the same size foot, then suddenly grow three sizes over the next six months. If your child seems to be growing faster or slower than the average rates shown above, don't panic—it's normal. There's also nothing wrong with a child having feet a few sizes larger or smaller than the average. We often see toddlers the same age wearing shoes two or three sizes apart. They could both easily end up the same size after a couple years (and if they don't, that's still normal).

[Why is the right size so important for kids? SEE OUR RELATED POST: Wikler's Quest for Healthy Children's Feet]

2. You Can Cheat

Sometimes you can "cheat" a size by going a little larger, especially with minimal shoes that are meant give room for feet to stretch and spread. We see a lot of kids in our showroom at the end of the summer in need of new school shoes. Parents want shoes that will last the whole school year, and we often try to find a size that is slightly too big to allow ample growing room. One rule of thumb (literally) is to make sure there is about an adult thumb's width of space between the end of the toes and the front seams of the shoes while the child is standing in them. Of course, you can go TOO big, which can lead to problems. It's important to make sure your child can walk and run comfortably in the shoes without tripping or stumbling (this is especially important for new walkers who already trip and stumble enough on their own). Visitors to our workshop will often notice kids racing across our showroom under close observation.

3. Open-Toed Sandals are Awesome

Toes pushing against the front seam of a shoe are a strong sign that a shoe is too small. It's important to give space for those tiny footsies to spread, as constricting feet can lead to a multitude of foot problems. A sandal with an open toe, however, will give more room for the toes and can sometimes prolong the life of a shoe by almost another size. We see this frequently during the summer with kids in our workshop. If you do try to get more life out of a sandal, it's important to remember to check the rest of the shoe for fit as well. If the sides or instep of the shoe are constricting your child's foot, or if your child's toes are hanging over the front edge of the sole, then it's time for a new pair.

How fast do children's feet grow?

4. Newborn Feet are Special

Between 0–12 months, infants can go through four shoe sizes, but we don't recommend buying shoes for the first 6 months (which is why our shoes start at size 3). Even after 6 months, it is usually recommended to wait until your child begins taking steps before purchasing a pair of shoes. Those tiny feet are very delicate during the first year, and going barefoot will encourage natural and strong foot development. If you do see a need to give your baby's feet protection, we recommend booties or warm, loose-fitting socks.


[MORE INFO: Health Benefits of Going Barefoot and Minimalist Shoes for Children]



So how fast will your child's feet grow and how often will you need new shoes? The most accurate answer: it depends. But if you want a general rule about what to expect, we offer this advice that is by no means set in stone:

2 sizes per year in the first 3–4 years,
1 size per year after that.


Check out our Sizing Page for more sizing tips and shoe size charts.

This post was posted in Foot Health and was tagged with feet, shoes, size, sandal, children, grow, speed, toes

17 Responses to How Fast Do Children's Feet Grow?

  • Amy
    Amy says:

    I'm laughing because you left out ages 10-12....... I've got 7 children, so I can tell you ages 10-12 is CRAZY on shoes. So far, at that age, I've seen most of my kids go up 4-6 sizes in only 6-18 months. It's amazing to watch. My oldest child at 12 was fitted into men's size 7 in August and men's 10s in January. After that, he slowly went into a size 11 by age 17. My "baby" boy is 11 this year- started out in a men's 6, and is currently in a men's 9 1/2. He didn't gain any weight or height, but his feet exploded out!

    What some of us need is a shoe rental program between the ages 10-12. They truly need a new pair of shoes every month at this age. ;)

    Posted on April 19, 2013 at 8:12 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    So true Amy! We focused on the early years for this post because the early teen years is a whole different ordeal. Kids are far more unpredictable at that age with potential for fast and big growth spurts, so it's very difficult to say what to expect.

    Posted on April 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM

  • E Hofwijks
    E Hofwijks says:

    I have 5 children. 3 of them wearing Soft Star Shoes. My youngest daughter is in a size 6 with 15 months old.
    My son will become 3 in June. He has a size 12!
    And my daughter of 4 years old has a size 10.

    The feet of my daughter of 4 don's grow very fast. The feet of my son grow tremendously! I guess he needs size 1 of the youth collection when he is 3,5...

    Posted on May 6, 2013 at 9:39 AM

  • Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Your metric measures are off.

    Posted on August 6, 2013 at 4:17 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Ellen. Could you tell us where you see a mistake? We double-checked and everything looks like it adds up okay. We did round up .71" to 3/4" for simplicity.

    Posted on August 7, 2013 at 1:42 AM

  • Jennifer Saranow Schultz

    Thanks for the helpful info regarding how fast kids' feet grow! I linked to it today from my blog, which focuses on daily hints to make parenting easier and cheaper:

    Posted on September 17, 2013 at 5:11 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Thanks Jennifer! You may want to check out our new Soft Star resale page:

    Posted on September 17, 2013 at 9:03 AM

  • Debra rosenbloum

    We created a product to help parents measure kids feet at home. It's Squatchi kids shoe sizer and foot growth chart. Marking and dating each time you measure your kids feet will help you reference their size but also create a foot growth chart of your children's feet

    Posted on December 19, 2013 at 11:11 AM

  • HubbaBuba
    HubbaBuba says:

    You people with so many children need to stop overpopulating the planet!

    Posted on March 21, 2014 at 3:21 AM

  • Christimathews

    You right Martin the children feet grow at faster rate. I have seen this happen to my nephews and also the foot growth of children depends on the nutritious food.

    Posted on March 21, 2014 at 4:56 AM

  • elf Martin
    elf Martin says:

    Ha ha.

    Posted on March 21, 2014 at 5:41 AM

  • Motherof3
    Motherof3 says:

    My 9 year old daughter was in a size 6 at the beginning of the school year and now since she has been having a lot of growing pains, I just had her feet measured and she is a size 9 like myself. How in the world did she jump 3 shoe sizes in 8 months? If her feet don't stop growing she is going to have big feet!

    Posted on April 26, 2014 at 3:48 PM

  • Dylan
    Dylan says:

    I'm 13 years old and I grow about 2 shoe sizes a year. I up to a size 17 now.

    Posted on June 2, 2014 at 10:02 PM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Wow Dylan! You might be the exception. Size 17 was the largest shoe we've ever made.

    Posted on June 3, 2014 at 5:05 AM

  • Dylan
    Dylan says:

    I'm also 6ft 1. People call me Shaq Jr. Because of my height,and shoe size. I just ordered 4 pairs of socks for $40. It's ridiculous!

    Posted on July 6, 2014 at 6:53 AM

  • Chelsea
    Chelsea says:

    Some great information here on how fast those little feet can grow!

    Posted on July 28, 2014 at 6:47 PM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Thanks Chelsea!

    Posted on July 29, 2014 at 5:02 AM


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