free-shipping

How Fast Do Children's Feet Grow?

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Elf Martin There have been 48 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 2). 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.

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.

Related Posts:


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

48 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
    Jennifer Saranow Schultz says:

    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:

    http://hintmama.com/2013/09/17/todays-hint-have-your-child-wear-used-shoes/

    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: http://www.softstarshoes.com/resale

    Posted on September 17, 2013 at 9:03 AM

  • Debra rosenbloum
    Debra rosenbloum says:

    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

  • Christimathews
    Christimathews says:

    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

  • HubbaBuba
    HubbaBuba says:

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

    Posted on March 21, 2014 at 5:21 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

  • missy87s
    missy87s says:

    So iam having problems looking for winter shoes for my son who will be 2 next month. We have been wearing sandals or flip flops most of the summer. The problem is i want soft/durable/flexible shoe for him. And when i go to pediped or other places his feet are to big for the shoes made fir his age. Hes wearing a open toe size 10 sandal currently. He is over the 90th percentile for height and weight. Im really cinfused bc he is still young and i dont want to damage the develpoment of his feet by buying shoes for young youths that are stiffer harder and heavier. What should i do.

    Posted on September 25, 2014 at 7:07 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Missy. I have a nephew who was over the 90th percentile for his size when he was that age, and it was definitely a challenge finding shoes and clothes for him, especially with how fast he was growing. I think the best you can do is to just keep going up in size and do your best to find the right size to give him growing room without making shoes so big that he trips over them. My nephew's growth spurts leveled out in the following years and is now average for his size, so that may also happen with your son. If you're interested in our shoes, then I recommend contacting our customer service elves directly at 866-763-2525 or elves@softstarshoes.com. They can talk to you about size and width options and may ask for measurements to find the best fit. Good luck!

    Posted on September 25, 2014 at 9:01 AM

  • Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Great info- just trying to work out what size winter boots I might need for a current size five (toddler!)

    Posted on September 29, 2014 at 1:11 PM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    I hope it helps, Lisa. Feel free to contact us if you have any other sizing questions!

    Posted on September 29, 2014 at 1:44 PM

  • Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Thanks for this article. I am having a terrible time trying to find he right size shoe for my toddler, who seems to be in between sizes. Her foot is 6.25". A size 9 seems to not give extra room in the toe. But a size 10 seems big and slips at the heel. Ive had her measured and they said her toe was right on the line of a 9. What size should she be in if there are no half sizes? I am confused because I keep hearing that we should have 1/2" of space at the toe, but not in the back. But when my daughter walks, her feet just push to the front of her shoes an if there is any extra space, it ends up in the back of the shoe and the heel slips up and down. So I'm not sure how I can get the extra 1/2" of space without the shoe falling off or being uncomfortable. She also has a narrow foot, so I'm not sure if that is why? Do we need less wiggle room with a narrow foot? Thanks for your help.

    Posted on November 4, 2014 at 8:38 PM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Lisa. We can understand the difficulty you're having sizing your toddler. It's true that shoes will often slide forward if they're too big, but as long as there's room there then the child will still grow into the shoes—f there isn't heel room then there will be too much pressure on the toes. When it's a close call, we always recommend going with the larger size. It may be too floppy at first, but she'll quickly grow into them, whereas if you get the smaller size then they'll quickly be too tight. If she has a narrow foot then the narrow width may help a lot with the fit. Our narrow shoes have less upper material in addition to being slightly narrower, so there is less room for the foot to slide around.

    It may help for you to try this printable sizing guide for our size 10 shoes. It shows width standards so you can see at a glance if she would do better in a narrow shoe. You can also find these guides for other child sizes on our sizing page:

    http://www.softstarshoes.com/PDF/10_shoe_200801.pdf

    I hope that helps. Feel free to contact us with any questions. If you're still unsure, you may want to contact our customer service elves directly to discuss it further: 866-763-2525 or elves@softstarshoes.com. They may ask you for instep or heel measurements.

    Good luck!
    Elf Martin

    Posted on November 5, 2014 at 12:39 AM

  • KFH
    KFH says:

    When I was about 11.5 years old, I could get into a size 10, I'm about 12.3 years old now, and I get into a 10.5.

    Posted on February 23, 2015 at 6:17 PM

  • blablabla8hj
    blablabla8hj says:

    love help

    Posted on April 27, 2015 at 8:04 PM

  • swert
    swert says:

    cool.

    Posted on April 27, 2015 at 8:06 PM

  • Jessica
    Jessica says:

    what if you don't think feet are growing enough? My almost 4 year old is in toddler size 9 shoes, has been for at least 6-7 months, as I can't remember if his shoes were the same size before current pair, and if we try a size 10, most are close to 1/2 or more too big. He's comfortable and has a little room in the 9s still....

    Posted on July 7, 2015 at 8:34 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Jessica. Children have unpredictable growth spurts and it's not uncommon for them to go several months without any change. One of Soft Star co-owner Tricia's daughters wore the same shoe size for nearly a year when she was a toddler, then shot up 2-3 sizes within a few months. If you're worried about his growth rate overall, however, then we recommend seeking a doctor's opinion.

    Posted on July 7, 2015 at 9:01 AM

  • Lynda Tate
    Lynda Tate says:

    My grandson who I always buy school shoes for and is getting on for 10 his feet have not grown for over a year and still is a size 2.5 junior (not child). I am worried as even the width has changed he was an H and is now between F and G width. Is this normal?

    Posted on September 4, 2015 at 6:55 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Lynda. Bear in mind we're not doctors, but yes, we see this happen a lot. Soft Star co-owner Tricia has a daughter who stayed the same size for over a year... then suddenly shot up two sizes within a few months.

    Posted on September 4, 2015 at 1:26 PM

  • adam
    adam says:

    My son went from a men's 7.5 to a 10.5 in 12 months. He's 13 year's old. Recently, I've been changing sizes every 3 to 4 weeks. I found a shoe he likes and bought every size up to 12 when it went on sale.

    Posted on October 13, 2015 at 2:17 PM

  • Sarah
    Sarah says:

    What is too big where it might lead to problems? I bought my 14 month old a little larger size (she has a thumbs width, about 1/2 inch of space). Would going up to the next size, an inch, be too big? These are shoes for the winter so I want her to be solid on her feet but I would also like them to last until at least March since winter in Wisconsin can drag on!
    This is my first child so I have no comparison.
    Thanks!

    Posted on November 12, 2015 at 5:48 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Sarah. We find that having a thumbs-width of space is ideal. It will last most kids the better part of a year without being so big that they stumble in their shoes. Unfortunately, we can never predict when kids will have a surprise growth spurt so there is always some guesswork involved. Going up to the next size would only add 1/3" to the overall length of the shoe. If she's had her current size for a while then the next size up would probably be the safest bet.

    Posted on November 12, 2015 at 9:13 AM

  • Mamo
    Mamo says:

    Thank you for a great article and for making me realize my 4 year old grand daughter is fully normal! I thought something was wrong as we have to buy new shoes - size up, every 4 months for her.

    Posted on March 23, 2016 at 2:15 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Glad we could help, Mamo!

    Posted on March 30, 2016 at 9:24 AM

  • Ashton of Dressu
    Ashton of Dressu says:

    This is where we are at with my son's shoes - he just outgrows them after a couple of months! It is so hard to avoid buying those cute tiny footwear but it is not worth the money especially since I know he will outgrow really quickly.

    Posted on July 27, 2016 at 1:33 AM

  • Ana Maria
    Ana Maria says:

    my son will be 2 in 3 months. Is buying shoes half an inch bigger than his foot, too big?
    Thank you.

    Posted on July 27, 2016 at 3:31 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Ana. Half an inch sounds like a reasonable amount of growing room for that age, though the best way to tell is to try on the shoes. If he can still run in them without tripping then it should be okay.

    Posted on July 27, 2016 at 4:14 PM

  • Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I must have small feet. I'm 15 and I am in a kids 3-5 (depending on the brand)

    Posted on August 15, 2016 at 12:24 AM

  • jenni
    jenni says:

    My 4 year old daughter is a 7 and has been for about 10 month now, I can tell we are about to head in to an 8 very soon so hopefully they stay like this for another 10 month :)

    Posted on August 20, 2016 at 11:31 AM

  • Tessa Weikert
    Tessa Weikert says:

    My 4 year old will be 5 in November and has been a size 9 since he was 3. (Like literally because he got size 9 shoes on his 3rd birthday) Its nice but I'm starting to be comcerned.

    Posted on September 10, 2016 at 6:40 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Tessa. It certainly isn't unusual, but if you have any concern about his health then you may want to consult your family doctor.

    Posted on September 12, 2016 at 9:16 AM

  • Tanya
    Tanya says:

    My sons feet have not grown in 2 years he is 6years old and is a size 10 should i be worried he has got development delays.

    Posted on September 28, 2016 at 3:20 PM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Tanya. It's not unheard of for kids to go through that, but if you have any concerns then we recommend consulting your family physician.

    Posted on September 30, 2016 at 1:57 AM

  • Chelsea
    Chelsea says:

    My son is 3 years old, he will be 4 in a few months, and is in a size 1 youth shoe. His growth has been rapid since birth. His pediatrician recommended some soft shoes because he has flat feet. He said that new studies have shown that less support means more of a chance for muscle growth. What is the difference between Soft Star and Robeez? Any specific recommendations?

    Posted on October 13, 2016 at 9:53 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Chelsea. Good questions! We definitely recommend our Roo moccasins for soft shoes to promote growth. The next best would be our child Rambler, which has a rubber sole—not as soft and flexible as our leather-soled Roos, but more durable for the playground.

    As far as the differences between us and Robeez, here's what we wrote for our FAQ:

    Soft Star Moccasins have been made with the same great fitting design since 1989. Robeez shoes were introduced later, and adopted our elastic closure system. However, the similarities stop there.

    Soft Stars are the only shoes with soft, moisture absorbing natural sheepskin soles. The sheepskin sole wicks away moisture and also provides more cushiony protection against toys, gravel or other objects under your toddler's toes.

    Our shoes are handcrafted here in the USA, unlike other children's shoes. Most of our leathers come from US based tanneries, which have stringent rules and regulations for worker safety and environmental standards. No formaldehyde is used in the tanning of our leathers (not the case with many imported leathers and shoes).

    Finally, our moccasin sizes don't stop at age 4 like the competitors—we make them for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, youths and adults!

    Posted on October 13, 2016 at 10:55 AM

  • Rachel
    Rachel says:

    My 3 year old daughter has been a size 6 for over a year now. Aside from the fact that it seems rather small, should i be concerned about the lack of growth?

    Posted on November 28, 2016 at 11:16 AM

  • Elf Martin
    Elf Martin says:

    Hi Rachel. That's not unusual to hear—many kids go through ebbs and flows of growth spurts like that. Nonetheless, we're not qualified to give medical advice about this and only a doctor can tell you whether or not there are any health concerns.

    Posted on November 29, 2016 at 1:26 AM

Comments