Once your baby is up and about and walking, they will need some shoes. While it’s important they still walk around your home barefoot as it helps their feet develop naturally, for outdoor activities like going to the park, they’ll definitely require some footwear.
So what size should you buy for a 1 year old when they start walking? On average most babies around this age should have size 4-5 shoes, which is around 4.5-5” long. As you can see there is a range, so you really need to get your babies feet measured properly so you can find the right size. Let’s explore this in more detail.
Average shoe size for a 1 year old
The average shoe size for a 1 year old is around 4-5. That being said, you will of course want to get your baby or toddler’s feet measured first. Everyone is different after all. Although there is not usually much of a difference between the size of girls and boys shoes for babies and toddlers, this does change as children get older and become adults.
Are shoe sizes the same in different countries?
Just to confuse you, shoe sizes are different in various countries for babies, children and adults. There are lots of useful conversion charts out there, like this one that helps parents figure out shoe sizes around the world. Here are the average shoe sizes for 1 year olds in the following countries:
- In the USA, the average shoe size for a 1 year old is around 4-5.
- In the UK, it’s 3-4.
- In Canada, it’s also 4-5.
- In Australia, it’s 3.5-4.5
- In the EU, it’s 19-21.
Are shoe sizes the same in all retailers?
Unfortunately, shoe sizes are not the same in all retailers. Each retailer has a different style and fit of their shoes. Just like for adults, children’s shoes can be sized dramatically differently in each store. Just like clothes, you will find that some retailers measure up big and others come up small compared to the size on the label. The only way to know for sure if a pair of shoes will fit your baby is to try them on.
You should be ok with their size 4 or 5 shoes if your baby is around 12 months old. In general, Nordstrom seem to have slightly larger sizes for kids clothes and shoes, which is ideal if your child is above average in weight and height. However, for babies the sizes are still fairly standard.
Kohls on the other hand state that their size 4 shoes are for 6-12 months, and their size 5’s are for 12 month old babies. On the face of it, it looks like they cater for children who are slightly above the average weight and shoe size for their age.
How do you find the right size shoe for your baby?
The best way to know if a pair of shoes is the right size for your baby is by trial and error. You will first want to measure their feet yourself or have them measured at a trusted shoe retailer. Then, once you have the right size it is time to visit the shoe section or head online. The best time to measure your baby’s feet is later on in the day; feet tend to swell during the day as they get warmer.
Also make sure you measure both feet as your baby may have one foot longer than another (this is more common than you think!). Finally, it’s probably a good idea for your baby to be wearing socks when you measure their feet.
Try several different designs and styles in your baby’s measured size and then prepare to size up or down as needed. You’re looking for a little bit of wiggle room, but not too much. If your baby can walk already let them try them out in the store, or at home if you bought shoes online. Feel the ends of the shoes when they are standing up to see if their toes are squished at the end, or if there is too much room. Check if the shoes slip at the heel when they walk. If so they may be too big or need to be adjusted.
You are looking for a shoe that:
- Does not slip at the heel when they walk.
- Doesn’t have the toe too close to the end, or too far where the shoe bends when they walk.
- Has room for their foot to spread out as they stand and walk.
- Feels comfortable
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Don’t be afraid to buy a couple of sizes online and return the ones you don’t need. Since every shoe is different you may need to try a few styles before you find the perfect fit. If you visit a store, remember that you can try them on your baby again at home, before they wear them outdoors, to double check the fit.
How do you measure their feet?
You’ll need a tool to help measure your baby’s feet. You could use a tape measure, a paper template, an online measuring tool that uses photos of the feet or a foot measure. This last option is the most popular. Buy your own to keep at home or visit a reputable children’s shoe retailer to use theirs.
Ensure your baby’s foot slides into the foot measure properly while they are standing. This way you can measure the true size of your baby’s foot, when they are putting their full weight on the ground. Check the length measurement at the tip of their longest toe. Then measure the width of their feet using the tape. Check again regularly because children’s feet grow quickly!
Should you consider half sizes for a 1 year old?
There is no reason why you can’t try a half size for a 1 year old. That being said, babies feet grow fast and you may find yourself replacing shoes at double the speed. More often than not, shoes for babies and young toddlers only come in full sizes. Once they hit 2-3 years old, half sizes are seen more often and make more sense for their growth and your budget.
Finally, in addition to the shoe size, make sure you look at the width of your baby or toddler’s foot too when sizing them up for shoes. No one likes their feet to feel squished or slide around inside their shoes. We are all a little bit different, which makes life fun, but also means shopping for shoes is very much an individual process.
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Anna is a mum of three who loves exploring the outdoors with her family and border collie. She has an MA in Childhood and Youth Development.