Children grow so quickly and it can feel like you are always updating their wardrobe. It’s not just clothing items either. Their feet are just the same and you will need to buy new shoes for your toddler at least a couple of times, which can be very frustrating if you get the wrong size. Let’s look at the average shoe size for a 3 year old and what you need to know before you go shoe shopping.
- 1 What size shoes do most 3 year olds need?
- 2 Are shoe sizes the same in every country?
- 3 How do you find the right shoe size for your child?
What size shoes do most 3 year olds need?
Most 3 year olds need 8 or 9 child sized shoes in US sizes. Now, we all know that every child is an individual and grows at different rates. My eldest son was in size 7 shoes at age 3, while my middle child, who is 3 right now, is following the average track on the growth chart and wears a size 8.
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The other things to bear in mind are that shoe sizes also vary from store to store and with each style. It is helpful to know the average shoe size for your 3 year old to guide your search for shoes. However, when it comes to actually clicking “buy” it is important to remember that each pair of shoes will fit differently. You may have to try on different pairs at the store or at home first before you commit to the right ones for your toddler.
Is there much of a difference between boys and girls shoe sizes at this age?
There is not really a substantial difference between boys and girls shoe sizes at age 3. You will find most shoes are comparable in size, even when the style is designed to appeal to either boys or girls. This can be helpful for shoe shopping, especially when you need a specific kind of shoe such as rain boots or ski boots. It opens up the options available to you.
Are shoe sizes the same in every country?
No, shoe sizes are not the same in every country just to complicate matters! The average foot size is the same in theory, but the shoe size will be different in the UK, Europe and around the world.
For example, while the average shoe size for a 3 year old is 8 or 9 in the US, it is 7 or 8 in the UK. In Europe this same shoe size is 25 or 26.
Check the labels or product description with care before you buy any pair of shoes for your toddler. Make sure you know which country they are coming from to ensure you get the correct size.
What about in various retailers?
Now, we already know that shoes in all retailers come up differently. This also varies between styles. Here’s a quick guide for the most popular children’s shoe retailers. It is not set in stone, as designs are always changing, but it should help you decide which sizes to try.
- Carters – widely known that their shoes come up big for size.
- Oshkosh – also known for their shoes to come up big for size
- Nordstrom – this is brand dependent since they carry lots of different sizes
- Kohls – this can also be brand dependent, but they carry a lot of Start Rite shoes for toddlers which tend to be true to size.
How do you find the right shoe size for your child?
There is no quick fix to find the right shoe size for your child for most of us. The reality is that your toddler will need to try on different sizes and styles to find the best fit. The first step is to measure their feet, either at home or at a specialist retailer. Once you know their size, it is time to choose shoes.
When you visit a store with a measuring service they will help you with shoe fitting. They usually advise on the length and width of each shoe and guide you through the process. This is helpful so you know what to look for in the future, plus sometimes they can find shoes that give your child room to grow while still having a good fit. This is a win win for us parents and our toddlers!
If you buy shoes online, consider buying a couple of different sizes to try and then return the ones that don’t fit. Let your toddler wear them in the house for a short time to see how they walk in them. If you do this, keep the labels on and make sure they stay clean so you can return them if necessary. Watch for their feet slipping out of the shoes and make sure their toes are not too close to the end. Adjust any straps or laces and note how easy it is to put the shoes on and off. No one wants to be rushing out of the door to preschool and have to spend 10 minutes or more putting your toddler’s shoes on!
Should you consider half sizes for 3 year old children?
Yes, there are times when half sizes for 3 year old children are exactly what you need. However, not all brands will carry half sizes, so shop around if your child is in between sizes. Shoe retailers that offer a fitting service are most likely to offer half sizes for toddler shoes. You know your child best, as you see them walk and grow, and this all helps you decide what shoes and sizes they need.
For many children, the full sizes will be just fine and suit their feet. Alternatively, if half sizes are not available or for you, try a different brand and see how their style fits your toddler. The best fit is usually out there, just like for us adults. You just have to find it!
What is the best way to measure their feet?
You’ll need a tool to help measure your toddler’s feet. You could use a tape measure, a paper template, or 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 toddler’s foot slides into the foot measure properly while they are standing. This way you can measure the true size of your toddler’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!
There is no one fits all when it comes to choosing the right shoes for your child. Prepare to shop around, take time to try them on and be flexible on the style where you can. This will save you money and keep your child comfortable as they learn, grow and play.
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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.