How to Measure Baby Shoe Size

Baby trying on shoes

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Madelyn Goodnight / Getty Images

Bronzing your baby's shoes might not be as popular a practice as it once was, but parents are often still eager to put a cute tiny pair of shoes on their baby. However, according to experts, babies don't need to wear shoes until they begin to walk.

Once your little one has taken their first steps, your best bet for baby shoes is to make sure they're comfortable and provide some grip on slippery surfaces. This article explains how to measure your baby's feet for shoes and choose the best shoes for them. It will also review shoes for pre-walkers and new walkers, as well as which ones to avoid.

How to Measure Your Baby's Feet for Shoes

When determining what shoes to buy for your little one, size and comfort are the most important factors. While pre-walkers will only be wearing their shoes for looks, it is still critical that they aren't in shoes that are too small for their quickly growing feet.

Once your child begins walking, fit is even more crucial. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, poorly-fitting shoes can cause multiple problems in kids. While a shoe that's too big can cause the foot to slide forward and put excess pressure on the toes, tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails, blisters, and calluses.

These issues can be avoided with a simple, accurate measurement of your baby's feet to make sure you're buying the right size.

Step-by-Step Guide to Measuring a Baby's Feet

Follow these steps from baby and toddler shoe manufacturer Robeez to get a good fit:

  1. Extend your baby's bare foot on a flat surface, making sure their toes are not curled under.
  2. Lay a tape measure or ruler beside their foot and measure from the back of the heel to the longest toe.
  3. Measure both feet in this way and use the longer of the two measurements. (Don't worry if one foot is larger than the other; this is completely normal among all ages!)
  4. With your baby's shoes on, gently press down on the toe of the shoe. There should be about 1/2 inch of space between their toes and the end of the shoe.
  5. You should be able to place your pinkie finger between the heel and the back of the shoe.
  6. To check the shoe width, be sure you can grasp a small bit of material on either side of the widest part of your baby's foot.

While it may be tempting, don't skip the measurements and simply choose a shoe size for your child based on age. While sizing by age provides a general guide, babies' feet grow at all different rates. Your little one could easily have feet that are larger or smaller than other babies their age.


Click Play to Learn How to Buy Baby's First Shoes

How to Choose Shoes for Pre-Walkers

While shoes aren't necessary for babies, some parents enjoy putting their babies in shoes for style and warmth. If you want to put shoes on your baby, look for soft-sole shoes.

Soft-sole shoes are more decorative than anything else (and can help keep socks on your baby's feet for warmth).

Popular Brands for Crawlers and Pre-Walkers

  • IsaBooties
  • Jack & Lily
  • Lacoste
  • Merrell
  • New Balance
  • Nina Kids
  • Pediped
  • Preschoolians Crawlers
  • Robeez
  • Skechers
  • Stride Rite Prewalkers
  • Umi
  • Vans

Of course, you could also dress up your baby in a cute pair of socks until they are walking. While they are cruising and crawling, babies need soft socks with non-skid soles more than shoes.

If your infant wears decorative shoes, take them off whenever your baby begins to cruise or walk. Bare feet or socks with non-skid soles will help with their balance.

How to Choose Shoes for Walkers

Once your child is walking, consider price, comfort, and style when choosing shoes. Some things to look for include:

  • Comfort
  • Correct fit (a bit of room at the toes, heel, and sides)
  • Higher fit at the ankles to prevent your little one from taking them off
  • Non-skid or skid-resistant soles

Save that pair of classic hard-soled baby shoes just for bronzing. Your toddler will likely do better in more flexible, soft-soled shoes even at this age. In addition, many brands of shoes for kids are made of very soft leather, which has the benefit of being comfortable and washable.

Flexible soles and good fit are essential. Unless your baby's doctor recommends them, skip the added expense of arch supports, special inserts, reinforced heels, or any other added feature.

How to Avoid Problems

Some shoes are more prone to slipping off kids' feet than others. These types of shoes include Crocs, sneakers with Velcro straps, and flip-flops.

More secure shoes can protect your toddler or preschooler from stubbed toes, broken toenails, splinters, and other injuries, even inside the house. For example, kids can get injured when loose-fitting shoes get caught in an escalator. If your child's shoes are flopping off their feet, it's probably wise to graduate them to laced shoes.

When to See a Pediatrician

Talk to a pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child's feet. Some signs that may warrant a visit to the doctor include:

  • Ingrown toenails
  • In-toeing (walking with feet turned inward) or out-toeing (walking with feet turned outward)
  • Not walking by 15 months
  • Toe walking

A Word From Verywell

If you are tempted to put shoes on your baby, keep in mind that unless they are walking, shoes are unnecessary. However, if you want your infant to wear them for fun or warmth, stick to shoes that have soft soles and make sure they are the correct size for your baby's feet.

When your child begins walking, look for skid-resistant shoes that fit well and aren't easy for your toddler to pull off. Soft-soled shoes are great options for kids just learning to walk.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nemours KidsHealth. Is my baby ready for shoes?.

  2. Foot Health Facts. Avoid kids foot problems with the right shoes.

  3. Robeez. Baby shoe size chart.

  4. Hollander K, de Villiers JE, Sehner S, et al. Growing-up (habitually) barefoot influences the development of foot and arch morphology in children and adolescentsSci Rep. 2017;7(1):8079. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07868-4

  5. Walle EA. Infant social development across the transition from crawling to walkingFront Psychol. 2016;7:960. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00960

Additional Reading

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.

Updated by Kathi Valeii
Person with shoulder-length hair, wearing clear glasses and a denim jacket leans against a building.

Kathi Valeii is a freelance writer covering the intersections of health, parenting, and social justice.


Learn about our editorial process