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How To Tell If Toddler Shoes Are Too Small

How To Tell If Toddler Shoes Are Too Small

How do you tell if your toddler’s shoes are too big, too small, or if they fit right? In all aspects, properly fitting footwear is a crucial need for babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages.

Note, wearing ill-fitting shoes or something not designed for their subtle growing feet can pose a plethora of foot complications as the clock keeps ticking.

Actually, a contemporary study by the College of Podiatry demonstrated that almost 30% of children in the UK wear the wrong size shoes, which could harm their feet for the most part. In the US, things aren’t any different.

The majority of kids wear shoes that are too small, putting them at risk of developing serious foot deformities, including bunions. This is according to a study by Swiss researchers presented in the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).

The study examined the feet measurement of about 250 kids, based on both indoor and outdoor footwear. The results revealed the following.

  •       52.8% of their outdoor shoes were too small while 13.3% were too large
  •       61.6% of their indoor footwear were too small while 1.02% were too large
  •       90.2% of their outdoor shoes were smaller than the stated marketing size
  •       97.6% of indoor footwear were smaller than the sated marketing size


It is important to make sure that your child is wearing the right footwear to support them throughout every step they make. This guide will help you explore everything you need to know about the proper footwear for your child.

Toddlers Feet: The Anatomy

Your youngster’s feet will look much more grownup by the age of two. The bones harden while their toasties lose the trademark pudginess of the infant’s feet. Toddler’s feet naturally grow at a rapid rate, approx. half a size every 2-3 months.

Early walkers will; develop fine motor skills at this growth stage as they work on their crawling abilities, rolling, walking, climbing, and jumping. Basically, any sort of movement you can expect.

Toddlers, therefore, need shoes that support proprioception (how joints and muscles send signals to the brain to help coordinate, or rather cope with the movement.

Toddlers’ feet should remain low to the surface with adequate support to help them get all the much-needed sensory feedback. That’s why shoes for early walkers are designed with a memory foam footbed and special tactile pods on the bottoms.

Most kids tend to have a flat foot throughout their toddlerhood, and their arches may not completely develop until around the age of five. Flat arches are generally normal among toddlers, thus not a call for concern.

However, if your kid experiences pain or you notice extreme misalignment or pronation, it’s recommended to have the feet checked by a podiatrist.

Also Read: Symptoms Of Wearing The Wrong Running Shoe

Effects of Ill-fitting Shoes on Toddlers Feet

Besides the delicate nature of toddlers’ feet, most kids’ shoes aren’t actually made to support proper feet development. Blisters, bruises, and irritation are common symptoms of ill-fitting shoes.

Since toddlers’ feet continue growing even when wearing shoes, improper fitting or poorly designed shoes, especially when worn for too long, will put the kid at risk for long-term foot issues. These effects may include inflammation, pain, vein problems, shortened foot muscles, and even dystrophy. Thus, finding the right fit for your child is crucial.

Proper Fitting Toddlers Shoes

Understand Their Size

First of all, ascertain the kid’s current shoe size. The fact that babies and toddlers’ feet can grow half a size (and even more) every two or three months means you should have their feet measured more often, especially when buying new shoes.

This will help avoid buying your child’s shoes that are way too small or something that will run undersize within no time.

Make sure you give them room. Most parents already know that toddlers need ample room within their footwear. However, they tend to underestimate the adequate room. For the best part, half an inch of extra room is a safe bet. It will help your kid roll the feet properly when making movements.

Points of Consideration


One way to ensure proper depth in your toddler’s shoes is by running your thumb over the top of the shoe. Appropriate depth should make you feel the fabric ripple to a slight extent. Otherwise, if the material is too tight, the shoe may not be deep enough.

On the other hand, if you can squeeze or pinch the fabric into an edge, the shoe is likely to be too deep. Note that if the foot of your child presses unpleasantly against the vamp, the shoe is likely to be too shallow. A wide gap means the footwear is somewhat too deep for your toddler’s foot.


To measure the width, let your kid stand up with the shoes on. Inspect the shoe to see whether it fits the child’s foot shape. Check if there’s any pressure against their feet. If the shoes are not too small, the ball of their foot should be snug and comfortable throughout without any irritation or pitching.

The Length of The Shoe

To check the shoe’s length, press the tip of your thumb against the toe box of the shoe. The toe box should provide enough room for your toddler to wiggle around without rubbing the front of the shoe. However, not too much space as the feet could slide forward.


Arch support might not be the most influential aspect, especially for kids below the age of five. In fact, shoes that hinder the toddler’s feet from feeling the ground might compromise feet development.

Therefore, the shoe’s arch should support the foot of your kind and enhance sensory feedback without causing misalignment or discomfort.

Ankles and Heel slip

Check your kid’s ankle bones. If the shoe doesn’t have a soft, cushioned collar, that particular shoe’s top line should not rub against their ankle bones. Check then closures. Since toddlers’ feet tend to be in constant development, consider those shoes with adjustable laces or hook-and-loop straps that allow for customization.

The heel slip of the shoe should hold their heel comfortably and snugly without causing any irritation. For independent early walkers, you might want to watch how they walk. Make sure their feet aren’t sliding out or getting pinched in heel slip.

Another way to check if your toddler’s shoes are comfortable is to keep an eye on how they walk, jump, or run in the shoes. In case of any stubbing, unsteady natural gait, consider readjusting their shoes and have them walk again—Double-check whether you have the right size. Still, you might want to try a different pair of shoes.