How Often Do I Need to Buy Shoes for My Child?
One of the most common concerns from parents—and especially new ones—is how long shoes last before a child outgrows them. Now, this matter certainly needs to be considered on case-by-case basis, but there are some general guidelines to help you know when to head to the store for some new children’s shoes.
Here are some facts regarding growth patterns in children’s feet (something that obviously plays a role in shoes becoming outgrown):
- Feet can be expected to grow as much as 1.5mm in length every month between ages 1-3. (This adds up to roughly 18mm—three-quarters of an inch—per year.)
- On average, children’s feet grow 1mm in length per month between ages 3-6. (Approximately 12mm—half an inch—per year.)
- Children’s feet start to grow just a little less than 1mm in length monthly between ages 6-10.
- From ages 12-17, a girl’s foot will usually only grow an additional 2% in length, whereas a boy’s foot grows about an additional 10% (which can be attributed to the fact females mature at an earlier age than do males).
Naturally, these growth patterns provide a general idea as to what can be expected as a child develops.
During the first year, infants can go through four shoe sizes. That said, we don’t recommend buying shoes for the first 6 months. If you do feel the need to protect your baby’s feet, you may want to opt for booties or warm, loose-fitting socks.
Even after a child is 6-months-old, we might recommend waiting until he or she is actually starting to take steps before you purchase shoes. Sure, those young feet are quite delicate during the first year, but going barefoot does encourage strong, natural foot development.
In the toddler years, it will likely seem as though your child needs new shoes every few months. In fact, up until around 15 months, a child’s footwear increases by about half a size every two months. Then, from 15 months to two years, this increase may be seen every two to three months. Between two and three years, the number jumps to a half-size increase every three to four months. And then the increase is half a size every four months from three to five years.
Based on all that, if you are looking for a general rule about how often to buy shoes for your child, your son or daughter will probably go through two shoe sizes per year during the first three or four years, and then one size per year (until the feet reach physical maturity).
A big factor for shoe sizes and how often they need to be replaced is physical growth spurts. The slight problem with this is the simple fact not all children hit growth spurts at the same age. One five-year-old may go almost a year in the same shoe size before suddenly growing three sizes over the next six months. Another five-year-old might go through three sizes in one year before not needing any new shoes (on account of tightness) for the next six months.
If your son or daughter seems to be growing at either a slower or faster rate than the averages we discussed, don’t worry – variance is normal!
Further, toddlers the same age can wear shoes that are two or three sizes apart – and then end up wearing the same size a couple of years down the road.
Regarding your child’s shoes, what really matters (more than the size) is how his or her shoes actually fit. Too make sure footwear isn’t too big or too small, keep in mind there should be roughly an adult thumb’s width of space between the longest toes and the front of the shoes.
For additional information on children’s footwear, or to request an appointment at any of our three offices for professional child foot care, simply call us at one of the following numbers:
- Rego Park: (718) 896-4433
- Plainview: (516) 822-9595
- Flushing: (718) 969-2266