Kids' Sock Guide

While you may put more energy into finding the best shoes for your kids, selecting the right sock styles is just as important. The perfect kids’ socks protect small feet and make their shoes feel even more comfortable. Use this guide to help you shop for the right sizes, styles and types of socks for your little ones.

Defining the sizes

There’s certainly more to selecting a pair of kids' socks than choosing fun designs with wacky prints – although that’s a very enjoyable part of the process! Choosing the right sock begins with finding the perfect size. 

If your children’s feet feel uncomfortable in their socks and shoes, then their movement may be restricted. That's why you don't want socks that are too big or too small – you want them to fit just right.

Use the following guidelines to pick the appropriate sock size based on the shoe size your child’s wears:

size age
3-7 12-24 mos
7-10 2-4 yrs
10-13 4-6 yrs
13-4 7-10 yrs
4-8 11+ yrs

How to size socks

If you’ve ever pulled on a pair of socks that didn't feel right, you could simply pull them off and put on another pair. Children don’t always vocalize these discomforts, so it’s up to you to make sure that they fit properly.

The perfect pair of socks should cradle the foot in the right way. Check that the sock’s heel meets your child’s heel. If it’s too high up, then the sock is likely too large for your little one’s foot. If the heel appears underneath their foot, then the sock is too small. The material should also sit flush to the foot without bunching up anywhere. This is particularly important when children put their shoes on, as a loose sock could easily feel uncomfortable if it sags inside the shoe. Finally, inspect the seam of the socks’ toes. They should sit directly over the tops of your child’s toes for a clean, smooth finish.

Sock styles

Once you’ve determined the most appropriate kids’ sock sizes, it’s time to select a few sock styles that best suit your child’s lifestyle. As you shop, you'll notice there are many varieties available. Each style serves a specific purpose and is designed with different needs in mind:

  • Crew cut socks

    The crew cut sock is one of the most common styles. It’s designed to provide ample coverage of the ankle and extend upward approximately halfway up the calf. Whether you’re seeking athletic or dress socks for your child, the crew cut style works for both with an easy, comfortable fit.

  • No-show ankle socks

    No-show ankle socks sit just below the ankle. They’re popular because they essentially become “invisible” once your child puts on shoes, as the opening of the shoe usually conceals the sock. Often favored in athletic settings, no-show ankle socks make great options for everyday casual attire, perfect for gym class and playing in the park.

  • Knee-high socks

    Sometimes known as trouser socks, knee-high socks feature a built-in elastic element along the opening so they stay in place once they're pulled up. This noteworthy feature is crucial for active children who constantly find themselves tugging on loose socks as they're running and playing.

  • Quarter socks

    Higher than ankle socks but shorter than crew cut socks, quarter socks rise to about an inch above the ankle. With elastic to keep them from slipping down, quarter socks give you the classic athletic look of a shortened crew cut with the convenience of the ankle sock for everyday wear. Find quarter socks in a variety of fun colors and designs for boys and girls.

  • Boot socks

    Boot socks are essential when winter arrives and you swap those frequently worn sneakers and slip-ons for more weather-friendly boots. Ideal for keeping kids' toes warm on chilly days, these socks usually feature a thicker fabric and are typically long enough to extend along the full shaft of the boot.

Types of socks

In addition to selecting a style, you also need to find the right type of socks for your little ones. Learn more about the variety of sock types for a better understanding of the options available for children:

  • Athletic socks

    If you've got active kids who are constantly on the move, purpose-driven athletic socks often use thicker materials to support a busier lifestyle. Many include cushioning on the sides to increase kids' comfort when they run around the basketball court or playground. Look for moisture-wicking capabilities within the sock material to absorb sweat and help prevent odor.

  • Dress socks

    Dress socks are usually designed with thinner fabrics and reserved for special occasions. Most kids’ varieties, however, are still thick enough to provide the comfort and coverage that little feet need. Find dress socks in a variety of lengths that range from crew cut to knee-high and neutral colors like black, navy and brown.

  • No-slip

    For little ones who are just gaining their leg strength, developing motor skills and learning how to balance, walking requires socks designed for their new, more active lifestyle. No-slip grip socks are ideal for busy little boys and girls navigating floors for the first time. If your little one is just learning to walk, choose socks with rubber added to the bottoms of the soles for just enough traction to enhance stability and prevent slippage. Because of their innovative design, they’re ideal to wear both inside and outside.

  • Fun socks

    Socks with themes and designs are a must for most children. Immensely popular crazy socks for kids feature vibrant colors, vivacious designs and energetic prints. Kids love showing off the fun sock patterns and motifs, and parents love that they pair well with casual dresses, jeans, skirts and shorts. Find everything from stripes to florals to animal prints for socks that complement your kiddo's colorful personality.

  • Seasonal themes

    Sometimes, the season's weather and holidays may influence the sock patterns and styles you choose. Wow your kids with designs that pop during special times of the year. Pick brightly colored socks with holiday-inspired motifs for Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Independence Day. Add a few pairs of themed socks to your child's wardrobe for an easy way to get them excited for the season while expanding their sock options at the same time.

    It’s not just the fun prints that you need to think about, though. You also need to consider the type of weather that comes with each season. For wintertime, look for thick and fluffy seasonally themed socks that provide warmth and coziness as the temperatures drop. On the other hand, you'll want lighter, cooler socks for spring and summertime. The key is to select socks that provide the right coverage without sacrificing comfort, style, or fun.

Sock shopping for your little one

There are many considerations to make as you embark on sock shopping for your child. Whether it’s a pair of cozy booties for baby or choosing the most comfortable toddler socks, you need to focus on both fit and style. Your child’s lifestyle is an important factor, too. Durability, comfort and construction play a particularly vital role in socks' functionality. Inspect the socks while your child is wearing them to ensure a proper fit, and then consider additional features like design and pattern.

Now that you know what to look for, explore the large selection of boys' and girls' socks at Stride Rite to find the best socks for your kids.