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First Walking Shoes – Picking The Perfect First Shoes

Baby Boy First Walking Shoes

I will start this post by explaining that the best thing that you can do for your baby is to have him/her walk barefoot at home. This is the BEST thing we can do to promote healthy muscle development. You will ONLY need shoes for your baby once you take him/her outside to the shopping mall, the playground, or any activity that involves your baby taking steps outside the house.

Firm, Semi-Flexible Or Soft-flexible Shoes For Your Baby?

Infants first walking shoes have been a long controversial question among doctors and shoe-men alike. The increasing trend or preference is for what we describe as shoes that have a “flexible” sole. This is what I also agree with since this is the natural condition of the bare foot, and infant shoe flexibility should simulate that foot.

The outsole is intended to provide what’s called “lateral stability” by offering a fairly wide base (sole with extended edges), plus a fairly firm weight bearing surface. Nevertheless, as the child lifts its heel to take a step, there must be some degree of easy flexibility at the ball to step forward without resistance from the sole. Keep in mind that the infant, unlike older children or adults, lacks the body weight(strength) to bend a firmer sole. That is the main reason why baby shoes are so soft and flexible!

Baby's First Walking Shoes

A sole that is too soft, such as a soft-sole slipper, will not hold its shape with wear. It lacks that important quality of “lateral stability”.Your baby’s first walking shoes should have a  “flexible” sole that is neither rigid nor soft. The sole must retain its shape with wear.  As to material, a leather sole is unquestionably the best to fulfill these functions. Shoes with leather soles are found in good quality shoes.

I will describe the best shoes for a baby who is learning how to walk below. The question of durability is completely unimportant in infant shoes, since they never wear out the shoes because of how fast they grow. Do you know how fast kids’ are suppose to grow? Do you know when it is the right time to check if your child needs new shoes? I wrote a post where I describe how long should kids’ shoes last depending on their ages. The post is called:

How Fast Do Kids Feet Grow – Learn About When You Should Replace Your Kids’ Shoes

The Baby (9-15 months)

During this stage the child should start becoming an independent walker. If your child is crawling and standing up with the assistance of holding into things this might be a good time for getting him his first pair of shoes. REMEMBER: we still want to have them barefoot at home. The idea of a pair of shoes is for when you take them to a playground, the shopping mall or any activity that requires stepping foot outside the house.

The appropriate pair of shoes at this age is what I describe as TRANSITIONS SHOES. This kind of shoes should bend in half and twist, and they should be very light and most flexible so your children muscles can develop properly.

Your baby tiny toes are constantly wiggling, which is nature’s way of exercising the foot for development. Toe gripping is also essential for gait balance when the child starts to walk. Thus the obvious importance of baby shoes having ample grow room and wiggle space in the toe area.

Did you know that getting the right socks for your baby has the same importance as getting the correct pair of shoes? Socks play a huge role in keeping our kids’ feet healthy. A sock that is too tight will restrict toe movement, and might also make your babies toes more prone to overlaping each other. It is important to provide your baby with a pair of seamless socks, since this type of socks allow the toes to freely move. I created a post where I explain the importance of socks and when is appropriate to use grippers socks for babies. The post is called:

The Importance Of Wearing Socks – Grippers Or No Grippers?

Some parents believe that once you fit the first pair of baby shoes the child will immediately start walking. Eighty percent of the time this will NOT happen. Once we put the first pair of shoes the child loses the sense he had to the ground so it takes him longer to adjust.

I can tell you that most times after I fit a baby with his first pair of shoes he looks like I nailed his feet down to the ground, since he will refuse to move and will stand in the same place waiting for the parents to rescue him! After a week or so of wearing the shoes, babies should have no problem walking. The infant will balance itself with his arms, that is the reason why they should not be holding into anything when attempting to take those first steps.

Below you can find some of the best fitting shoes for a child that is learning how to walk:

All of these shoe styles fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale (Brannock device), in order to allow for growing room.

To some mothers new shoes often look giant on the baby’s foot. I often mention that baby shoes sometimes appear large to the eye, but the shoes are the right size needed for this fast-growing foot.

The Toddler (2nd – 3rd Year)

Since your child is on his feet all day now putting pressure on the feet, he will require a harder sole shoe with more support and a stiffer heel counter. Flexibility and fit remain the two most important priorities for your child. Keep in mind, it does not matter how much support a shoe provides, if not fitted properly it will not benefit your child’s feet in any way.

Needless to say, these progressive stages are average. Some infants arrive at them sooner or later, which is quite normal. The fit and design of the shoe during those first three years is more important than at any other time in life. That’s because of the fragile nature of the young foot, plus the constant activity of the toes within the shoe.

Measuring Foot Size

The Child (4th– 13th year)

Throughout the ages of 4 to 18 of juvenile growth and development, feet are subjected to enormous stress not experienced by the average adult foot. For example, the adult walks at a rhythmic pace and with a repeated gait pattern. The child, however, walks, runs, stomps, slides and skids, climbs, kicks, twists, comes to sudden stops.

These are natural activities and foot motions for a healthy child. But these actions impose inordinate stress, torsions and other strains on the foot. They also impose extraordinary abuse on the footwear. This is why unusual care must be taken not only with the fit of the shoes, but also the type of shoes you choose for your child.

I always recommend taking your children to your local kids’ shoe store to have his feet properly measured by a shoe fitter. If you don’t have a store in your area that you trust, I wrote a post about the best kids’ shoes that you might benefit from reading, since it shows the most durable shoe styles that also come in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide. The post is called:

The Best Kids Sneakers – Learn About The Best Shoes For Children Ages 3 Through 10

Between these years the child’s natural foot growth is accompanied by a progressive “solidifying”. The bones become harder (ossified) and larger and their ends reach out toward other bones to form their respective joints. The muscles, tendons and ligaments are acquiring increasing strength through the natural vigorous activity of the child’s foot, and the arch is taking firmer shape. By about age 13, the bones and joints have pretty much completed their ossifying mission, though for the next five years these will still show growth and increasing strength.

These factors make it evident that the design, construction and fitting of children’s shoes involve very special skills and attention.

Has your child been trying to walk on his/her own?Is your child ready for his/her first pair of walking shoes? Please share your thoughts and experiences that way we can all benefit it from them! I will continue to post informative articles penned by me that address important topics such as this one.


I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kid’s feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kids’ feet and get my guide for free: The 5 Most Common Mistakes Parents Make when Buying Their Kids’ Shoes

22 Comments on First Walking Shoes – Picking The Perfect First Shoes

  1. This was a really helpful article with information that I feel we often overlook with small children. I feel as though a lot of parents with infants could benefit from this article. Additionally, the content is so thorough, that I can tell the author is really an expert in finding the right pair of shoes for any individual.

  2. Dear Juan,

    The baby picture at the top of this Blog Post of yours is very cute. You bring a ton of good points here, that it is often most beneficial as a baby takes their few steps is to walk barefoot. Aside from the home, would taking them to the beach to walk on the sand help too?

    The way I see it is that sometimes the floor could be slippery and the sand could potentially cushion them a bit if they fall.

    You are right in saying that it is best for the child to wear a set of shoes by the time they go to the shop or other areas.

    My parents often walk barefoot at home but I often find myself wanting to wear slippers at home. It is because as a child I had a piece of glass half an inch that sucked its way inside my foot and it stayed there for 3 years.

    I shall surely convey this Blog Post of yours to a couple friends of mine who are first time parents recently. 🙂

    Wishing you all the best with your online success above and beyond the horizon,


    • Angel,

      You actually bring an interesting point about babies walking on the sand. My take on this is that as long as there are not any elements in the sand(glass, shelves, pebbles, etc) there will be no problem of them walking on it. Any surface that is clean will be okay. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I was searching for information about by 14 month old who started walking about a month ago. He does go barefoot around the house so we have done that right, but when we went to Clarks to buy shoes, they suggested some really quite hard bottomed ones, which he really does struggle to walk in as he is in barefoot most of the time. Do you think I should change these then?

    • Ruth,
      Congratulations to your son on taking those first steps, like I mentioned in my post they are always the hardest. You have done the right thing by having him walk barefoot around the house and please continue doing so. I only recommend taking children to independent stores, these tend to have the most experienced shoe fitters. Is he stable when he walks? Is he on his feet most of the time? If he is, then he does need hard bottomed shoes to provide him with good support, since he is putting pressure on his feet. My main concern is whether his shoes were properly fitted,shoes that are too long or too short might also be the cause why he is struggling to walk.

  4. Thank you for your info Juan! It was really good to learn more about the main points to consider when thinking about children’s shoes. Your article made a lot of sense!
    The idea of having the tot in bare feet as much as possible at home was great to hear and again, made natural sense. Don’t think I’ve ever heard of the theory of the child walking as soon as they are put in shoes! What you say about them being ‘confused’ by them and freezing up brings back some very vague memories of trying to get used to sandals as a kid. …It’s just not natural at first is it!
    A fantastic and helpful article thanks a lot!

  5. Nice article. I can relate to this. I have a 10 month old daughter she is not walking yet. But she is crawling and standing up on things a lot with ease, I know she will be walking soon I actually cant wait to see that day were she is just walking around. I am going to get her some shoes as well. Nice article keep up the good work I really learned a lot here.

  6. Hey Juan, great post with very relevant information. I totally agree with you that leather soles are the best for baby’s first shoes. Here in South Africa is a brand of baby shoes called Pitta-Patta and they are amazing for baby’s first shoes just very expensive of course.
    I never considered that children are very hard on their feet, it makes perfect sense though reading your explanation of how kids jump, skid and bounce all over the place. My daughter just turned 4 years old and I am struggling to find a pair of hardy shoes. She loves all the pretty sandals but they last like 2 weeks with her!

    • Lynne,
      I will do further research on that brand you mention. I am sure she loves the pretty looking sandals, she must be a fashionista. Keep in mind those pretty looking shoes might not always be the most supportive ones, specially if she is going through them so fast.Thank you for stopping by.

  7. This is the exact article I should have had 11 years ago with my first born son up until now when picking the types of shoes for him to wear.The good news is I have a one year old daughter and 6 year old daugther to use this wonderful information for when selection their footwear.Was wondering if you have any info in regards for picking out what type of clothes to wear for each season?

    Yours Truly,

  8. First of all what a really nice site. It’s so genuine it seems as though you really care for small childrens’ well-beings which creates trust for many parents out there. I do not have any children but I have been raising a now 8-month old girl who loves to walk around in her little walker. I believe it is time to take her outside rather than keep her secluded in the house. I’ll be sure to mention your article to my sister(her mother) so that she can better choose the right booties for baby. Thanks for creating this!

    • I am glad you found the post informative. I do love and enjoy the opportunity to work around children and I always make sure they leave the store with the best pair of fitting shoes.

  9. Great article for new parents! What type of shoe do you recommend for a teen who’s feet turn in? He’s a bit pigeon toed 🙂

  10. Hi and thanks for the helpful tips. 2 questions though, do you recommend shoes with some sort of arch support for toddlers? Also, when buying shoes for toddlers, I tend to want to buy slightly bigger shoes to allow free toes movement and also they grow so fast. Is there a leeway guide on how much bigger the shoes you can buy because if you buy too big a size, I am afraid the little ones might trip.

    • Norman,

      Don’t confuse toddler shoes with infant shoes. The page you are reviewing describes infants shoes and these do not provide any sort of arch support. The baby’s shoe has one fundamental function: to provide a simple protective housing for the foot to allow the foot to “walk” and develop in its own natural way

      For toddlers (a child that is bettwen 2 to 3 years old) the shoes have definitely more support but not a pronounce arch.

      Do not buy shoes that are too long. You might be thinking that you are saving money but it is actually the opposite. You will be compromising your child stability and make him/her more prone to falling and hurting themselves.There should be ½” of space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the inside of the shoe. Thank you for sharing.

  11. My daughter was most of the time barefoot at home. She started walking on her own at 10months. I agree that shoes hinder their ability to take control of their balance. Putting on shoes too early will give certain restrictions because they don’t feel the ground as normal as they would feel it when they are not wearing shoes. Therefore, the delay in walking on their own. I started letting my daughter wear a soft soled shoes everytime we are out but at home, barefoot is the most advised.

    • Pitin,

      Having our children walk barefoot at home is the best thing we can do for them in order to promote healthy foot development. Putting shoes too early won’t restrict them in any sort of way, we just won’t use the shoes at home, we will just use them as foot protection when they go outside.

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