I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for the last 10 years, working for a specialized children’s shoe store that focuses on children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. I have helped hundreds of toddlers who were learning how to walk find the perfect pair of first walking shoes.
For the last 3 years, I have been helping families find the perfect pair of shoes for their kids’ online.
Several parents have asked me what type of shoes are best for a toddler who is learning how to walk. Here is my answer:
A toddler that is learning how to walk needs a pair of lightweight and flexible shoes that come with sensory pods and soles that flex easily. If you provide your toddler that is trying to learn how to walk with a pair of shoes that are too stiff, he/she will have a much harder time learning how to walk.
Here is how and where your toddler first walking shoes should flex:
Most children start walking by 14 months, but if it’s taking a little longer for your toddler to learn how to walk do not worry. I have seen toddlers that don’t start walking until they are 16 or 17 months.
Even if your toddler is not walking yet, you may notice that your toddler is able to perform other motor skills with no problem, like standing alone, pulling up on furniture, and bouncing up and down.
One common question parents ask me is: When is the correct time to get my toddler his/her first pair of waking shoes?
This has always been a controversial matter. When your toddlers begin to lift themselves and stand on their own power (this is somewhere between the seventh and tenth month) then it might be time to get them their first pair of walking shoes.
If your toddler doesn’t walk by the age of 18 months, then it might be time to talk with your doctor.
The first pair of shoes that you provide for your toddler will play a key role in keeping your kids’ feet and legs healthy.
IMPORTANT TIP: Always allow your toddler to be barefoot at home in order to promote healthy foot development. A pair of shoes will come into play when you take your toddler outside to the playground, shopping mall, or any other place that involves being outdoors.
I always recommend parents to take their toddlers who are learning how to walk to be properly fitted for shoes at their local children’s shoe store that they trust. The issue is that most local kids’ shoe stores have been closing down, and parents don’t have a place to take their kids to be properly fitted for shoes.
If you identify with this, START by reading an article along with a video where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home:
I will show you a selection of the best shoes for toddlers learning how to walk, since I know which shoe styles will work better for them from actually having fitted the shoes myself. I want you to first start getting familiar with what features the shoes must provide in order to keep your toddlers feet healthy.
Please keep in mind that most toddlers have wide or extra wide feet, so it’s important to provide them with shoes that are wide enough for their feet. All of the shoe styles that I recommend below will be available in wide and extra wide widths.
Learning How to Walk – The Most Important Shoe Features
The most important features that the shoes must provide are for them to be lightweight, flexible, and come with sensory pods that will allow your toddler to feel the ground beneath for better traction and grip.
Please keep in mind that I only review shoe styles that I have fitted before, since that is the only way to tell how well-made the shoes are and how they fit.
Before I show you a selection of the best first walking shoes for a toddler who is learning how to walk, I want you to know what features these shoes will provide:
- Flexible soles: We need the soles of the shoes to imitate barefoot walking as much as possible, in order to make the process for your toddler who is learning how to walk much easier.
- Soft heel counter: Your toddler will be performing a lot of lateral movements when learning how to walk, you will notice him grabbing onto furniture and moving side to side. It’s important for the heel counter of the shoes to be soft and not stiff.
- Sensory Soles: Sensory pods will allow your toddler to feel the ground beneath for better traction and grip.
- Flexible rounded soles: This will encourage your toddler’s natural movement and improve his or her balance. This feature will also prevent stumbles and falls.
- Breathable: This feature will allow your toddler’s feet to breathe and prevent the formation and buildup of bacteria inside the shoes.
Did you know that most toddlers have wide to extra wide feet? The good news is that all of the shoes that I recommend below are available in wide and extra wide widths.
Best Shoes for Toddlers Learning How to Walk – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Now that you know what features the shoes must provide and how to make sure that you provide your toddler with the correct shoe size, you are ready to take a look at a selection of the best shoes for toddlers learning how to walk:
These shoe styles are available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide (so please choose the correct shoe width).
All of these shoe styles fit “true to size”, which means that you need to provide your toddler with a half a size longer of the size that he measured at the standard foot measuring tool (Brannock device), in order to allow for growing room.
The reason why I chose these 4 particular styles is because they are the best fitting types that provide all of the features a toddler needs to start learning how to walk. There are other cute shoe brands that offer first walking shoes for toddlers such as See Kai Run, Pediped, Tsukihoshi…
When it comes to a toddler that is learning how to walk, Stride Rite makes the best fitting and versatile shoes available in different widths such as wide and extra wide.
Please do not worry if once you fit your toddlers in their first pair of shoes they have a hard time walking in them. Your toddlers will lose the sense that they had to the ground, so it will feel a little strange and they might refuse to move. I just wanted to make you aware that this is totally normal.
IMPORTANT TIP: Some parents confuse Robeez with first walking shoes. Robeez and other soft soled shoes are cute and wonderful for indoor use, but won’t hold up in the elements.
The Best Socks for Toddlers – Seamless, Breathable, and Affordable!
Socks play a key role in keeping your toddler’s feet healthy, since they act as a barrier between your kids’ feet and the shoes, preventing the formation and buildup of bacteria.
There is one particular feature that I like the socks to provide and it’s for them to be seamless. Seamless socks are great for toddlers who feel every bump and lump and hate to wear socks. This feature is also important to allow your toddler’s toes to be able to move.
Did you know that toddlers move their toes as a way of exercising their feet? That’s the reason why it’s so important for the socks to not constrict toe movement.
Here you can find a selection of the best breathable and seamless socks for toddlers:
Please keep in mind that the socks need to be the correct size, just as the shoes need to be the correct size.
When trying to find the correct socks size for your child, please ignore the label the reads “sock size” or “age guidelines”.
In order to find your child’s correct sock size, you must always look under the label “shoe size” in the socks’ tags. This is the most effective way to find your child’s correct sock size.
Take a look at the two pictures below for clarification:
Now that you know which are the best shoes and socks for a toddler who is learning how to walk, you are ready to make the most informative decision!
I am always emphasizing to parents to remember one thing: It doesn’t matter how narrow or wide your kids’ feet are, there is always at least one particular shoe style out there that will fit the shape of your kids’ perfectly, and I will HELP YOU find it.
Finding the correct type of shoes online can be a quite frustrating and time-consuming process, but I am familiar with which are the best shoe brands and the best shoe styles for children, so I will make this whole process of finding your kids’ shoes online much easier.
Do you have a toddler who is learning how to walk and needs a pair of first walking shoes? Is there any particular shoe style that you have tried and has worked well for your toddler? Please let us know in the comments section below so other parents can benefit from your experiences.