One of the most popular questions I get asked at the children’s shoe store that I work for is whether babies who are learning how to walk need a pair of hard sole or soft sole shoes?
I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for ten years at a premier children’s shoe store specializing in proper fit for over forty years. We specialize in children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fitting as well. It’s important for us to carry top quality shoes that are available in different widths, since that’s the only way we can guarantee to FIT every single child.
Babies learn how to take their first steps by gripping their toes to the ground and I always recommend parents to allow their kids to be barefooted at home in order to promote healthy foot development.
But if a baby doesn’t need shoes around the house, when do shoes actually come into play?
As soon as you decide to take your child to play outside where surfaces might be uneven, hot, cold or rocky, shoes come into play and they are worn for protection purposes mostly.
Please keep in mind that I don’t recommend a pair of hard sole shoes for a child that is learning how to walk since they will make the process of learning much more complicated. A baby that is in the process of learning how to walk doesn’t have the strength to bend a shoe with a harder sole.
Just so you know, I am not saying that soft sole shoes are better than hard sole ones. Hard soles shoes are great but are more appropriate for a child that is already walking and putting pressure on the feet and legs.
If your child is learning how to walk you should provide him or her with a pair of soft sole shoes. Once your children are already walking you should look for a pair of more substantial shoes that will provide more support to their feet and legs.
In this post, I will describe the best soft sole shoes for babies that are learning how to walk and a selection of hard sole shoes for your child that is already walking. But first I want to explain you the difference between a soft sole shoe and a hard sole shoe.
Soft Sole Shoes VS Hard Sole Shoes – Choose Them Wisely!
If you ask pediatricians or physical therapists about what are the best type of shoes for your baby, they will probably tell you that there are two opposing opinions on which type of shoes a baby that is learning how to walk should wear.
Through the years, I have fitted hundreds of shoes for babies learning how to walk and I have seen what works from actually trying the shoes on and watching how the child reacts to them.
I can tell you with confidence that most babies react better to a shoe with a soft sole than a hard sole, and I believe that for a child who is still learning how to walk there is such thing as a shoe with too much structure.
If a child wears a heavy shoe that comes with a built in arch support, a heavy sole, and a firm heel counter, your child won’t’ need to use his or her own muscles to work to find balance and strength is diminished. The feet will rely too much on the strength of the shoe, which will hinder the development of muscles in the foot and ankle.
Now, if your child is already walking, a hard sole shoe will offer several benefits to your kids’ feet.
A hard sole shoe that provides good structure will help to prevent kids’ foot problems such as flat feet, pronated feet and the turning in or out of feet. A hard sole shoe will also provide more protection from harmful objects such as rocks, especially when your child is playing outside.
In conclusion, you should provide your children with a soft sole shoe when they are learning how to walk, and a hard sole shoe comes into play when children are already walking and putting more pressure on their feet.
Soft Sole Shoes – Is Your Child Learning How To Walk?
If your child is learning how to walk, you should go for a soft sole shoe that provides the following features:
- Lightweight and flexible: This will promote and support natural foot movement.
- Quality materials: Materials such as leather or mesh will mold to the shape of your kids’ feet and allow your child’s feet to breathe.
- Traction: Shoes with good traction will prevent your child from slipping or sliding specially when walking on wet surfaces.
Is it possible to find a shoe that provides all of these features?
Yes, I will show them to you but keep in mind that if you don’t provide your children with the correct shoe size, your child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer. What’s even worse, you will end up creating all sort of foot issues to your child’s feet such as blisters, calluses, and corns!
I always recommend parents to take their children to their local children’s shoe store where a shoe fitter can properly measure their feet and find shoes that FIT. However, I have been contacted by several parents that told me how they don’t have a local shoe store in their area and must end up buying their kids’ shoes online.
If you don’t have a local kids’ shoe store please START by reading a post I wrote where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to make sure your children are wearing the correct shoe size:
The Best First Walker Shoes – The Secret Revealed!
Keep in mind that I only review shoes that I have fitted before, that way I can tell you exactly how each shoe style fits and whether that particular shoe runs long, short, narrow or wide.
Let’s take a look at a selection of the best soft sole shoes for babies that are learning how to walk (these shoes are also available in different widths such as medium, wide and extra wide):
I have noticed how most babies that are learning how to walk need a pair of wide or extra wide shoes. That is the reason why the shoes that I describe above are available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide. Just choose your child’s shoe width:
- “M” for medium.
- “W” for wide.
- “XW” for extra wide.
The shoes in the first row run ” true to size” which means that you only need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale. This will allow the proper amount of growing room without getting the shoes too long or too short.
The shoes in the second row also run” true to size” which also means that you only need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale.
Hard Sole Shoes For Kids That Are Already Walking – The Secret Revealed!
If your child is already walking, you must provide him or her with a pair of more substantial shoes that they can wear for their everyday activities.
Below you can find a selection of the best shoes for a child that is already walking:
The shoes in the first row run ” true to size” which means that you only need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures at the shoe measuring scale. This will allow the proper amount of growing room without getting the shoes too long or too short.
The shoes in the second row fit “short” which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures at the shoe measuring scale. This will allow the proper amount of growing room without getting the shoes too long or too short.
Now that you know which are the best fitting shoes for a child that is learning how to walk and for a child that is already walking you are ready to make the most informative decision.
Please make sure you provide your child with the correct type of socks since they play a key role in keeping kids’ feet healthy.
Did you know that socks act as a barrier between our babies’ feet and the shoes and they prevent the formation of bacteria inside the shoe as well as the formation of blisters, calluses, and corns?
It’s important to get the correct type of socks made of the right materials in order to allow our kids’ toes to freely move and prevent them from overlapping each other.
Have you ever heard of seamless socks? They are great because they don’t constrict toe movement and they will allow your babies toes to move freely inside the socks.
This type of socks are also great for those kids that feel every bump and lump inside the shoes.While I can’t get into too much detail about this type of socks in this article, you can learn more about them here:
Do you have a children’s shoe store in your area that you TRUST? I get contacted by parents daily and they want to know whether there is a good children’s shoe store in their area, so if you do have one please let us know in the comments section below so all parents can benefit from your experience.