Hard Sole Shoes for Babies – Are They the Right Choice for Your First Walker?

One of the most popular questions I get asked at the children’s shoe store that I work for is: Do babies who are learning how to walk need a pair of hard sole or soft sole shoes? I will answer this question shortly based on my many years of shoe fitting experience, and I will also show you a list of the best hard sole shoes for babies.

Shoes You Allow Your Baby to Walk Barefoot?

Babies learn how to take their first steps by gripping their toes to the ground and I always recommend parents to allow their babies to walk barefoot at home 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 baby to play outside where surfaces might be uneven, hot, cold or rocky, shoes come into play and they are worn for protection purposes mostly. The shoes must provide a key feature to help your baby walk: sensory pods. This feature allows babies to “feel” the terrain below them, which makes them feel more stable and confident when walking.

Keep in mind that I don’t recommend a pair of hard sole shoes for a baby that is learning how to walk as they will make the whole process of learning how to walk a lot harder. 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 baby that is already walking and putting pressure on the feet and legs.

Do Most Babies Have Wide Feet?

Did you know that most babies have wide or extra wide feet? The shoes need to be available in wide widths such as wide (W) or extra wide (XW).

I will show you a selection of hard sole shoes for your baby that is already walking, and I will also show you a selection of soft sole shoes.

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 different 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 actually works for them from trying the shoes on and watching how the baby reacts to them.

I can tell you with confidence that most babies react better to a shoe with a soft sole than a hard one, and I believe that for a baby who is still learning how to walk, there is such thing as a shoe with too much structure.

If a baby wears a heavy shoe that comes with a built-in arch support, a heavy sole, and a firm heel counter, your baby won’t need to use his or her 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 baby is already walking, a hard sole shoe will offer several benefits to your baby’s feet. The first benefit is that it will minimize the impact that your baby’s feet take every time they come in contact with the ground.

The second benefit of a hard sole shoe is that it will also help prevent and treat baby’s foot problems such as flat feet, low muscle tone, or rolled ankles. A hard sole shoe will also provide more protection from harmful objects such as rocks, especially when your baby is playing outside.

In conclusion, you should provide your babies 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.

How to Retrieve Your Baby’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

I always recommend parents take their babies 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.

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. In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.

Keep in mind that I only review shoe styles that I have fitted before, that way I can tell how well-made the shoes are, the amount of support that they provide, and how they fit. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

Best Hard Sole Shoes for Babies Who Are Walking

Below you can find a selection of the best shoes for a baby that is already walking that are available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW).

Soft Sole Shoes for Babies – Is Your Baby Learning How to Walk?

If your baby is learning how to walk, you should go for a soft sole shoe that provides the following features:

1️⃣ Lightweight and flexible: This feature promotes and supports natural foot movement.

2️⃣ Quality materials: Materials such as leather or mesh will mold to the shape of your babies’ feet and allow their feet to breathe.

3️⃣ Traction: Shoes with good traction prevent babies from slipping or sliding especially when walking on wet surfaces.

4️⃣ Sensory Pods: This feature increases babies’ feel of the ground beneath them. This allows babies to stabilize their gait and better respond to their environment.

5️⃣ Round toe-toes: Most babies have wide or extra wide feet. The shoes need to come in wide and extra wide widths as well as with rounded toe-boxes to prevent the toes from overlapping or rubbing against each other.

Best Shoes for Babies Learning How to Walk

Let’s take a look at a selection of the best soft sole shoes for babies who are learning how to walk — these shoes are available in different widths such as medium (M), wide (W) and extra wide (XW).

Now that you know which are the best fitting shoes for a baby that is learning how to walk or already walking, you are ready to make the most informed decision.

Please make sure that you provide your baby with the correct type of socks as they play a key role in keeping babies’ feet healthy.

Did you know that socks act as a barrier between your babies’ feet and the shoes and they prevent the formation and buildup 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 to allow your babies’ toes to freely move and prevent them from overlapping each other. Babies move their toes as a way of exercising their feet, so it’s really important to not constrict this movement.

Have you ever heard of seamless socks before? They are great because they don’t constrict toe movement and they allow your babies’ toes to move freely inside the socks. These types of socks are also great for those kids that feel every bump and lump inside the shoes.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly at my e-mail if you have any further questions or if you need a different pair of shoes for your child. My e-mail address is:

[email protected]

Have you found a particular shoe that has worked well for your baby’s feet? Please share your findings below so other families can benefit from your experiences.