When a parent brings his baby to be fitted for his first pair of shoes it is always a rewarding, but challenging experience. I want to clarify that this is one of the areas where I feel greater responsibility and conscientious effort on my part since the future health and development of the child’s foot is my personal responsibility and the parent is placing his complete trust on me.
I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for the last ten years. We specialize in children with foot and leg problems, but we also provide regular shoe fittings as well. I have fitted hundreds of babies for their first pair of shoes and I am familiar with which shoe brands and which shoe styles are better than others.
The fitting of infant’s toddler shoes is very different from the fitting of feet in any other age category. The foot is different, the shoes are different and the customer is different. A baby’s foot grows at a phenomenal rate: faster during those first three years than at any other time in life.
It is extremely important to make sure the child is fitted with the correct pair of shoes. There should be ample room for the baby to be able to move his toes inside the shoe. Have you noticed how babies are always curling and moving their toes? They do that for a reason, that is their way of exercising their feet. If we fit the baby in a shoe that is too short, or too narrow, we will be compromising his overall foot health.
Before we answer when is the right time to put shoes on a baby, I wanted to clarify that we always want him/her barefoot at home, since this is the best thing we can do to promote healthy foot development.
When Should I Put Shoes On My Baby? Find Out Here!
The main questions is: When is the right time to put shoes on your baby? If your baby is crawling and standing up with the assistance of holding into things this might be a good time for getting them their 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.
Please know that once you fit your baby with his/her first of shoes it will take them some time to adjust to the shoes. Why? They lose the sense they used to have to the ground. Let’s look at the toes for example. The toes normally play an active role in walking –if allowed to. If you walk on the grass barefoot the toes will instinctively grasp the ground, contributing not only to step propulsion but to foot balance. However, if the toes are crowded inside the shoe their natural action and contribution is limited or in more extreme cases eliminated.
Making Sure Your Baby Shoes Fit – Finding The Correct Shoe Size
Parents please make sure that you are providing your baby with the right pair of shoes; consider the importance of the future health and development of your child’s foot. These are some facts that make fitting of this footwear unique:
- You are dealing with a “beginning” foot, a foot barely formed and just starting in physical development. This is a precarious time for the family and the shoe fitter, and the chance for error yields pretty severe results. Always make sure you take your baby to get fitted at your local shoe store, where a shoe fitter will be able to measures his or her feet properly.
Avoid taking your baby for his first pair of shoes to big retailers such as Nordstrom’s, Stride Rite, or Payless, since your baby will most likely end up wearing the wrong shoe size. I have helped several children that came from those stores wearing the wrong shoe size. I wrote a post about some of these stores and why I wouldn’t take my child to be fitted for shoes there, the post is called:
- You are working with a foot that is growing at a faster rate than at any other time of life. After you fit your child for his first pair of shoes, you must keep a close eye on the way his feet are growing and constantly check to make sure he hasn’t outgrown the shoes. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself replacing your baby shoes every 3 to 3 1/2 months!
- Unlike as with adult shoes, the decision on the fit of infant’s shoes is a responsibility almost entirely in the hands of the fitter. Parents are placing their complete trust in the shoe fitter. That said, not all shoe fitters are created equal, so parents, come equipped with knowledge!
You can start by using the proper terminology. There is an official designation for “baby shoes.” It’s cacks (sizes 1 through 5).
My Baby Has The Widest Feet – I Can’t Find Shoes That Fit!
Like all other human beings, babies’ feet come in many variations: narrow, medium, wide, extra wide, long or short toes, flat or arched, etc. As a developing foot, it lacks the definitive shape of an older foot. Instead this foot is a soft, pliable form. It possesses only semi-completed bones or joints or ligaments.
The majority of baby feet that I have fitted were wide, or extra wide feet. There is not reason to panic! Most babies feet are wide since they might still carry some baby fat in them. However, you MUST find a shoe that is wide enough for his feet. If you don’t have a local kids’ shoe store in your area to take your child to be fitted for shoes, I created a post where I describe the best baby shoes for a child that is learning how to walk. The shoes I describe also come in different widths such as wide and extra wide. The post is called:
The Importance Of Allowing The Toes To Wiggle!
Your baby’s toes are constantly in action, wiggling and grasping, inside or outside the shoe, which is nature’s way of developing strength for his foot through exercise. Therefore, parents, NEVER allow the shoe OR the sock to interfere with this toe-wiggling. Until the child begins to walk, that toe action is virtually the ONLY exercise the foot will get.
You probably weren’t aware about the importance of wearing the correct pair of socks. I always explain to parents that wearing the correct pair of sock has the same importance as wearing the correct shoe size. I explained the importance of allowing your babies toes to wiggle, and if the sock is too short or has grippers in the bottom it won’t allow your child to freely move his toes. I explain more about the best socks for babies in this post:
Take a look at my suggestions below, you will probably benefit from learning them and they will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run:
- Outgrown shoes: I always try to stress to the parent that the foot grows faster during the infant stage than at any other time in life and that the importance of preventing outgrown shoes to allow for healthy foot development is extremely important if we want to allow healthy foot development.
- Sneakers: Most sneakers for this age group come in only one width (and sometimes skipping half sizes). This means that many sneakers, due to limited sizes and widths, often do not provide an adequate or proper fit. Thus, sneakers are the wrong choice for your baby’s first pair of shoes. While Nike, Adidas, Jordan, are popular brands and the shoes look cute in the baby, those shoes are not practical at all, and 90% of the time, they just DON’T fit right. PLEASE avoid putting your baby in those type of sneakers!
- Tight closure: Some co-workers and fitters believe that tight lacing should always be avoided because it can restrict foot circulation. I however believe that shoes need to be tight, and the tighter the better since it will provide your child with more stability. If your child is wearing shoes with shoe laces or velcro closure, don’t be afraid of making them tight! That’s is how they get their stability!
- Styles: In the Western world kids’ shoes noticeably vary. I’ll use the U.S. and Europe as two contrasting examples. In Europe most infants’ shoes are available in an enormous range of styles. The notion of “fashion” in infants’ shoes is extreme, as demonstrated in range of materials, patterns, and colors. Across the pond fashion is given overwhelming priority over fit, size, or functional considerations. In the United States almost the opposite is true. Fortunately, there is a limited yet adequate style range in infant footwear. Highest priority is given to proper design and fit via proper sizes, widths, and lasts for the most part in the U.S. market.
- Hose: I always try to counsel parents to be vigilant about sufficient sock length, avoiding stretch socks, which can constrict fragile infant toes. Don’t forget to read my post on the importance of wearing the right type and size of socks. That post will explain everything you need to know about getting the right sock size and the importance of seamless socks for babies.
- Price and quality: Infants’ feet grow so fast that frequent purchases of new shoes are necessary, a fact some parents may find inconvenient. Raising small children is expensive in many ways. But in the case of footwear, the parent is dealing with the child’s foot health. And the matter of risking foot development in order to “economize” becomes a false economy.
Below you can find a selection of the best fitting shoes for a child that is learning how to walk. They are made out of leather and come in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide.
These are the best infant toddler shoes that I have fitted before.
All of these shoe styles fit “true to size”, which means that you need 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.
Do you have a baby who is just starting to walk? Have you found a particular pair of shoes that works best for his or her feet? Certainly contact me via e-mail or in the comments section with further questions that I will most likely be able to answer. I will continue to post informative articles penned by me that address important topics such as this one.