There has been a lot of controversy on whether babies should wear soft sole shoes or hard sole shoes. One of the most popular questions I get asked at the children’s shoe store that I work for is whether a baby that is learning how to walk needs a pair of soft sole shoes or a pair of hard 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.
While there has been a lot of back and forth between what type of shoes a baby that is learning how to walk should wear, I always recommend choosing a soft sole shoe until the child is already walking.
It’s important to understand that kids learn to take their first steps by gripping their toes on the ground. I always explain to parents that its okay to leave their kids barefooted at home to promote healthy and natural foot development.
So when should you provide your baby with his or her first pair of shoes?
As soon as you decide to take your baby outside where surfaces might be uneven, hot, cold or rocky, shoes should be worn for protection purposes mostly.
If we provide a baby that is learning how to walk with a pair of hard sole shoes we will make the learning process much more difficult. A baby that is learning how to walk doesn’t have the strength to bend a shoe that has a harder sole or that is not flexible enough.
I want to clarify that I am not saying that soft sole shoes are better than hard sole shoes, I believe that you must choose the correct type of shoes (with a soft or hard sole) depending on the walking phase that your child is going through.
Based on my experience, I can tell you with confidence that a baby that is learning how to walk will need a pair of soft sole shoes.
In this post, I will describe the best soft sole shoes for babies 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 – Which One To Choose?
There are two opposing opinions on which type of shoes a baby that is learning how to walk should wear. To me it’s very clear, a baby that is learning how to walk should always wear a soft sole shoe. I have fitted hundreds of babies that were learning how to walk and I have seen what works from actually trying the shoes on and watching how the baby reacts to them.
I have noticed how a soft sole shoe allows babies to feel the ground and find better balance when walking or running.
I believe that for a baby that is 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, a heavy sole, and a firm heel counter, your baby won’t’ need to use his or her own muscles 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 your babies feet and ankles.
Hard sole shoes are more appropriate for children who are already walking and running. Since they come with more structure and support they will help 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.
To summarize, soft sole shoes MUST be used when a child is learning how to walk, and hard sole shoes must be used when the child is already walking and running and is putting more pressure on his or her feet.
Soft Sole Shoes – What Features Should They Provide?
Now that we know what type of shoes we want for your child that is learning how to walk, let’s take a look at what features a soft sole shoe must provide.
- The shoes must be lightweight and flexible to promote and support natural foot movement.
- The shoes must be made of quality materials such as leather or mesh to allow your child’s feet to breathe comfortably.
- The shoes must provide good traction by having rubber soles that will prevent slipping or sliding.
While these are all important features that we want to find in our kids’ shoes in order to keep their feet healthy, if you don’t provide your child with the correct shoe size, he or she 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 buy their kids’ shoes online.
If you are one of these parents please take a look at a post I wrote where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size:
Now that you know what features we want to find in a soft sole shoe and how to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size, let’s take a look at a selection of the best soft sole shoes for babies.
The Best Shoes For Your First Walker – The Secret Revealed!
Just so you know, I only review shoes that I have fitted before, because that is the only way I can be familiar with how that particular shoe style fits.
The shoes I describe below are the best fitting shoes for a child that is learning how to walk and they are available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide.
Most babies that are learning how to walk will need a wide or an extra wide shoe. 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, and “XW” for extra wide.
These shoe styles fit “true to size”, which means that you need a half a size longer of the size that your baby measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
Now that you know which are the best fitting shoes for a baby that is learning how to walk you are ready to make the most informative decision.
But before you leave, I want to make sure you provide your child with the correct type of socks since these will also play a key role in keeping your kids’ feet healthy.
Socks act as a barrier between our babies’ feet and the shoes and they prevent the formation of bacteria inside the shoes as well as the formation of blisters, calluses, and corns. They also help prevent your kids’ feet getting too sweaty.
There is a type of sock that works great when it comes to keeping your kids’ feet healthy.
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 the importance of seamless socks in this post, you should take a look at an article I wrote called:
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.