When your child is first learning how to walk, shoes serve one but one very important purpose: to protect to your kid’s feet. From the day your baby starts crawling around the corner of your living room to the day that they start taking their first few steps, it is important to consider the shoes shoes you will provide for your little walker.
Your child who is learning how to walk only needs to be wearing shoes when you take them to the playground or to pre-school. However, when you are at home your baby doesn’t need to wear shoes to allow for healthy foot development. Several pediatricians and physical therapists who refer their patients to our store agree with this.
The foot is a complicated structure comprised of 26 bones designed to provide support for the entire body, to adjust to uneven surfaces and to absorb shock with every step. Baby feet contain more cartilage than bones. Though the feet are likely to develop completely by the age of 2, the bones don’t develop and harden entirely until around your child’s 18th birthday.
I have been fitting children shoes for over 7 years now, and I work for a children’s shoe store that specializes in children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular fitting as well. I handle approximately 200 fittings per week.
My recommendation for parents is to look for stretchy, non-skid or skid-resistant soles for their babies’ shoes. This is because children should wear shoes that are flexible that allow the feet to bend and move as though they were barefoot. The shoes need to be flexible instead of provide rigid support.
Making sure that the shoes you provide for your kids feet are the perfect size, and not too large or too small, is also essential. Shoes that are too small hinder the proper growth of the foot, diminishing blood circulation, causing painful blisters, ingrown toenails, calluses, corns, and many other foot problems.
Shoes that are too big can also cause blisters on your children’s feet and prevent them from being maintaining grip on the ground properly when running or climbing. Shoes that are too large will also compromise your baby’s stability, making him or her more prone to falling down!
New-born babies don’t really need shoes. The function of shoes for the new-born is to provide warmth and protection. I wrote a post where I describe the best shoes for new-born babies in more detail here:
In this post, I describe the best shoes for babies learning how to walk!
What Type Of Shoes Should You Provide For Your Baby?
There are certain types of shoes that you should look for when you are selecting shoes for your pre-walker or early-walking child. The one that tops the list are flexible non-slip soles. You must check that the toe of the shoe can be bend up to 40 degrees easily. You also need a shoe with a sole that grips so your child does not slip and fall.
Non-skid leather or rubber, especially ones with bumps and grooves, will prevent your baby from slipping as they continue to learn how to walk. The shoes that you choose for your child must be padded around the heel area to minimize rubbing and guarantee comfort.
The upper part of the shoe should be of a soft, breathable material that won’t cut into the foot. The bottom of the sole should be made out of rubber, which is the best material to prevent slips on the floor. Without a doubt, you want to protect your child’s feet when you two have gone outside or when it is cold.
The shoes that you choose for your child should be easy to put on your baby’s feet. However, they should not be so easy that they will loosen their shoes on their own, especially when your baby starts exploring.
What Type Of Materials Should The Shoe Be Made Of?
Baby shoes should be lightweight and flexible to allow the feet to move naturally with a stable base of support. They should be made out of leather mesh to allow your child’s feet to breathe comfortably. Materials like leather and canvas are amazing for kids’ shoes because they are sturdy and breathable and flexible at the same time.
These types of shoes stretch and soften with wear, which is ideal for an active, growing foot. When choosing shoes for your little one, try avoiding plastic materials because the shoes will not breathe or stretch and will worsen sweaty feet. Besides making your babies feet sweat more, plastic can create other foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.
Why Do My Baby’s Feet Sweat So Much? – STOP The Sweat!
Babies feet tend to sweat a lot.Kids’ feet sweat about 2 to 3 times more than adult feet! This is one reason why kids’ shoes wear down faster than those of adults. However, sweat is not a concern only for the durability of the shoes but also for the health of your children’s’ feet.
Sweaty feet are vulnerable to several foot fungus, rashes and infections. This is why you must highly consider providing your child with breathable shoes, which allow the moisture and heat to escape from your children’s feet, letting cool air in!
The type of socks you provide for your baby also play a key role in preventing his or her feet from sweating so much. You must look for breathable materials to allow the feet to breathe. Look for socks that are seamless for your child to be comfortable. I describe this in more detail in this post:
Where Can I Get My Baby Shoes? – FIT Is The Most Important Thing!
You should have your baby’s shoes professionally fitted – which should include measuring each foot for length and width. Try updating their shoe size every 3 months as children’s feet grow very rapidly. Always make sure your baby shoes are not too tight since tight shoes can alter your child’s gait and cause ingrown toenails or bunions.
I always recommend that parents take their babies to a local children’s shoe store that they trust, esspecially when it comes to fitting their first pair of shoes. Several parents have contacted me asking where they can get baby shoes, since they don’t have a local shoe store in their area. For those parents, I describe the best shoes for babies learning how to walk below.
Look for shoes that have a soft, skid-proof sole to allow the muscles and arches to develop naturally and give the child control over their movements. You may want to get a pair of shoes that has shoe laces or velcro, something that will not allow your child’s foot to ‘slide out’.
Hand-Me-Down Shoes For Your Baby? – DON’T Do It!
You may find “high quality”, “gently-used” kids’ shoes at consignment stores or some similar stores. However, shoes for young kids take a beating and are best as “single-user” items. The shoes tend to take the shape of the previous child’s foot who wore them, so, please, don’t provide your child with second-hand or used shoes.
It is always better to buy the cheapest new shoes than to provide your child with hand-me-down shoes. I wrote a post about hand-me-down shoes for kids, describing the few types of footwear might be appropriate to hand-down. You can find that post here:
When you are shopping for your baby’s shoes, it is easy to become confused by an universe of sophisticated shoe brands. However, keep in mind that babies grow at such a rapid rate that everything they own is basically disposable. Wise parents know what the right questions to ask themselves when shopping for the baby shoes. When looking for your baby shoes, you must look for some basic criteria – Are they easy to put on? Do they provide enough support? Do they seem comfortable? And finally, almost as an afterthought, do they look nice? When you have answered these questions, Bingo!
Watching your baby take his or her first steps is probably one of the happiest and proudest moments that a parent cherishes for a lifetime– though things do get a little more hectic once our kiddos are mobile!
Below, you can find a selection of the best shoes for babies who are learning how to walk!
Have you found a particular shoe style that works well for your child who is learning how to walk? Did you know that baby shoes come in different widths such as wide and extra wide? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so we can all benefit from them!