Are you looking for the perfect pair of first walking shoes for your child? Did you know that the first pair of walking shoes play a key role in helping your child walk confidently?
I am an expert when it comes to fitting children’s shoes since I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for the last 10 years, specializing in children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings well. I have fitted hundreds of children for the first pair of walking shoes, and I am familiar with which shoe brands and which shoe styles work better than others.
It’s important to understand that when your child is crawling or walking inside the house, it’s always better to allow him/her to walk barefoot. This is the BEST thing we can do to promote healthy muscle development.
Your child will ONLY need shoes when you go outside to the shopping mall, the playground, or any activity that involves your child taking steps outside the house.
One of the most common questions I get by parents is what type of shoes they need to provide for a child that is learning how to walk:
Firm, Semi-Flexible Or Soft-flexible Shoes For Your Baby?
The increasing trend or preference is for what we describe as shoes that have a “flexible” sole. This is what I also agree with since this is the natural condition of the bare foot, and infant shoe flexibility should simulate that foot.
The outsole is intended to provide what’s called “lateral stability” by offering a fairly wide base (sole with extended edges), plus a fairly firm weight bearing surface. Nevertheless, as the child lifts its heel to take a step, there must be some degree of easy flexibility at the ball to step forward without resistance from the sole. Keep in mind that your toddler, unlike older children or adults, lacks the body weight (strength) to bend a firmer sole. That is the main reason why first walking shoes are so soft and flexible!
A sole that is too soft, such as a soft-sole slipper, will not hold its shape with wear. It lacks that important quality of “lateral stability”. Your child’s first walking shoes should have a “flexible” sole that is neither rigid nor soft. The sole must retain its shape with wear. As to material, a leather sole is unquestionably the best to fulfill these functions. Shoes with leather soles are found in good quality shoes.
Before you buy your child his/he first pair of walking shoes, grab the shoes and make sure they bend in the right places just like in the picture below:
I will show you a selection of the best first walking shoes for babies who are learning how to walk. The question of durability is completely unimportant in infant shoes, since they never wear out the shoes because of how fast they grow.
You will be able to identify the best shoes for your child based on the stage that they are going through and age. If you are not sure what shoe size you need to get for your child, please take a look at an article where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home:
The Baby (9-15 months) – Learning How to Walk
During this stage the child should start becoming an independent walker. If your children are 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.
IMPORTANT TIP: we still want to allow them to be 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.
The appropriate pair of shoes at this age is what I describe as TRANSITIONS SHOES. This kind of shoes should bend in half and twist, and they should be very lightweight and most flexible so your children muscles can develop properly.
Your baby tiny toes are constantly wiggling, which is nature’s way of exercising the foot for development. Toe gripping is also essential for gait balance when the child starts to walk. Thus the obvious importance of baby shoes having ample grow room and wiggle space in the toe area.
Some parents believe that once they fit the first pair of walking shoes for their child, they will immediately start walking. Eighty percent of the time this will NOT happen. Once we fit the first pair of walking shoes, the children lose the sense that they had of the ground, so it takes longer to adjust.
I can tell you that most times after I fit children in their first pair of walking shoes, it looks like their feet were nailed down to the ground, since they will refuse to move and will stand in the same position waiting for the parents to rescue them! This is totally normal.
After a week or so of wearing the shoes, children should have no problem walking. Children will begin to learn how to balance themselves with their arms, that is the reason why they should not be holding into anything when attempting to take those first steps.
The Best First Walking Shoes for Babies ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Below you can find some of the best first walking shoes for a child that is learning how to walk:
All of these shoe styles fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go 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.
To some mothers new shoes often look giant on the baby’s foot. I often mention that baby shoes sometimes appear large to the eye, but the shoes are the right size needed for this fast-growing foot.
The Toddler (2nd – 3rd Year) – Already Walking
Since your kids are putting more pressure on their feet and legs now, they will require a shoe with harder sole that provides more support and a stiffer heel counter. Flexibility and fit remain the two most important priorities for your child. Keep in mind that it does not matter how much support a particular shoe provides, if not fitted properly it will not benefit your child’s feet in any way.
Needless to say, these progressive stages are average. Some infants arrive at them sooner or later, which is quite normal.
The fit and design of the shoe during those first three years is more important than at any other time in life. That’s because of the fragile nature of the young foot, plus the constant activity of the toes within the shoe.
Here you can find a selection of the best shoes for toddlers who are already walking. The shoes below will fit a toddler that has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet (choose the width accordingly).
This first selection of shoes fit “short”, which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
The Child (4th– 13th year) – Shoes for Older Children
Throughout the ages of 4 to 18 of juvenile growth and development, feet are subjected to enormous stress not experienced by the average adult foot. For example, the adult walks at a rhythmic pace and with a repeated gait pattern. The child, however, walks, runs, stomps, slides and skids, climbs, kicks, twists, comes to sudden stops.
Between these years the child’s natural foot growth is accompanied by a progressive “solidifying”. The bones become harder (ossified) and larger and their ends reach out toward other bones to form their respective joints. The muscles, tendons and ligaments are acquiring increasing strength through the natural vigorous activity of the child’s foot, and the arch is taking firmer shape.
By about age 13, the bones and joints have pretty much completed their ossifying mission, though for the next five years these will still show growth and increasing strength.
These are natural activities and foot motions for a healthy child. But these actions impose inordinate stress, torsions and other strains on the foot. They also impose extraordinary abuse on the footwear. This is why unusual care must be taken not only with the fit of the shoes, but also the type of shoes you choose for your child.
These factors make it evident that the design, construction and fitting of children’s shoes involve very special skills and attention.
You should take a look at an article I wrote an article where I describe the best shoe brands and the best shoe styles for older children, since it shows the most durable shoe styles that also come in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide. Go to the link below:
The Best Socks for Children ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Did you know that getting the right socks for your child has the same importance as getting the correct pair of shoes? Socks play a key role in keeping your kids’ feet healthy. A sock that is too tight will restrict toe movement, and might also make your child toes more prone to overlapping each other.
It is important to provide your baby with a pair of seamless socks, since this type of socks allow the toes to freely move. I created a post where I explain the importance of socks and whether it is appropriate to use grippers socks for babies or not. The post is called:
Do you know how fast kids’ are suppose to grow? Do you know when it is the right time to check if your child needs new shoes? I wrote a post where I describe how long should kids’ shoes last depending on their ages. The post is called:
Has your child been trying to walk on his/her own?Is your child ready for his/her first pair of walking shoes? Please share your thoughts and experiences that way we can all benefit it from them. I will continue to post informative articles penned by me that address important topics such as this one.