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Best Baby Shoes for New Walkers
Updated on
December 6, 2023

Best Baby Shoes for New Walkers

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Best Baby Shoes for New Walkers.
Best Baby Shoes for New Walkers

There’s no shortage of baby shoes out there. From soft-soled or hard-soled to sandals and sneakers, there’s a shoe style that’ll look cute on any kiddo. But if your little one has just started walking, certain shoes are going to be better for their foot development.

There are fewer brick-and-mortar stores for babies in the US nowadays, so it can be a challenge to find somewhere to get proper foot measurements done and ensure your little one is wearing the correct shoes for their foot size and developmental stage. To make up for that, we’ve gathered expert sources to guide you to the right shoes for your baby or toddler. We’ve also created a printable chart to help you measure their shoe size at home (especially if you’re ordering shoes online).

Disclaimer: The recommendations in this article are for babies and toddlers without physical developmental delays or mobility aids. If your child requires special recommendations for shoes due to physical differences, please consult their pediatrician.

When do babies start wearing shoes?

Right around their first birthday, or once they’ve started walking. Once your baby has started taking those first steps, it’s a good idea to at least start thinking about shoes. Shoes aren’t necessary for learning to walk, though. In fact, “the best way for a baby to learn to walk is barefoot,” says Dr. Tracey Agnese, pediatrician, mom and supporter of new parents. “The only reason for shoes while learning to walk is to protect their feet from harm when outside.”

And as cute as they are, baby shoes aren’t really necessary if they aren’t walking yet. So try to resist the urge to put shoes on your two-month-old (unless it’s for adorable photo shoots, of course), since constant shoe-wearing can harm their foot development. “For foot development, bare feet or socks is best,” Dr. Agnese says. “So as baby’s feet are growing and developing, it’s best to not confine them in shoes.”

If your baby isn’t walking just yet and you’re worried about their feet being cold, booties are a great option. They’re basically really thick socks, and they’re flexible enough to ensure baby’s feet still develop naturally even with daily wear. But even in really cold climates, booties with extra socks underneath should be all you put on a younger baby’s feet.

How to choose baby walking shoes

Look for baby shoes with these features:

  • Comfortable (the correct size)
  • Nonskid rubber sole
  • Soft, flexible sole (You should be able to bend the shoe in half, touching toe to heel, but the sole should still be thick enough to protect against rocks and sharp objects.)
  • Velcro straps
  • Firm yet flexible heel cup
  • Wide toe box
  • Slight rise in the toes
  • Pull loop at the back

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the two most important things when buying baby and toddler shoes are comfort (we’ll tell you how to ensure a good fit in a moment) and nonskid rubber soles (to prevent slips and falls).

They also advise not spending too much money on baby and toddler shoes, since they’ll likely outgrow them within just a couple of months. (Your kiddo’s feet will grow fast up through age two, and even then they won’t slow down by much.)

Remember that barefoot is best, but “if you cannot let your walking baby go barefoot, choose a soft, flexible-sole shoe to provide protection while still giving many of the benefits of being barefoot, like being able to move and bend the foot easily,” Dr. Agnese says.

Additionally, as pediatric physical therapist Kailee Noland (AKA The Movement Mama) suggests her blog, the best toddler shoes should have velcro straps for adjustability (and for helping with your toddler’s independence), a firm yet flexible heel cup, a wide toe box with a slight rise and a pull loop at the back for helping your toddler get their feet in.

Soft-soled shoes vs. hard-soled shoes for babies and toddlers

Soft-soled shoes are lightweight and flexible, making them better for new walkers as they get used to balancing and positioning their feet on the ground. These aren’t to be confused with soft-soled moccasins or booties; soft-soled shoes that are appropriate for walking babies and younger toddlers have a firm heel cup and soles that are thick enough to protect little feet from sharp or rough objects.

Hard-soled shoes are heavier, rigid and typically have thicker soles. They should be avoided for new walkers because the rigidity can impair foot development and make it harder to learn to walk. Hard-soled shoes are better for providing more stability once your toddler has started running, jumping and climbing, Noland writes.

How to measure baby and toddler shoe sizes

Getting a proper fit is the most important thing when choosing baby and toddler shoes (or any kind of shoes, for that matter). Here’s how to make sure your child is wearing the right size shoes:

  1. Print out a baby and toddler shoe size chart.
  2. Place the chart on the ground on a flat, solid surface (not plush carpet or rugs, grass or other textured surfaces). Have your child stand and place their bare foot on the chart, aligning their heel with the heel marker at the bottom. Make sure their toes are relaxed, not curled under.
  3. Using a pen or pencil, mark horizontally where your child’s longest toe lands. Mark all the way to the inches ruler on the side; since shoe sizes can vary across different brands, it’s more accurate to check your child’s shoe size according to inches and compare that to each brand’s size guide. Note: Be sure to measure both feet in case there’s a size difference. If one foot is larger than the other, buy shoes to fit the larger size.
  4. Once your kiddo has shoes to try on, check how they fit. Have your child stand while wearing the shoes, then use your finger to push down on top of the shoe’s toe box. The AAP recommends about a finger-width or half-inch gap between the tip of the big toe and the front of the insole (inside the shoe).

Shoe Size Chart - Inline

For shoes with more rigid tops, it may be tough to use your finger to get an accurate measurement of your child’s toes. In that case, “trust your gut,” Noland says, and “observe how they look [when] standing.” If your little one seems to be in pain or has their feet scrunched, or if the way they walk in the shoes seems different from how they would normally walk, then the shoes are likely the wrong size.

And since baby and toddler feet grow so quickly, the AAP recommends checking how shoes fit once every month.

The Best Baby and Toddler Shoes for New Walkers

Ten Little 
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