Are you a new parent eagerly searching for the best shoes for babies learning to walk? Look no further! Choosing the perfect shoes for your little one's first steps is no small feat, but we've got you covered. In this article, we'll guide you on what to look for when shopping for baby walking shoes, discuss the factors to consider, and even share our top picks for the finest footwear on the market. From slip-on moccasins to playful sneakers, we've rounded up the best options to support your baby's developing feet. So, let's dive in and find the perfect pair to put a skip in your baby's step!
What to Consider When Buying Baby Walking Shoes
✔?? Wide Toe Box: Ensure that the shoe you choose has a wide toe box. This allows the toes to spread out and imitates natural barefoot walking.
✔?? Comfortable Fit: The shoe should neither be too big nor too small. In case your child is between sizes, it is better to choose the larger size. A shoe that is too tight can lead to blisters, chaffing, and overall discomfort.
✔?? Flexibility: Opt for flexible shoes that mimic the natural movements of a baby's foot. Lightweight flexible shoes prevent weighing down the baby's feet, making it easier for them to take steps.
What is the Appropriate Age for Babies to Wear Shoes?
Babies should start wearing shoes when it is necessary for protection. The suitable age for this can range from the first birthday to around 18 months old, depending on the child's development, according to Peretz.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing Baby and Toddler Shoes
When shopping for baby and toddler shoes, it's crucial to prioritize their comfort while also considering their walking and running development. Pediatrician Shannon Godsil, M.D., from Children's Physicians in Omaha, Nebraska, advises choosing lightweight and flexible shoes that promote natural foot movement and provide a stable base of support. Additionally, consider the overall design, aesthetic appeal, and convenience of wearing and removing the shoes. Look for shoes that have the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal, indicating approval by podiatrists. Dr. Valencia emphasizes that the APMA seal signifies a recommended shoe and should be taken into consideration.Ensuring a Good Fit: The most important aspect when selecting shoes is ensuring a proper fit. Dr. Godsil emphasizes that correctly fitted shoes provide grip and stability for children, aiding in their walking development. Follow these steps:
- Start by measuring their feet accurately to find the appropriate size. Measure their foot while they are standing and trace the outline of their foot on a piece of paper, measuring from the back of the heel to the tip of the second toe.
- Refer to the shoe brand's size chart and use the measurements to find the correct size, rather than basing it solely on the child's age.
- Understand the size charts in the U.S., which commonly divide sizes into various age groups such as newborn, infant, toddler, and children. Each size should have corresponding measurements in inches or centimeters on a proper shoe chart.
- To check if the shoes fit well, ensure the child stands up tall with their heel pushed against the back of the shoe. There should be enough room in the toe box for a thumb's width of growing space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. If there is less than half a thumb width of space, the shoes are too small.
Sole Flexibility and Traction: Opinions may vary on the flexibility and rigidity of shoes for babies and toddlers. Orthopedic surgeon Joseph G. Khoury, M.D., from Nemours Children's Health, recommends soft and minimally supportive shoes that allow the foot to function naturally. Dr. Khoury suggests shoes with a soft upper, a thinner sole, and the ability to twist and bend in the middle. Consider non-skid or skid-resistant options for traction, preferably with rubber soles to prevent slipping or sliding. However, avoid excessively sticky rubber soles that may hinder stability and make toddlers more prone to tripping and falling.
Support: Strike a balance between supportive and rigid shoes. Dr. Khoury advises against shoes that are too rigid as they impede the foot's natural movement during walking. Shoes should be minimally supportive and soft, with flexibility to allow for adjustment and bending.
Materials: Pay attention to the materials used in baby and toddler shoes. Look for breathable and lightweight materials like leather or mesh that allow proper air circulation. Additionally, choose shoes that are easy to clean, preferably waterproof or water-resistant. Memory foam can be beneficial, gently cushioning the foot and promoting natural movement and coordination.
Durability: Consider the durability of the shoes, as children can be rough on them. Opt for shoes made of strong materials that can withstand various outdoor conditions and extended use.
Design: Choose shoes that match your child's style and activity levels. Casual and easy-to-wear shoes are often more practical and cost-effective for everyday use. Slip-on designs are preferable for convenience and ease of putting on and taking off. Focus on wider and adjustable openings to ensure the best fit for the child's comfort and movement.
Cost: The price range for baby and toddler shoes varies, with some ranging from $20 to over . Consider the functionality and daily use of the shoes when determining how much you are willing to spend. Everyday shoes may justify a higher price, while occasional or less frequently worn shoes may warrant a lower price.
The Selection Process for the Best Baby Shoes
To curate this list of the best baby shoes, I combined inputs from two child movement experts mentioned earlier, along with my personal experience of buying shoes for my own children. Extensive research on baby foot development from reputable sources like the APMA was also undertaken.
To finalize the picks, I looked for features such as supportive heel cups, roomy and slightly flexible toe boxes, and soles that provide flexibility and support. Additionally, factors like ease of wearing and removing, washability, and cost were considered. I examined numerous online reviews for additional feedback from parents. Lastly, I included two of the best baby shoe styles recommended by my own children: Cat & Jack Parker Sneakers (budget pick) and Stonz Puffer Booties (ideal for winter).
Baby Walking Shoes We Also Tested
- Ikiki Fox Squeaky Toddler Shoes: Despite the name, these shoes are available in small sizes and come in many cute designs. However, they tend to squeak, which may be irritating for teachers and parents. Additionally, the shoes felt unstable and lacked satisfactory traction and ankle support.
- Pediped Flex Force: These shoes are flexible, lightweight, and highly breathable due to the mesh lining and upper. However, they are more suitable for toddlers than babies, as smaller sizes are designed for toddlers.
Tucker Tate Kids' Bunny Mary Jane Shoe
Best for Baby Girls
Mejale Slip-on Leather Moccasins
Best Shoes for Babies Learning to Walk
ALLBIRDS Kids' Wool Runner Sneaker
Geox Sprintye Girl
Momo Baby Unisex Soft Sole Leather Shoes
Ten Little Everyday Original
Stride Rite Girls Soft Motion Kiki 2.0 First Walker Shoe
Best for Wide Feet
HIITAVE Toddler Girl Shoes
Animal Non-Skid Indoor Slipper
Best for Indoors
ikiki Shoes Puppy Squeaky Toddler Shoes
On/Off Button for Squeaking Sounds
Converse Kids' Chuck Taylor All Star 2V Sneaker
How to measure baby and toddler shoe sizes
Getting the right fit for baby and toddler shoes (or any shoes) is crucial. Here's how to ensure your child wears the correct shoe size:
- Print a baby and toddler shoe size chart.
- Place the chart on a flat, solid surface (not on plush carpet or rugs, grass, or textured surfaces). Have your child stand and align their heel with the heel marker. Make sure their toes are relaxed and not curled under.
- Using a pen or pencil, mark where your child's longest toe reaches horizontally. Mark all the way to the inches ruler on the side. Since shoe sizes vary across brands, it's more accurate to measure in inches and compare with each brand's size guide. Note: Measure both feet in case of size differences. If one foot is larger, buy shoes to fit the larger size.
- Once your child has shoes to try on, check the fit. Have them stand while wearing the shoes and use your finger to push down on the shoe's toe box. According to the AAP, there should be about a finger-width or half-inch gap between the big toe and the front of the insole (inside the shoe).
For shoes with rigid tops, using your finger to measure your child's toes accurately may be difficult. In that case, trust your observation of how their feet look when standing. If your child seems in pain, has scrunched feet, or walks differently than usual, the shoes are likely the wrong size.
Since baby and toddler feet grow quickly, the AAP recommends checking shoe fit every month.
In conclusion, when it comes to choosing the best shoes for babies learning to walk, there are several factors to consider. It's important to look for shoes that provide proper support, flexibility, and traction, as well as shoes that are easy to put on and take off. Additionally, it's crucial to take into account the age of the baby and their individual foot measurements. After extensive research and testing, we have determined that the Tucker Tate Kids' Bunny Mary Jane Shoe, the Mejale Slip-on Leather Moccasins, and the ALLBIRDS Kids' Wool Runner Sneaker are among the top choices for baby walking shoes. These shoes not only meet the necessary criteria but also offer comfort and style. Remember, finding the perfect pair of shoes for your little one's first steps is an investment in their overall development. Happy shoe shopping!