There is an abundance of infant footwear on the market today. The kid in your life can look adorable in any pair of shoes, from sandals to sneakers, from shoes with soft soles to shoes with hard soles. However, there are shoes that will be better for your child's foot development if he or she has just started walking.
With fewer traditional baby stores in the United States, it can be difficult to find a place to have your child's feet measured and buy shoes that are appropriate for their age and development. To make up for it, we've compiled advice from a variety of experts to help you choose the best footwear for your infant or toddler. We've also made a printable chart so you can figure out their shoe size at home (which is especially helpful if you're buying shoes online).
The advice in this article is intended for healthy infants and toddlers who are not using any special equipment for their mobility. Please consult your child's pediatrician for advice on appropriate footwear if he or she has any physical differences.
When should infants begin donning footwear?
As soon as they are able to walk, usually around the time they turn one. The time to start considering shoes is when your baby is taking their first steps. Learning to walk does not require shoes. In fact, pediatrician, mom, and new parent advocate Dr. Tracey Agnese says, "the best way for a baby to learn to walk is barefoot." When children are first learning to walk, shoes should only be worn outside for the sole purpose of protecting their developing feet from potential dangers. ”
Even though they're adorable, infants who aren't yet walking don't need to wear shoes. Constant shoe-wearing can harm the development of a baby's feet, so try to resist the temptation to put shoes on your two-month-old (except for cute photo shoots, of course). To promote healthy foot growth, Dr. Agne says "Therefore, it is best not to restrict a baby's feet as they develop and grow by placing them in shoes." ”
Booties are a great way to keep your baby's feet warm if he or she isn't mobile just yet. They're essentially thick socks, and the pliability helps a baby's feet grow normally even while wearing them all the time. However, even in extremely cold climates, only booties and additional socks should be used on a younger baby's feet.
Tips for Buying Infant Walking Shoes
When shopping for infant footwear, keep an eye out for these details:
- Easy to relax in; just the right size.
- Shoes with a nonslip rubber outsole
- Sole should be soft and bendable (the shoe should touch the ground from toe to heel when bent in half) but thick enough to provide protection from rocks and other sharp objects. )
- The use of Velcro for straps
- The heel cup is firm but pliable.
- Deep heel cup
- Toes slightly pointed upwards
- Back-zipper pull loop.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents look for nonskid rubber soles and a snug fit when purchasing shoes for infants and toddlers.
They also warn against spending too much on infant and toddler footwear because these feet will outgrow them so quickly. (Until about age 2, your child's feet will develop rapidly and then level off. )
It's best if your child goes barefoot, but if that's not an option, "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 the ability to move and bend the foot easily," Dr. Agnese claims
Kailee Noland (aka The Movement Mama), a pediatric physical therapist, recommends velcro straps for adjustability (and for helping your toddler gain independence) and a firm yet flexible heel cup in her blog post "What to Look for in the Best Toddler Shoes." a pull loop in the back and a slightly elevated toe box to make it easier for your toddler to put their feet in.
Shoes with a soft sole versus shoes with a hard sole Baby and toddler footwear with a hard sole
To help new walkers learn how to balance and position their feet, soft-soled shoes are ideal because they are lightweight and flexible. Soft-soled shoes designed for infants and younger toddlers have a thick sole and a firm heel cup to protect young feet from hazards like sharp or rough surfaces.
Weightier, more rigid, and typically sporting thicker soles, hard-soled footwear fits this description. Due to the rigidity, they should be avoided by infants and toddlers who are just starting to walk. Once your toddler begins to run, jump, and climb, the soles of their shoes become less stable, and Noland recommends switching them to those with a harder surface.
Shoe sizing guidelines for infants and toddlers
The most crucial aspect of buying shoes for infants and toddlers (or anyone, for that matter) is ensuring a good fit. If you want to make sure your kid is rocking the correct shoe size, try these tips out.
- Get a shoe size chart printed out for infants and toddlers.
- Set up your chart on a hard, level surface (not grass or carpet) outside. Get your kid to stand in front of the chart, barefoot, and line up their heel with the marker at the bottom. Check that their toes aren't pointing inward or outward.
- Mark the horizontal position of your child's longest toe with a pen or pencil. You should use the full length of the inches ruler on the side to determine your child's shoe size, as shoe sizes can vary depending on the manufacturer. Take care to measure both feet separately in case there is a discrepancy in shoe size. Get shoes that fit your bigger foot if you have one.
- Check the fit once your child has shoes to try on. To ensure a comfortable fit, have your child stand while wearing the shoes and gently press down on the top of the shoe's toe box with your finger. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a space of about a half an inch or a finger's width between the front of the insole (within the shoe) and the tip of the big toe.
It can be tricky to get an accurate toe length measurement using your finger when shopping for shoes with more rigid tops for your child. Noland advises that in such a scenario, one should "trust one's gut" and "observe how they look [when] standing." If your child is complaining of foot pain, has scrunched feet, or walks differently in their new shoes than they do in their old ones, it's likely that they are wearing shoes that are too big for them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests checking the fit of children's shoes monthly due to the rapid development of their feet.