Buying Baby's First Shoes

How to Choose the Best Baby Walking Shoes

Woman's hands with baby shoes
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Your baby is walking! It's time for some baby shoes! Today, more than ever, there are incredibly cute options for baby walking shoes available, from lots of brands in many different price ranges. Before you buy, though, check out these tips to be sure you get a pair of shoes that will help, not hinder, your baby's walking experience. Babies will find plenty of things to trip over, so be sure their shoes aren't part of the problem.

When to Buy Baby Shoes

If your baby is starting to take a few steps, it's time. It's fine to let your baby learn to walk without shoes if you prefer. In fact, it might even be easier for your baby to figure out those wobbly first steps without shoes. There are times, though, when it's dangerous or just plain gross for baby to go barefoot, so it's a good idea to have at least one pair of shoes available once your baby is officially on the move.

What Kind Should I Buy?

Cute ones, obviously! Right? In addition to cuteness, baby shoes should be soft and should have flexible soles so those little feet can properly balance. Non-skid bottoms are a good idea, but baby won't be scaling mountains just yet, so you don't need anything too thick. If you choose high-tops or boots, make sure they're flexible around the ankles, so movement isn't restricted.

Breathable and washable materials are a must. You'd be surprised at how gross those sweet baby feet can smell inside a sweaty shoe.

If the Shoe Fits....

Baby shoes shouldn't need a break-in period, nor should you buy them big in hopes of getting more wear out of them. Try some different pairs of shoes on your baby and walk around the store a bit.

Watch how your baby walks in the shoes. Do they hinder movement? After walking, are there any red spots or pinched areas? You should be able to put your pinky finger in between the heel of the shoe and the baby's foot, and there should be about a thumb-width between baby's toes and the end of the shoe.

Make sure you try on the shoes with the type of socks your toddler will wear most often. With little feet, a thicker sock can mean the difference between a shoe that fits and one that doesn't.

Laces or Velcro?

Laces do need to be re-tied a lot, which may send parents in search of Velcro baby shoes. Lace-up shoes are harder for babies to take off, but Velcro is easier to figure out for the young mind, so be prepared for baby to learn to remove Velcro shoes fairly quickly. Try tying the shoelaces a few times in the store. You'll be tying and re-tying these shoes a lot, so be sure the laces are long enough and easy to work with. If you choose a slip-on shoe for baby, put the shoe on a few times in the store to be sure it slips on easily for dressing but doesn't fall off when baby walks. Slip on shoes are especially prone to fit trouble if you switch sock thicknesses, though.

    Choose an Ideal Shopping Time

    Since you're going to ask your toddler to play shoe model and walk around the store a bit, it's a good idea to plan your shoe adventure around nap times and meals.

    You don't want a tired or hungry baby having a meltdown as you're trying to put shoes on those little feet. Think about times of day when your baby is most likely to be happy. Hopefully, that isn't at midnight!

    How Often Should I Buy Shoes?

    After a while, you may feel like you could build an addition out of practically new, but outgrown, shoes. Check the fit of your baby's shoes often. All babies grow at different rates, but you can expect to buy shoes in bigger sizes every four to six months through the first toddler years. Some kids may require bigger shoes more often if they have several growth spurts in a row. Check for signs of wear on the shoes and replace them if the bottoms crack or if there are holes in top or sides. This becomes a bigger issue as your child gets older. Most baby walking shoes don't see enough wear to fall apart unless you've passed them down to a sibling.