Your baby’s foot is surprisingly complex. Made up of 26 developing bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles and ligaments – your child’s foot supports twice his entire body weight, adapts to uneven surfaces and even absorbs the shock of your toddler stomping around.
Feet are important. And so is choosing the right shoe. Your baby’s first pair of shoes must be comfortable while promoting the correct growth of the developing foot.
Choosing the right pair of shoes for your baby is easier than you think. Simply follow our simple guide to find a snug and comfortable shoe for your child. You will be a baby shoe expert in no time!
- When to buy your baby’s first pair of shoes
- 7 simple steps to buying the right baby shoes
- Anatomy of a good baby shoe
- Best kids shoes by age group
When to buy your baby’s first shoe
The answer to this question entirely depends on you and your personal situation. I didn’t buy my baby his first pair of shoes until he was three months old. My sister on the other hand bought her newborn a pair of shoes so that he would look fab and fine at a wedding she was attending.
A good time to start thinking about shoes is when your baby gives up on tummy time and starts crawling. A pair of shoes here can provide protection for your little ones tiny toes as they drag and scrape along your floorboards or stone tiles.
With baby shoes available from size 0 (newborn), it’s really up to you as to how soon buy the first pair.
7 simple steps to buying the right baby shoes
When buying shoes for your baby or toddler, the following rules should be strictly followed.
1. Measure once and measure right.
Measuring your baby’s foot will help narrow down the size and brand of shoe that is appropriate for your baby. Knowing the correct size will allow you to confidently choose a correct fitting shoe in store or online (that’s where the bargains are).
While sizing your little one’s foot may seem simple, there are a few tricks to it including measuring straight from the heel to the tip of the longest toe and using a ribbon to determine the width. Check out our guide to choosing the right sized baby shoe for more tips and tricks.
2. Go soft or go home
While that mini pair of converse or Nike running shoes may look adorably cute, they have a hard sole. And hard soled shoes are no good for your baby.
To put it simply – flexible soft soled shoes made from leather, suede or a thin rubber are best for small feet. Soft soled shoes allow the foot to bed and toes to grip as if your child is walking barefoot, promoting positive development of your little ones feet. You can check out all the other
advantages of soft soled baby shoes here.
3. Stand Up
When trying on shoes, get your toddler to stand up. While standing, your baby will place enough weight on his foot for it to completely expand. This way you will be able to make sure the shoe isn’t too narrow. A shoe that is too narrow will restrict natural development of the foot.
If your little one is throwing a tantrum, it may be tempting to fit his shoes while he is in the pram. However, this is a surefire way to choose a shoe that doesn’t fit properly.
4. Wiggle Room
You should allow around 1cm of room from your baby’s toes to the top of the shoe. This will allow your baby to comfortable spread his toes as if he is walking bare foot, which aids balance when learning to walk.
It’s unavoidable, your young baby is going to outgrow his first pair of shoes fast. While it may be tempting to go up a size, those extra-large shoes are going to make learning to walk even harder than it already is.
5. Hold Tight
There isn’t a whole lot more frustrating than coming home after a day out only to discover your little one is missing a shoe.
For this reason you will want to choose a shoe that goes on and stay on, without being too tight.
My personal favorite are either elastic-ankle shoes like moccasins or shoes with a buckle or Velcro strap. They go on quick and they stay on.
While laces may look stylish, they take longer to do up. If you have to choose a shoe with laces, make sure they are long enough so that you can easily double-knot them. Otherwise your little Houdini will be making an escape for it.
6. Traction control
Your little one is going to be stumbling around like a drunken sailor as he learns to walk. And slippery shoes are going to make the falls harder and faster.
While those leather bottomed moccasins are a great choice for crawlers and toddlers that have mastered walking, they are a little too slippery for those who are still wobbly on their feet.
Suede or rubber bottomed shoes will give your baby extra-grip as he pushes off the floor, which will prevent slipping.
Tip – You can rough up slick leather or rubber baby shoes for even more grip by giving the shoe a brief going over with sand paper.
7. Walk it out
It is a well known fact that toddlers can run at speeds of over 100 Km/h the moment you take your eyes off them. And they tumble over just as quickly. You don’t want the shoes to be the cause of this fall.
While it’s easier said than one, have your little one walk around in the shoes and look for signs that the shoes are either too big or too small.
The shoes flexing too much at the sides might be a sign that the shoes are too narrow while a shoe that slides around at the heel may indicate a shoe that is too big.
The Make of your Baby’s First Shoe
1. Insole – Since the arch of the foot does not develop until the age of 6 years old, the inner of the shoe should be flat to match your baby or toddlers foot. Many soft soled shoes will only have a single piece of leather, suede or rubber making up both the outer sole and insole.
2. Upper – Should be constructed of soft, breathable material like leather, canvas or mesh. Children’s feet sweat more than adults and these materials allow air to circulate, allowing the foot to breath.
3. Outer Sole – Soft and flexible and if your baby is just learning to walk, extra traction is a must.
4. Heel – Heels are not necessary for baby’s and toddlers and can actually obstruct proper walking.
Shoes by age
Here are some quick tips for choosing the right shoe for your child by age group.
Given that your baby will spend a lot of time on their stomach, hands and knees; newborns and pre-walkers do not actually need baby shoes. Feet should be covered in socks, booties or a soft soled shoe that does not constrict their feet.
For this age, since your baby is not yet walking, the main function of a shoe is warmth and protection. If you are looking for something a little more fashionable, leather soft-soled shoes such as moccasins are a good choice.
Now is when your little one will take full advantage of a soft sole shoe. Suede or thin, flexible rubber soles will make it easier for your little ones feet to properly grip the ground.
For this age, a shoe provides protection while encouraging natural development of your baby’s feet while he learns to walk. Toddler should should have a flat bottom without a heal.
School Age kids
For school aged children and older, you will swap out the soft soled shoes for hard soles. And that is where a whole world of choice opens up. You can choose from a variety of runners, sandals, hiking shoes… pretty much a smaller version of any shoe an adult would wear. Remember to choose the right shoe for the right activity!
For this age, comfort, shock absorption and protection are the most important features to focus on.
Got any extra tips to finding a good fitting baby shoe? Let me know in the comments below!