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Baby and Kid Shoes Buying Guide

No one can deny the charm of a tiny pair of baby shoes. But when do little ones actually need to start wearing shoes? How often will they outgrow them? And are there specific kinds for the different stages of walking? Some of these answers may surprise you! We’ve broken down what to expect when shopping for shoes as your little one grows and starts taking those first precious steps.

Tan Baby Mocasins

When to Start Buying Baby Shoes

Tiny baby shoes might just be the cutest, most irresistible baby accessory to buy. But until your little one starts walking, they’re not absolutely necessary. Now’s the time to stick with those tiny grippy socks or leave their toes free for wiggling. But of course, putting on a pair of shoes for outings or special occasions won’t hurt. Even when they do start walking, letting new walkers explore indoors in their bare feet for the first few months allows for better grip and, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a more natural learning process. Exploring outdoors, however, is a different story. When those first few exciting steps are taken, it’s time to get a lightweight pair to protect their feet while they’re taking steps on rough sidewalks and grass with potentially prickly weeds.

Getting the Right Fit

For babies learning to walk, correctly fitting shoes are an extremely important variable in the improvement of their skills. Shoes too small or too big can cause pain and lead to compromised or incorrect walking techniques. But size isn’t the only factor. The material and style of the shoe can also have a large impact. When searching for your little one’s shoes, there are a few guidelines to follow to make sure you get the best pair. Look for shoes with lightweight, flexible and breathable material - like soft leather or cloth - and a shape that mimics the shape of the child’s foot. In terms of sizing, every little one grows at their own unique rate, so it’s best to have their feet professionally sized every few months to ensure the perfect fit.

You can test the shoes by pinching the toe area and sides of the shoes to make sure there is a little space, but not too much! Your thumb should be roughly able to fit between the tip of your child’s toes and the end of the shoe, and there should be a little bit of fabric on the sides to pinch. There should also be slight room in the back of the shoe - you don’t want your little one’s heel slipping out, of course, but you also don’t want it rubbing or fitting too snug against the heel of the shoe.

Popular Baby Shoe Brands

Parents and specialists alike have a few favorite shoe go-to brands for infants and babies just starting to take their first steps. Try an adorable, lightweight, and breathable pair of Roobeez or Baby Deer infant shoes for little ones who aren’t cruising around quite yet. Or try a pair by Carter’s, Stepping Stones, or Momo Baby - all of which are much loved for their flexible soles and ultimate comfort.

As your little one begins to walk more outside, look at brands like Pediped or Stride Right for shoes with a bit hardier soles made for babies and toddlers who are more advanced walkers. Make sure the shoes are secured on the foot for safety and to make walking just a bit easier for your little one. (Let’s be real - even adults have trouble walking in unsecured sandals sometimes.)

When to Upgrade

you may need to upgrade shoes to a bigger size every couple of months to accommodate their growing feet. It is important to buy shoes that fit and not try to get ones that are too big in hopes they will grow into them. When looking at styles and materials, there are a few basic things to look for no matter what age. Nonslip grip is one example; you’ll want soles that provide adequate grip when little ones are cruising around. The flexibility of the sole will change depending on your child’s development, however. First walkers will need a flexible sole to help support the learning process, while more advanced walkers will need sturdier soles to protect their feet and to hold up to the wear and tear of walking or running. You’ll also get to choose between velcro or laces - velcro offers ease of use, while shoelaces are important for learning later down the road.