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When Do Babies Need Shoes?

When Do Babies Need Shoes

Tiny, name brand running sneakers. Sparkly dress-up flats. Wee jelly sandals and loafers…baby shoes are really, really cute. It’s almost impossible not to buy them all up! But just because they’re super-adorable, doesn’t necessarily mean your tot needs them. Worse, putting the wrong shoes on a budding walker may hinder their newfound skills. Here, we break down what your baby’s growing feet really need.

Do babies need shoes?

The short answer is no. Your baby does not need shoes until they start walking, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The only thing younger babies need on their feet are socks to keep them warm. 

Think about it like this: The purpose of shoes (other than to look cute, of course), is to protect the feet. But if your precious nugget is dangling from a baby carrier, relaxing in the stroller, or scooting on their hands and knees, there’s nothing to protect their feet from. If warmth is what you crave for your baby’s tootsies, cozy socks, footed snowsuits, and stroller sacks do the trick.

What’s the harm of baby shoes?

Beyond not needing shoes, putting shoes on babies who are just learning to balance on their growing feet can be a downright hindrance. Shoes with inflexible soles can prevent a baby from learning how to flex and move their feet to walk. That’s why pediatricians recommend that babies learn to walk barefoot in a safe space, like on their living room floor. This’ll help strengthen the muscles and tendons in your baby’s feet.

When do babies need shoes?

There is no particular age at which your baby will need shoes, but a good rule of thumb is to wait until they’ve learned to walk and show signs of wanting to be up and about. The general milestone guideline for when a baby begins to walk is:

  • Between 6 and 13 months: crawling

  • Between 9 and 12 months: pulling themselves up

  • Between 8 and 18 months: walking

It is important to remember that not all babies are on the same trajectory. If your child’s progress doesn’t fit neatly in the above timeline, it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician about any concerns.  

Should babies wear shoes when learning to walk?

Babies should wear shoes when walking outside or on uneven surfaces. But indoors, barefoot is best for your baby’s still-developing feet. (Often, babies won’t even tolerate shoes while they’re busy trying to master walking!) Again, when your baby’s tootsies are shoe-free, it bolsters their muscle strength, plus it encourages balance, posture, and coordination. If you feel your baby needs a little something-something on their feet, you can use booties or socks with non-skid bottoms to prevent slipping while walking inside. 

What should parents look for in baby shoes?

When babies start to walk, and parents are ready to buy their first pair of shoes, it’s essential that fashion takes a back seat to function. But don’t fret too much: There are so many adorable and appropriate, baby shoe options. Just remember that your baby’s feet are growing fast, and stability, flexibility, and comfort are musts.

To pick the perfect pair of baby shoes, look for a few key features, like:

  • Lightweight shoes

  • Flexible soles: Any shoes with hard, stiff soles can restrict foot movement 

  • Correct fit: Make sure the shoes aren’t too loose or too tight. There should be about a thumb’s width of room in the toe box.

  • Non-skid soles: This is important to help prevent slips and falls

It’s also a wise idea to consider cost. It’s common for a baby to outgrow a pair of shoes within just two or three months! For this reason, you may not want to splurge on lots of pairs of shoes and instead start with one affordable and easy-to-replace pair. 

 

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THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS

Is your baby getting ready to take their first steps? Do you already have a bonafide cruiser on your hands? If that’s the case, you’re probably wondering what exactly they should be wearing to protect their adorably chubby little feet. Finding the best walking shoes for your baby’s feet is essential to their health and development, so we consulted the experts to get the lowdown on what parents should be looking for before they invest in a pair of adorable kicks.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

There aren’t a ton of guidelines parents need to follow when looking for their baby’s first pair of walking shoes. Dr. Leann Poston, a pediatrician at Invigor Medical in Kennewick, Washington, says, “The most important thing parents should look for is walking shoes that are well-fitting and flexible.” Alas, if your baby has adorable baby Jordan sneakers like my kids had, their stiffness would, unfortunately, eliminate them from this category.

Poston also advises, “Baby walking shoes should not change the way the child walks and should only protect their feet from getting hurt. They should have a large enough toe box for their toes to move.” In other words, don’t opt for anything too restrictive.

Thanks to Dr. Poston’s helpful insight, we found the best baby walking shoes available for your little one right now. We considered fit, style, quality, and, of course, budgets of all sorts — all of which will have your baby walking in style in no time. On your mark, get set: Gobabygo!

 

Baby Walking Shoes

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Baby Walking Shoes

If you’re looking for a great budget option, these are the best walking shoes to shop. These come in multiple colors, wash like a dream, and the bottom is flexible yet sturdy, which is exactly what you want your baby’s walking shoes to be.

The sides have extra stretch for easy on and off, and the top is roomy enough for the toes but provides enough pressure for stability and safety. They’re a real win for the price and don’t sacrifice quality.

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Infant First Walkers Slip On Toddler Sneakers

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Infant First Walkers Slip On Toddler Sneakers

Super stretchy, super affordable, and super quick drying, these shoes help prevent sweaty, stinky baby feet while still cradling your baby’s precious little feet, providing support for those first steps.

Plus, what kid doesn’t want a pair of fire engine red shoes? Aren’t they just the most darling thing you’ve ever seen?

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Baby Boy Soft Motion Kylin Sneaker

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Baby Boy Soft Motion Kylin Sneaker

When your cruiser really gets going, these sneakers from Stride Rite will keep them steady as they navigate their new world. The flexible rubber sole and washable canvas upper make for a sturdy, baby-friendly design that your kids won’t get mad wearing.

Your kid can even help get themselves in and out of it, which is a major developmental milestone.

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Ryder II FlexiRun Active Sneakers for Kids

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Ryder II FlexiRun Active Sneakers for Kids

A sneaker that looks like a sneaker for grown-ups or older children but performs like a baby shoe? Sign us up. This shoe from See Kai Run is a newer version of the ones my own children wore. The shoes are the highest quality — the soles don’t pull away from the shoe, and the Velcro never becomes gross and puffy. (And they’re just fine, even after stepping in puddles and holding stinky baby feet.)

Plus, they’re so flexible and fashionable that you can easily pass these down to multiple children — they’re that good.

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Stride Rite 360 Boys Carson Athletic Sneaker

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Stride Rite 360 Boys Carson Athletic Sneaker

Machine-washable? Yes, please! The soles on these walking shoes are flexible, the top is washable, and the strap adjusts wonderfully. Plus, just look at how cute they are — they’re like, dad shoes baby shoes!

Stride Rite has been around for decades making great kids’ shoes, and their baby walking shoes are some of the best you’ll find.

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Baby Sneakers Tennis Shoes First Walker Shoes

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Baby Sneakers Tennis Shoes First Walker Shoes

During beach and splash park season, babies will want to get out there and play. This pair of shoes makes sure that your little one’s feet are safe and secure as they stomp about, splashing, playing, and having loads of fun in the water.

They’re mesh fabric and designed to let water flow through them without puddling. The insole is also made of quick-dry materials, preventing moldy, mildewy shoes.

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Tanner Sneaker for Little Kids

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Tanner Sneaker for Little Kids

Apart from being just about the softest baby walking shoes on the planet, these were awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association — and that’s a huge deal. My kids loved See Kai Run and they stayed strapped on so efficiently, they only lost them occasionally.

They are also machine-washable, which is super helpful when your child decides that mud is the best walking surface.

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Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers With Adjustable Squeaker

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers With Adjustable Squeaker

These are quite possibly the cutest shoes of all time. They squeak with every step, but don’t worry, you can turn that off. It’s really just designed to delight and encourage your baby to walk.

It’s also great in a crowd or at the park, because you’re not going to lose track of your little one. They have a wide opening that makes them easy to take on and off, and honestly? These baby walking shoes are just a huge hit with kids.

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Lambskin Leather Soft Sole Shoes

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Lambskin Leather Soft Sole Shoes

Sweet pink ears and little whiskers make this pair of baby walkers special. And these are some of the best-made 100% leather baby walking shoes on the market. They’re snug without being tight, and the designs are just sweet. You’ll be sad when your baby grows out of them.

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Baby Walking Shoes

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Baby Walking Shoes

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting real “royal baby” vibes from these baby shoes — they’re just so prim and proper! They’re lined with soft cotton for extra protection and warmth, but because they’re all-natural, they’ll still breathe and support your baby’s feet.

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Leather Loafers Slip-On

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Leather Loafers Slip-On

I bought this exact pair for my 17-month-old nephew, and he was off to the races. It’s a really high-quality leather loafer for the price, easy to get on and take off, but not so easy that your child will be taking them off in the car and hurling it at their brother in the backseat. They look great with a preppy outfit but even better dressed down with jeans and a tee.

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Special Occasion Soft Sole Slip-On

THE BEST BABY WALKING SHOES FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S FIRST STEPS - Special Occasion Soft Sole Slip-On

For some reason, there are just not a ton of gender-neutral baby’s first walking shoes. This is really one of the few on the market, but it’s a really good shoe. It’s made of the soft, durable leather bottom with a canvas upper material and elastic back and sides to give a better fit.

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FAQs About Baby Walking Shoes

When should my baby be wearing shoes?
As soon as they’re routinely taking more than a few steps at a time, really getting the hang of things, and every time they go outside.

How much room should there be between the top of baby’s toes and the top of the shoe?
Just a fingertip’s worth. Too much space causes sliding, which can lead to instability.

How do I know when my baby has grown out of stretchy leather shoes?
Shoes like Robeez are designed to be worn for a number of sizes. When they start to pull the elastic on the sides taut, it’s time to size up.

How do you clean 100% leather shoes?
Stuff the shoes full of paper, and spot-clean them with a gentle cleanser and water.