How to choose shoes for your child

Because those little feet were made for walking!


Let’s face it: dressing your baby is one of the chief joys of being a parent, especially in the super-cute newborn phase. But as adorable as those mini Air Jordans are, or those teeny tiny Mary Janes, the truth is that until your baby is walking, there’s no need for her to wear shoes. And in fact, wearing shoes before she’s learned to put one foot in front of the other can actually harm your little one’s development and mobility. (Of course, you can keep your tot’s toes warm with socks, booties and soft-soled shoes until they’re ready for “real” shoes).

When your tot has started to pull herself up and begun to walk around the house (a huge milestone, by the way), it’s a sign she’s ready for shoes. Here’s our quick guide on shopping for your tot’s first shoes. Enjoy, and happy shopping!

  1. Trust the professionals: Most reputable shoe stores, especially those that cater to babies and children, will have a qualified shoe fitter on hand to fit your baby’s first shoes. If in doubt, look for a certificate of training in the store, or ask the manager. A qualified shoe fitter knows exactly what they’re looking for in terms of fit, safety and comfort.
  2. Check the fit: For subsequent shoe fittings, make sure that, when your baby is standing, there’s just enough room to press your pinky finger between the heel of the shoe and your baby’s heel. At the front, there should be a thumb’s width between her longest toe and the front of her shoe. And keep in mind that if your baby will usually wear socks with the shoes she’s trying on, that she’s wearing those socks at the fitting. It’s also a good idea to have a fitting later in the day, as our feet tend to expand as the day goes on. (This tip applies to grown-ups, too!)
  3. Choose light, breathable fabrics: Soft leather and cloth are ideal materials for your baby’s first shoes. Try to avoid synthetic fibres that don’t breathe, as these may irritate your little one’s feet.
  4. Bend the soles: Your baby’s feet are still growing, so it’s important that her shoes can move with her. Choose flexible, non-skid soles (rubber is ideal) that bend every which way. Yep, really – take them and bend them as much as you can to check that they can move.
  5. Go for gritty soles: Smooth soles + babies just learning to walk = a fall waiting to happen. Go for non-skid soles that have some grip to them. If you’re unsure, you can rough up the soles yourself with sandpaper.
  6. Get some bare feet, time, too: As much as possible, allow your tot to walk around in bare feet. Indoors, your baby doesn’t need shoes, and when her feet are bare, she learns to walk properly, feeling the sensation of her feet hitting the ground and lifting back up again. It’s important that she has time to do this, so encourage it as much as possible.