How will I know when my baby is ready for shoes?

baby feet Barefoot First Shoes First Steps new mums parenting parenting tips pre-walkers toddler tips when to by shoes

first steps

Seeing your little one take their first steps is such an incredibly special moment, and one you have no doubt tried to capture on camera time and time again! The progression from baby to toddler is a huge step but you don’t need to head out and buy your little one their first shoes right away, here’s why.

It’s really important to let your little one go barefoot for as long as possible. Toddlers learn to balance through the nerve endings in their feet and wearing bulky shoes can hinder this. Your little one will be able to balance and coordinate their steps better if they can feel the ground beneath their little feet. Going barefoot allows the foot to develop naturally.

Your baby’s bones are soft, and cramping them in a pair of shoes too early can squash her feet and prevent them from growing properly. Which can cause problems well into adulthood!! 

At this stage of development, just focus on letting your baby find their balance and their confidence. (And don’t forget to baby-proof everything! Now that they’re standing, a whole new world of hazards will be within reach!)

While they don’t need walking shoes yet, little feet can do with some extra protection from cold or rough surfaces. Pre-walkers are the perfect option in this case. They are soft and light enough to allow your baby freedom and flexibility but they give feet a little extra barrier to protect little soles and toes from injuries. If you do opt for pre-walking shoes they must be completely flat with a little grip, soft, flexible and roomy so that your little ones developing foot isn’t hindered at all. 

If you have cold slippery floors indoors and would like something to keep your little ones feet warmer then a pair on comfortably fitting non-slip socks are a great idea. Our non-slip stay on socks are perfect for this.

So how long should you wait after they’ve taken their first baby steps?

There is no definite amount of time, or single answer for this question. It depends on your child. The best advice is to wait until your toddler is walking unaided for a lot of the day. This is the point at which their feet will start to need the extra support that first walking shoes can give them.

Once your toddler is until confidently walking around outside, running, jumping and climbing it’s time to take them to a shoe shop to get fitted.

Be sure to take your toddler to a shoe shop where her feet can be measured by a qualified children’s shoe fitter. Ask the staff if you’re not sure. Your baby’s shoe fitter will advise on the type of shoes to buy, and make sure they fit your baby properly while also allowing for growing room.

The single most important thing to watch out for is choosing the right fit. A top tip is that Most babies’ feet will swell during the day, so if you measure them first thing in the morning, you may get a slightly smaller measurement than they need. 

What should you look for in a first shoe?

Look for a supportive shoe with Velcro fastening, or buckle, to hold your baby’s feet in place. Check that the sole is flexible and lightweight with a good grip. If you plan to put socks on with your toddlers shoes then make sure they are fitted with socks on I the shoe shop.

Choose shoes made of a breathable material, such as leather, cotton or canvas. Please, please stay away from plastic shoes. These can make your baby’s feet sweat, which can lead to rubbing and worse still fungal infections. 

When your baby tries on a pair of shoes, feel around the toe area to make sure there is plenty of room. There should be about 1cm of growing room between the end of her longest toe and the end of her shoes.

Let your baby walk around in the shoes. Make sure her feet don’t slip forwards or out of the shoes when she walks. Your little one will no doubt love the extra comfort and support their new shoes give them. 

Flat feet are normal for toddlers, so there is no need to worry about arch supports. You should avoid any high ankle shoes, as toddlers’ ankles should be kept free to avoid accidental injuries and help them build muscle strength.

The best shoes are ones that are as lightweight as possible and give your baby’s feet support and flexibility. The soles should be flexible and non-slip to give them the best grip possible on the ground. It’s a good idea to opt for shoes with an easy, secure fastening like Velcro if you can. This will speed up getting the shoes on and off and also make it easy for your little one to grown confident in doing this themselves.

Check your baby's feet regularly as it's unlikely that she'll tell you if they feel sore. When it comes to your baby’s feet, a bad fit can be less obvious. At this stage your toddler’s nerve ending may not be completely developed. This means that if the shoes are uncomfortable they may not feel it.

Even if your toddler can feel it, they’re also just developing their communication skills and can find it difficult to let you know what’s wrong.

Amazingly your little ones feet will grow about two shoes sizes a year, so be prepared to buy new shoes fairly frequently. Take your baby to have her feet measured every six weeks to eight weeks until they are about 4 years old. After this you can move to every 3 or 4 months.  Check the size of your baby’s socks regularly, too. If your baby needs a larger shoe, then she will also need bigger socks!

I’m a big fan of reusing where I can but it’s always best to buy your baby new shoes. Second hand shoes won’t give your little one the right support for their developing feet because they will already be moulded to another child’s feet, and the soles will have worn down to fit a different walking style.

If your little one has a strong opinion of what they wear then buying a style/ colour of shoe your toddler likes is a great idea! This will make them want to wear them even more. 

Some problems to watch out for…

Remember, the bones in your child’s feet are still developing at this stage. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists recommend replacing shoes that have 5mm or less between the big toe and front of the shoe. They also recommend looking out for the following 4 warning signs of issues with your child’s feet:

  • Redness on the skin – look for redness or rashes between toes, around the arches and ankles or any lumps on the soles of feet.
  • Nail problems – watch out for any inflammation or discolouration of toenails.
  • Deformed toes – make sure toes are always in a straight line with the foot and not curled back. It’s normal for the fifth toe to tuck under the fourth toe, or fourth toe to tuck under the third, but make sure the big toes are straight.
  • Posture – look to see if your child’s feet look excessively turned in or out.

Then it's time to get that camera out again and get some great shots of them in their first shoes!!!

I have actually kept my little ones first shoes, so that one day, when they are all grown up and moved out, I can have them put into a 3D frame as a great memory of this special time!

Have a wonderful day!

Katie x 


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