The Best Time and Type of Shoes to Buy a Baby

mother trying shoes on her baby in the aisle of a store
Juanmonino / Getty Images

Although getting their first baby shoes bronzed doesn't seem to be as popular a practice as it once was, parents always seem eager to get their baby's first pair of shoes. Almost too eager, in fact, and way before their baby actually needs them.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies don't actually need to wear shoes until they begin to walk. Shoes are meant to protect your baby's feet, especially as she begins to walk outside, and don't help her learn to walk any sooner.

In fact, especially if they aren't flexible or don't have non-skid soles, many baby shoes can actually make it harder for your baby to take her first steps.

Popular Soft-Sole Shoe Brands for Babies

Many parents look for a soft-sole shoe as the first baby shoes they buy. Popular brands for crawlers and pre-walkers include:

  • Robeez
  • pediped
  • Stride Rite prewalkers
  • Umi
  • Preschoolians crawlers
  • New Balance
  • Lacoste
  • Jack and Lily leather shoes for infants and toddlers
  • IsaBooties
  • Skechers
  • Vans
  • Merrell
  • Nina Kids

Of course, you could just dress up your baby in a good pair of socks until she is walking. When she is at the cruising and crawling level, soft socks with non-skid soles should work well enough that you don't necessarily need shoes yet.

If your infant is wearing decorative shoes as part of an outfit, be sure to take them off whenever she begins to cruise around or walk.

Factors to Consider When Buying First Baby Shoes

Your child will then transition to walker and toddler shoes once she is walking well. Once your child is walking, as with baby clothes, you should likely consider many factors when choosing shoes, including price, comfort, and style. Most importantly, flexible, non-skid or skid-resistant soles are one of the most important features to look for in a baby shoe. You also want to make sure your baby's shoes fit correctly and aren't too small.

Keep in mind that even as your baby begins walking well, you can save that pair of classic high-top, hard-soled baby shoes just for bronzing. Even at this age, your toddler will likely do better in flexible soft-soled shoes. In fact, many brands of shoes for kids are made of very soft leather, which has the bonus features of being comfortable and washable.

Flexible soles and good fit are the key things to look for in a baby shoe.

You can even skip the added expense of arch supports, special inserts, reinforced heels, or any other added feature, as long as your baby's shoes are flexible and fit.

Why Velcro, Crocs, and Sandals May Not Be Best for Toddlers

From Crocs for toddlers and sneakers with Velcro straps to flip-flops, shoes are so easy to get off these days that you will likely find that you have a hard time keeping them on your kids. This is fine for the "barefoot-is-best" crowd, but once your toddler or preschooler is really running around, even inside the house, you will likely end up with a lot of stubbed toes, broken toenails, and splinters, etc., if your child isn't wearing shoes.

You might consider laced shoes instead if you really want your older child to get in the habit of keeping their shoes on—and maybe learn to tie their own shoes before they are 7 or 8 years old.

There has also been some concern that Crocs can pose a safety hazard on escalators as there have been reports of kids wearing Crocs have gotten their shoes caught and toes injured. If your child has been walking out of their shoes frequently and suffering minor injuries, it's probably wise to graduate them to laced shoes.

Tips for Buying the Right Baby Shoes

In addition to these tips, other things to know about buying your first baby shoes include that:

  • According to the AAP, shoes with "wedges, inserts, high backs, reinforced heels, special arches, and other features designed to shape and support the feet" are not needed by the average child.
  • The best first baby shoes aren't the ones that cost the most, they are the shoes that fit well, are comfortable, and are flexible with non-skid soles. They should also have some room to grow as young kids outgrow their shoes very quickly.
  • Talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child's feet or walking, including if she is toe walking, has an ingrown toenail, has in-toeing or out-toeing, or isn't walking by 15 months.

And remember that you don't have to buy your first baby shoes until your child is really walking.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Shelov SP, Altmann TR, Hannemann RE. American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. New York: Random House Inc; 2014.