The Best Time and Type of Shoes to Buy a Baby

mother trying shoes on her baby in the aisle of a store
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Bronzing your baby's shoes might not be as popular a practice as it once was, but parents are still all too eager to get their baby their first pair of shoes—and sometimes sooner than necessary.

The potential effects that baby shoes could have on developing feet has been debated among pediatricians for decades. Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics advise against putting shoes on a newborn's feet, and say that babies don't need to wear shoes until they begin to walk.

Once your baby has taken their first steps, your best bet for baby shoes is to make sure they're comfortable and provide some grip on slippery surfaces. They should fit snugly at the heel but still allow room at the toes. Though support won't really stabilize your baby's ankles at this age, shoes with higher ankles will help prevent your little one from taking them off.

Talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child's feet or walking, including if toe walking, ingrown toenails, in-toeing or out-toeing, or not walking by 15 months.

Baby Shoes for Pre-Walkers

Many parents look for a soft-sole shoe as the first baby shoes they buy. These are more decorative than anything else (and can help keep socks on your baby's feet for warmth). Popular brands for crawlers and prewalkers include:

  • Robeez
  • pediped
  • Stride Rite Prewalkers
  • Umi
  • Preschoolians Crawlers
  • New Balance
  • Lacoste
  • Jack & Lily
  • IsaBooties
  • Vans
  • Merrell
  • Nina Kids

Of course, you could also just dress up your baby in a cute pair of socks until they are walking! While they are cruising and crawling, babies need soft socks with non-skid soles more than shoes. If your infant wears decorative shoes, take them off whenever your baby begins to cruise or walk. This will help with their balance.

What to Look For in First Baby Shoes

Once your child is walking, consider price, comfort, and style when choosing shoes. Most importantly, however, protect your baby's feet with flexible, non-skid or skid-resistant soles. Also make sure your baby's shoes fit correctly and aren't too small.

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 more flexible, soft-soled shoes. Many brands of shoes for kids are made of very soft leather, which has the benefit of being comfortable and washable.

Flexible soles and good fit are key. Skip the added expense of arch supports, special inserts, reinforced heels, or any other added feature, unless your baby's doctor recommends them.

Baby Shoes to Avoid

Crocs, sneakers with Velcro straps, and flip-flops slip off so easily that you will likely have a hard time keeping them on your kids.This is fine for "barefoot-is-best" families, but better shoes can protect your toddler or preschooler from stubbed toes, broken toenails, splinters, and other injuries, even inside the house.

There has also been some concern that Crocs can pose a safety hazard on escalators, as there have been reports of kids wearing Crocs who've 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.

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3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Footwear in childrenPaediatr Child Health. 2009;14(2):121-122. doi:10.1093/pch/14.2.121

  2. Walle EA. Infant Social Development Across the Transition from Crawling to WalkingFront Psychol. 2016;7:960. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00960

  3. Hollander K, de Villiers JE, Sehner S, et al. Growing-up (habitually) barefoot influences the development of foot and arch morphology in children and adolescentsSci Rep. 2017;7(1):8079. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07868-4

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