As any parent will lament, the “baby stage” passes quickly. That teary-eyed pride felt as your little one learns to put one foot in front of the other soon gives way to that wide-eyed realization that everything is different now that the baby can walk. Whether they are 9 months old or well past their first birthday, when your little one is ready to get going, you better be ready to keep up.
With any new adventure, you need the right gear for the journey. You cannot prevent every tumble your little walker takes, but you can protect their feet as they teeter around by selecting baby shoes that are comfortable, durable, and supportive—fortunately, Truly Mama has you covered with these best baby shoes made for walking, because that’s just what they’ll do. And yes, that toddler of yours will be walking all over you.
Does Your Little One Really Need Baby Walking Shoes?
They sure look cute, but does your two-month old really need those baby walking shoes? No. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against putting shoes on your baby until they can walk. Socks can provide sufficient warmth until then.
So, if you’re wondering when to buy baby shoes, there is no magical one time that’s right for every child. You may decide your little one needs them if you’re a family who spends a lot of time outdoors or maybe your toddler is ready to hit the playground in full force. Once they get the hang of walking, the AAP says baby shoes are good to go. When you’re ready to make the leap into the world of footwear, here’s how to buy toddler shoes and what to look for in a shoe for your baby:
- Choose a soft, flexible sole. Your little one’s feet are new to walking and they need to be able to get a feel for the surface they traverse. Chunky, thick soles will feel awkward on your child’s foot and can make it hard for them to get a sense of balance. Look for something soft with a low heel when searching for an everyday toddler shoe.
- Find the right fit. It’s tempting to buy shoes bigger than your toddler’s foot so they can “grow into” them, but it’s important to buy shoes that provide a snug fit without being too tight. There should be about a finger’s width of room in your little one’s shoe once their foot is inside. Don’t force their precious foot into something too small and confining.
- Consider adjustable clasps. It’s important that the shoes you pick for your little one are comfortable on their feet and not too complicated for you to put on them. Closures that use Velcro, zippers, or snaps to ensure a snug fit are a great option for early walkers with ever-growing feet. Save yourself some frustration and hold off on the laces for now.
- Stick with non-slip soles. When transitioning from baby slippers to toddler shoes, look for options that provide your walker with some traction. Many soft sole shoes will slide and glide easily, so it’s important to find some shoes with nonslip soles to ensure your toddler doesn’t get into a slippery situation where they could get hurt.
How to Choose a Toddler Shoe
Considering your toddler’s lifestyle will give you a good indication for where to start looking for a shoe. Is your little explorer spending a lot of time outside, or do they prefer indoor terrain? Are you concerned about keeping up with the latest footwear styles, or will a basic tennis shoe work just fine? What season are they wandering into? Will they need waterproof shoes or snow boots?
Budget considerations are also important in shoe selection. Your child grows quickly, so don’t expect shoes to last more than a few months at a time until your toddler gets a bit older. Setting your shoe budget with their growth in mind can help you avoid wasting money and time trying to squeeze an ill-fitting shoe on a fit-throwing toddler. Here are some toddler shoe options to explore with these considerations in mind.
Best Casual Toddler Shoes for New Walkers
The household brand Stride Rite produced these shoes specifically for early walkers. Their lightweight design and flexibility have been approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association, making them an excellent pick for parents who are conscious of healthy foot development. The Mason Sneaker also features adjustable hook and loop closures and memory foam insoles to help ensure your toddler’s feet are comfortable and supported.
These lightweight, budget-friendly sneakers are a great option for early walkers. Their nonslip soles and flexible material make the Ro + Me shoes a staple for babies who are taking their first steps. Parents love that they can slip them on and off and that their casual style matches almost any outfit.
Best Summer Shoes for Toddlers
For the wilderness explorer or splash pad swimmer, Keen offers a toddler shoe that is extremely durable, waterproof, and adjustable. The rubber outsoles of the shoe keep little toes safe from slipping on rocks and concrete, while the hook and loop closure allows for secure wear and adequate heel support. These babies are machine-washable, too, so you won’t have to worry about scrubbing mud off of them. You’ll still have to scrub the mud in between your little one’s toes though—sorry!
Crocs are a summer staple and a must-have for toddlers. Even if you aren’t sold on their funky appearance, the ease of cleaning, vibrant colors, and simplicity of getting them on and off your toddler’s foot will make you a believer. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and can be easily cleaned no matter what kind of trouble your toddler gets into. (No? Is that just my toddler?)
Best Toddler Rain Boots
Who doesn’t love splashing in a rain puddle? Let your little adventurer experience the joy of stomping and jumping into puddles with these bright, beautiful rain boots from Crocs. The handles make pulling the boots on and off quick and easy, and with their fam-cushioned, waterproof design you won’t hear complaints from your toddler about their feet hurting. These fan-favorite boots are sure to be a big hit for toddlers who are learning to put on their shoes for the first time.
Best Toddler Snow Boots
Does your toddler want to build a snowman? (The answer is, of course, always yes, even if Mom would rather snuggle inside.) Keep their little feet dry and warm with these Sorel Snow Boots. Parents love that they are easy to take off and put on due to the Velcro strap and the cozy liner keeps feet warm enough for a long snow fort building session.
Best Style Picks for Toddler Shoes
These classic black Nikes are a wardrobe icon for any toddler hitting the basketball court. The breathable material of the shoe is comfortable on little feet, and Velcro straps provide easy on and off access. Now you’ll have to get a pair to match them!
These New Balance shoes look just like yours—except with a hook and loop closure for easy on and off. The cushioned soles will keep feet comfortable and the high-quality suede design ensures that these shoes won’t be quick to fall apart. These durable kicks are the perfect companion for hours of active play.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should babies start wearing shoes?
Babies should wear shoes when they start taking their first steps to protect their feet. Before that, bare feet and socks are just fine.
Does wearing shoes help a baby to learn to walk?
No. Babies need to feel the ground with their bare feet to learn to balance on it and shoes can get in the way of that.
Should babies wear socks?
Babies can wear socks! Keeping their little feet warm is a good idea, especially before they start wearing sturdier shoes. If you have a baby in cold weather, it’s also important to keep them warm with the right winter essentials.
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Reviewed by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN…