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Buying Baby's First Shoes

How to Choose the Best Baby Shoes for Your New Walker


Woman's hands with baby shoes
Buena Vista Images/Photodisc/Getty Images

Your baby is walking! Now is the time to shop for some baby walking shoes. Today, more than ever, there are incredibly cute options for baby shoes available, from lots of brands in many different price ranges. Before you buy, though, check out these tips to be sure you get a pair of baby shoes that will help, not hinder, your baby's walking experience. Babies will find plenty of things to trip over, so be sure their shoes aren't part of the problem!

When Should I Buy Shoes for Baby?

If your baby is starting to take a few steps, it's time. It's fine to let your baby learn to walk without shoes, if you prefer. In fact, it might even be easier for your baby to figure out those wobbly first steps without shoes. There are times, though, when it's dangerous or just plain gross for baby to go barefoot, so it's a good idea to have at least one pair of shoes available once your baby is officially on the move.


    What Kind of Baby Shoes Should I Buy?

    Cute ones, obviously! Right? In addition to cuteness, baby shoes should be very soft, and they should have flexible soles so that baby can use his or her feet properly for balance. Non-skid bottoms are a good idea, but remember that baby won't be scaling mountains just yet, so you don't need anything too thick. If you choose high-tops or boots, make sure they're still very flexible around the ankles, so movement isn't restricted. Breathable materials are also a must. You'd be surprised at how gross those sweet baby feet can smell inside a sweaty shoe.


      How Should Baby Shoes Fit?

      Baby shoes shouldn't need a break-in period, nor should you buy them big in hopes of getting more wear out of them. Try some different pairs of shoes on your baby and walk around the store a bit. Watch how your baby walks in the shoes. Do they seem to hinder movement? After walking, when you take them off, are there any red spots or pinched areas? You should be able to put your pinky finger in between the heel of the shoe and the baby's foot, and there should be about a thumb-width between baby's toes and the end of the shoe.


        Laces or Velcro?

        Laces do need to be re-tied a lot, which may send parents in search of Velcro baby shoes. Lace-up shoes are harder for babies to take off, but Velcro is easier to figure out for the young mind, so be prepared for baby to learn to remove Velcro shoes fairly quickly. Try tying the shoe laces a few times in the store. You'll be tying and re-tying these shoes a lot, so be sure the laces are long enough and easy to work with. If you choose a slip-on shoe for baby, put the shoe on a few times in the store to be sure it slips on easily for dressing but doesn't fall off when baby walks.


          When Should I Shop?

          Since you're going to ask your baby to play shoe model and walk around the store a bit, it's a good idea to plan your shoe adventure around nap times and meals. You don't want a tired or hungry baby having a meltdown as you're trying to put shoes on those little feet.


            How Often Should I Buy Shoes?

            If your house is like mine, you may soon be able to build an addition out of practically new, but outgrown, shoes. Check the fit of your baby's shoes often. All babies grow at different rates, but you can expect to buy shoes in bigger sizes at least every four to six months. Some kids, like my daughter, will require bigger shoes almost monthly. Check for signs of wear on the shoes and be ready to replace them if the bottoms crack or if there are holes in top or sides. This becomes a bigger issue as your child gets older. Most baby and toddler shoes don't see enough wear to fall apart unless you've passed them down to a sibling.


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