It’s hard to resist putting a pair of shoes and slippers on tiny baby feet. Those chubby baby toes look so darn cute you can’t help but want to dress them up! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, socks are all little ones need at first. You’ll know it’s time to upgrade to real shoes when they’re cruising around confidently in their baby walker. Once they start to put weight on their legs and feet, crawl, or try to stand, pre-walker shoes with soft but sturdy soles will give them the support they need.
By the time your baby finally starts taking those Instagram-worthy first steps (usually between 9 and 18 months), a pair of lightweight, flexible, rubber sole shoes — aka walker shoes — will do wonders to help them move safely and more confidently. And even though babies’ feet grow so fast that most shoes don’t last more than a few months, they’ve got to fit.
Dr. Ashley Lee of the Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists advises not to buy a size bigger (like you can with boots for the big kids) so they can grow into them because all that extra room will affect the fit, which can have an impact on their ability to stand, walk, and play with ease. As the previous Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Northwest Community Hospital and current Mama of two boys, she knows first hand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to baby walker shoes.
“Having a shoe that is too small or ill-fitting can lead to various deformities later in life, including hammertoes and bunions,” Dr. Lee said. “If a shoe is too tight or too loose, it can cause falls or make running [or walking] difficult.”
When should babies start wearing shoes?
Babies don’t need shoes until they actually begin to walk. Essentially, as soon as they’re off all fours, you want to ensure that they are protected from anything that could hurt or infect them. Although they’re ready for baby walking shoes, Dr. Lee notes that barefoot is best when indoors. She also says, “children’s feet can grow an average of 9-10 sizes from birth to 3 years old, so make sure to check their shoe fit every 1-2 months.”
Whether your baby is just learning to stand or they’re already off and running, here’s a peek at 8 of the best baby walker shoes that moms love.
Best Baby Walking Shoes
These PU leather shoes are so stylish, we’re shocked there isn’t a celebrity baby endorsement attached. There is, however, a seal of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), so you can rest easy that you’ve stepped in the right direction. These shoes have rubber soles with a deep tread pattern that gives an extra boost of slip resistance. A flexible sole makes it easy for babies learning to walk to shift their weight from the back of the shoe to the front, and a mesh cover keeps the whole thing breathable for maximum comfort. Finally, the fan-shaped toe box resembles the shape of a child’s foot, which means your baby’s big and small toes can all move freely. On Amazon, they boast an impressive rating of 4.8 out of 5.
One Reviewer Said: “These were the first shoes I bought for my one-year-old. I loved how flexible they are and the Velcro straps were quite durable. It didn’t stop my resourceful second horn from taking off his shoes but I at least knew they wouldn’t fall off while he was playing or climbing. The bottoms are great too, they provide lots of traction.”
Speaking of memory foam comfiness, these sneaks from Stride Rite, a major player when it comes to baby walker shoes, also have it in the insoles, where it adds a bit of cushion thanks to flexy little grooves that move with your baby’s feet. The Soft Motion line is designed to mimic your sweetie’s natural movements (plus they’re APMA-approved, too).
One Reviewer Said: “These are so adorable! Very good for helping my daughter to pull up and take steps. She seems to pull up much easier than in other brands of shoe we have. Love these!”