You really don’t need to choose a first pair of shoes for your baby until he or she begins to show signs of wanting to walk. Before they begin pulling themselves up to take those first steps, babies feet are generally better off if you let them grow naturally without being confined in shoes. You might want a cute pair of soft infant shoes for photographs and special occasions, but your baby’s feet are better left to grow without restrictions in those first few months.
When your baby begins wanting to take those first steps, those little feet will need more protection. Socks alone will be too slippery, especially on kitchen floors and other uncarpeted areas. Look for soft leather or rubber soles that will provide the traction your baby’s feet need without being so firm that they don’t bend easily.
Experts say that there is little difference between pliable leather and baby sneakers constructed of canvas and rubber. The important thing to look for is materials that will permit the shoe to mold to your individual child’s foot. This will make for a much better fit, which will in turn give your child’s foot the best support.
Those high-topped shoes that parents used to bronze when they were outgrown are not especially recommended. The high “boot” can be uncomfortable when it rubs against the ankles, and it does no more to support your baby’s foot than a good low cut shoe.
Avoid sandals for babies just beginning to walk. The open toe of a sandal provides no protection for the front of the foot and it can catch against things, tripping the baby. Stay away from the “Croc” type of shoe for young walkers, as well. These shoes tend to slip on the foot and don’t provide good support.
Although family and friends may offer to give you their outgrown baby shoes it is better for your baby if you purchase new shoes. Shoes that have been worn have conformed to another child’s foot. They will never fit your child correctly, even if they seem to be the proper size.
When purchasing new shoes for your baby or toddler, be just as aware of the width as you are of the length. Baby feet tend to be wide. If the edges of the shoe where the laces are do not form a parallel line, then the shoe may be too narrow. This can pinch your baby’s foot.
When trying on baby shoes, be sure to bring along the kind of sock the baby will be wearing with shoes. Be alert to the amount of space between the foot and the shoe both in the front and the back. There should be up to half an inch of space at the front of the shoe, and enough space to insert your pinky finger half an inch or so at the heel.
Be sure to put both shoes on your baby and let him or her walk around the store for a few minutes. Watch for any signs of discomfort before you buy your baby’s first shoes.