Often this one of the most exciting and memorable moments for parents – and simultaneously the most stressful! Suddenly your child’s world is a lot more accessible, which takes baby-proofing and safety to a new level. One of the most important aspects of safety for your newly minted toddler is their footwear – the Baby Walking Shoes.
Baby Walking Shoes – Timing is Everything
How and when you approach the subject of shoes is equally important to the type of shoe you purchase for your toddler. Baby walking shoes are a source of protection for baby’s feet during times when navigating may be unsafe; however, the prevailing wisdom tells us it’s best if babies learn balance and control of their stride while barefoot.
Simply put, their anatomy and center of gravity are going through drastic change and development around this time.
Being barefoot is the most natural state for your child, and one in which they can focus on their gross motor skills unencumbered.
Giving your child as much “barefoot time” as you can offers the most flexibility and range of motion in the foot, and allows your child to explore and refine their newfound skills with nothing between them and the ground.
With the above in mind, there are times when barefoot isn’t best. Toddlers may spend time walking on tile or hardwood floors, where they will need some traction to keep from slipping and falling. Toddlers may also spend more time outside, where they may want to explore terrain that is less stable, such as uneven ground, concrete, or areas with sticks or rocks that may hurt the soles of their feet. While exploring in these conditions, it is appropriate for your new toddler to have flexible, protective footwear designed for the earliest stage of walking.
Before you head out and buy new baby walking shoes for your child, make sure he or she is ready to start taking on the world.
Most babies need six weeks or more of practice before they begin to feel confident on their feet.
During this period, it’s better if their walking be confined to safe, stable areas where they can work on their new skills and gain the confidence they will need to take on more challenging terrain in the weeks to come.
As with all things, every baby is different, and no one knows their child better than mom and dad. Watch your child’s progress; when they seem to have mastered the first stage of balance and coordination, celebrate this great milestone with a trip to pick out their first pair of new baby walking shoes!
Getting Started with Baby Walking Shoes
It may surprise you to learn that new walkers have considerably different needs from their older toddling counterparts. This is due to the physical changes babies go through as they begin to walk more frequently and strengthen the muscles associated with walking.
The market is full of different options, materials and products for beginning walkers, and it can at first seem a little overwhelming. Fortunately, here you will find access to all the information you need, making it easy to select shoes based on your child’s stage of walking, narrow down your selections, and find the best fit for your toddler.
Baby Walking Shoes – Just the Right Fit
The best way to get your baby started wearing baby walking shoes is to have a properly fitted, comfortable shoe that will keep them moving and keep those little feet protected!
- To start, it’s best to plan a visit to a shoe store specializing in shoes for children.
A knowledgeable fitter can help you identify shoes that will work for your child, and find that shoe in the size that will fit best. There are a few things you should know about fitting baby walking shoes for your little one:
Breathability of baby walking shoes
Did you know babies’ feet can sweat up to twice as much as adult feet?
Babies sweat as part of their overall cooling mechanism, and tend to sweat more because in their first years, metabolism is burning energy at a high rate to fuel all that growth. Obviously, with this potential for making some serious moisture, you’ll want to choose shoes for you toddler that are very breathable and comfortable.
Besides being best for their health, babies with cool, comfortable feet are much more likely to keep their shoes on! Leather offers great breathability for hot feet, as well as being durable and offering great protection for baby as he or she explores the world. Canvas, similarly, is very breathable and protects from all manner of obstacles along the way.
Another way to ensure baby’s feet stay dry and comfortable is to make sure the baby walking shoes are always matched with a proper pair of socks.
Socks allow the foot to move comfortably in the shoe without creating chafing, which can lead to some fairly uncomfortable blisters for your little one.
You want to be sure baby doesn’t associate shoes with this painful chafing.
This association will make it more difficult to get them wearing shoes on a regular basis. As with the shoes you select for them, make sure the socks on their feet are made of a highly breathable, comfortable material in natural fibers.
Flexibility of baby walking shoes
Naturally, the most important part of the baby walking shoes is the sole! The soles of baby walking shoes come in a host of different materials, so you want to be sure to select the right kind when you head out on your first shopping trip.
For a first stage walker who is only just mastering the fine art of two-legged transportation, you’ll want to find baby walking shoes that comes as close to their comfortable, barefoot state as possible.
- Opt for baby walking shoes with a lot of flexibility, such as soft-soled shoe similar in style to a baby bootie.
Remember, the main function of a shoe at this age is not support; its prime function is to protect those precious feet from obstacles while they hone their skills. As baby gets older and learns to navigate better, you’ll want to move from a bootie-style shoe to something with a closed heel, offering a bit more ankle support.
Shape and Size of baby walking shoes
The shape of a shoe’s sole is important in ensuring your child is comfortable in their new shoes.
- One thing to look for – the sole of the shoe should have straight (rather than inwardly curved) sides.
As mentioned earlier, baby’s first shoes are not about support; therefore, their shoe should not make accommodation for an arch.
Your baby will not begin to develop arches until they are a little older and the muscles develop, around two years of age. For first shoes, the sole should accommodate the natural shape of a baby’s foot, which tends to be round and flat thanks to fat deposits in the soles of the feet meant to protect baby during their early ambulatory development.
One hint on fitting baby for their first shoes: Many parents will leave the child sitting in a stroller or a chair while they tie on those new shoes. This makes sense, since getting shoes on a wiggly (and suddenly very mobile) baby can be quite the task! To get a true sense of how the shoes fit your baby, however, you should always fit shoes with the child standing up, so the full weight of their body will rest upon their feet. This causes the foot to displace as with walking. Doing so will ensure there is enough room for your child’s foot to expand comfortably into the shoe.
- The shoe should also be long enough to comfortably accommodate baby’s toes.
A quick rule is to leave about one-half inch of available space between the front of the toe and the inside of the shoe. This will allow baby some room to wiggle those toes and gain balance, as well as allowing them to stay in the shoe a little longer than trying to make due with footwear that fits snugly.
The Test Driving Baby Walking Shoes
As the song goes, “These shoes were made for walking.”
- Perhaps the most important part of your trip – give your child a chance to walk around in their new shoes for a while before you make your purchase.
- Get a sense for their enjoyment of the baby walking shoes, their comfort level, and for their ability to wear the shoes without tripping or catching them on things as they navigate their environment. Also, keep an eye on those baby walking shoes.
- Be sure they stay in place while your little one explores. Baby walking shoes that slip at the heel are more likely to cause an accident, or at very least cause uncomfortable rubbing.
Taking a few minutes to let your child explore with their new treads will give you a sense for their ability to move about, and more importantly, notice any complaints about discomfort before you leave with your purchases.
The best baby walking shoes in the world won’t help your walker stay protected if you can’t keep it on their feet. It helps to remember, on top of the new sensation of walking unassisted, moving around the world with shoes on is a whole new experience for your newly-minted toddler, one that may take a little getting used to! It helps to have a shoe that is easy to put on (and keep on) to make the transition into the world of footwear easier.
- Opt for a shoe with easy enclosure, such as velcro.
While those lace up sneakers may look adorable on the store shelves, you may find it difficult to get them laced up if your little one is less than enthusiastic about the concept of footwear.
Another idea that helps many new walkers to develop enthusiasm for footwear is choice. Even as young as a year, babies show discernment in their selection of items – toys, foods, and favorite comfort items such as dolls or blankets. Clothing is no different. If you are finding it difficult to get your little one on board with wearing shoes while out and about (or even exploring rooms in your home) it may help to give them a limited selection of shoes to choose from – perhaps two or three pair. When your toddler can select his or her favorite shoe, it may help them to take ownership of the process and give them a sense of pride at wearing their favorites.
Here We Grow Again
Babies grow right before your eyes, and that includes their feet! Your toddler may grow out of his or her shoes once every two to four months. Naturally, this means heading back to the store to be fitted with new shoes. It’s important to check for fit every time your child goes into a new shoe size, as their feet may have changed during the course of growth, rather than just increasing in size. Shoes that may have worked well at one size may no longer be appropriate for your child, so it is important to give the new, larger-sized shoes a full fit and test drive. Don’t be shy about making changes to the brand or shape of the shoe as necessary.
In closing, a quick note on price – It is far more important for your child to find a great-fitting shoe than to wear the “best” shoes, meaning those with a high price tag or a designer label. Babies outgrow shoes in the blink of an eye, so shopping for a great fit should take precedence over a great brand. That being said, spending the money on a shoe that fits them well is never a wasted investment, and so the best course of action is to get the help of a professional who can ensure your child gets just what they need, at a price in line with the expected life of the shoe.