first steps


When babies are walking indoors and outdoors unaided for much of the day, their feet need more support and protection. They are now ready for their first walking shoes.

It's an emotional moment seeing your child in their first pair of walking shoes, but make sure you combine style, quality and fit. Never compromise on fit, because a toddler's nerve endings are not developed yet so they may not notice or feel pain or discomfort caused by ill-fitting shoes, and may not be able to complain even if they do.

'At this young age, the bones in their feet are not fully formed, so it's vital to get things right to give them the best chance of trouble-free feet for life.'


Children develop walking skills at different times and your child's first steps may take place at any time between seven months and two years of age. Things are a bit wobbly to start with, but improvements will come soon enough.

Here are some activities to help your toddler develop:

  • Walking on uneven surfaces like sand makes muscles work harder and is good for feet. It's also a nice soft landing!
  • Climbing is also great for coordination, independence and muscle development - let them exercise by climbing onto the sofa or up the stairs (carefully supervised, of course).
  • For less active babies, play a game of 'Catch me' - crawl on the floor so they follow you.

Choose shoes designed specifically for this stage, like Start-rite's first walking shoes, with all the following features:

  • Whole and half sizes in up to five width fittings from D to H, to ensure the best possible fit.
  • Secure fasteners so that your child does not have to curl their toes to keep their shoes on properly.
  • Rip tape fasteners which are generally quicker and easier to attach than buckles, to make life easier for busy parents.
  • Softest leather uppers so that they don't rub, and mould to the contours of the feet.
  • High quality leather for maximum durability.
  • Breathable linings for increased comfort, allowing perspiration to escape through the surface of the shoe.
  • Lightweight, flexible non-slip soles so walking feels natural to the toddler, because it's difficult enough getting around anyway!
  • A shoe designed to match the shape of a child's foot, with a wide front and narrow heel.
  • Built in growing room around the toes, to allow for growth.

At this age, children's feet can grow really quickly so you should plan to check the fit of the shoes every six - eight weeks.