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Should babies wear shoes?

Close up of baby's bare feet

Baby feet are one of life’s most treasured wonders. What parent has not massaged and kissed those little feet within moments of birth? In fact, counting fingers and toes is one of the very first health checks the midwife does. So it stands to reason that feet are a focal point for many new parents and shoes are an exciting purchase.

Are baby shoes necessary?

Winter babies will want to have their feet covered to keep warm, but babies love to kick and rub their heels, and socks will rarely stay in place without some additional support.

In the early days when out on winter walks, you can keep baby toes warm with socks and soft leather slippers designed with an elasticated back to hold the foot and slipper in place. During the first year of life, a baby is growing extraordinarily quickly, so it’s important that their clothes and shoes give them as much comfort and room as possible. Barefoot is best with very young babies, as harder shoes at this stage of development can damage the soft cartilage in the baby’s foot. The softest materials are best and baby shoes at this stage are only needed for warmth and protection.

Just like with shoes, socks must fit. With very young children, if socks are too tight, they will cramp the foot, restrict the blood supply and can compromise natural development. If socks are too big, they can bunch up and cause blisters.

Are shoes good for babies?

If you would like your baby to wear a more complete ‘outfit’, and you’re looking for shoes, then while your little one is still spending lots of time sitting or lying down ask for ‘pre-walking’ shoes at a quality, independent shoe shop. They will ensure you get the correct fit and support for this stage of development. Feet at this stage are still mainly soft tissue and cartilage which means they are very soft and pliable and not designed to take any pressure from standing. Start-Rite baby shoes use supple materials that offer gentle protection and maximum flexibility for little feet that discover crawling during early exploration. To ensure your baby has the correct fitting shoes, at this stage we recommend measuring their feet every 6-8 weeks.

At around nine months your baby will start to pull itself up on furniture and attempt their first steps. Socks can make the floor feel like a slippery surface and your baby needs to use all its senses to learn about its relationship with balance and co-ordination. So, at this stage barefoot is still best. The time for shoes will come when you are heading outside with a pram and your little one is keen to get out and explore the world upright. At this point, you still need to choose their shoes carefully. The right shoes will enable a child to explore and find their freedom while still developing and growing healthily.

When can babies wear soft-bottom shoes?

It's sometimes tricky to know when you should buy first walking shoes, we advise when your child starts to explore the outdoors on two feet. Then it’s time to look for more protection.

Bones are going through ossification, but ligaments still haven't fully formed, so feet are still soft and vulnerable. During this stage, the child is busy discovering relationships between their body and the environment so shoes must allow natural movement with the right level of support and protection. This allows them to develop naturally, gain the right level of feedback from the terrain beneath their feet and protect them throughout all their exploring.

Our first shoes support little feet that are learning and promise instant comfort, streamlined protection and perfectly positioned flexibility for all day freedom. These shoes have rounded toe bumpers, a padded ankle, cushioned insoles and scuff-proof heel and toe bumpers. Super soft leather and ultra-flexible lightweight soles protect from the terrain underneath while allowing for maximum natural movement. To ensure your toddler has the correct fitting shoes we recommend measuring their feet every 6-8 weeks.