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When should I buy first walking shoes?

First walking shoes

We often get asked when the right time is to buy your little one's first walking shoes. We’ve put together a Q&A that we hope answers some all-important questions.

When should I get my baby walking shoes?

The best time to look for shoes is when your baby starts to explore the outdoors on two feet. That is the correct time to look for more protection. Until then, barefoot is best for healthy development. Baby feet are made up of mainly soft tissue and cartilage which means they are incredibly soft and flexible. In the early stages of development, they are not designed to take any pressure from standing, and pressure from shoes or even tight socks may deform the foot during development. A baby’s feet grow naturally and develop to their best potential if left well alone. Until your baby is crawling there is no need to protect their silky soft feet. We do understand in some situations your baby’s feet may need protection, so look for crib or pram shoes that are made from super soft material.

When your little one starts their crawling journey, look for shoes with highly supple materials that offer gentle protection and maximum flexibility for this early exploration. Take a look at our baby shoes.

Should babies wear shoes when they start walking?

As your baby develops, its bones are going through ossification, but ligaments still haven't fully formed, so feet are still soft and vulnerable. Walking will occur when your baby is personally ready and is determined by when the feet, legs and spine are all strong enough to start bearing weight. This is instinctive for each child and occurs at different times. Don’t panic if other babies are walking and yours is not! It’s important that babies pass through each developmental stage before embarking on the next and they will do this in their own time. There is no rule on how quickly a baby should pass through their developmental stage and certainly no awards for racing through them before anyone else! Try to enjoy each stage as it comes. If your baby is pulling themselves up and taking their first tentative steps inside the house on internal flooring, then there is still no need for shoes.

First walking shoes

When should I buy my baby walking shoes?

Buy your baby walking shoes when they are beginning to explore the outdoors on two feet and need more protection. At this stage the toddler still needs to have as much contact with the ground as they can, for sensory input allowing them to develop their critical connections between their receptors and the brain to form coordination skills and sensorimotor activity. During this stage, the child is busy discovering relationships between their body and the environment. Shoes must allow natural movement with the right level of support and protection for toddlers’ unique soft and lightly structured feet. 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.

At this stage your baby is developing and growing at a rate of knots! To ensure your toddler has the correct fitting shoes we recommend measuring their feet every six to eight weeks.

In 2021 we undertook research with 500 UK parents which revealed only half (57%) of parents with toddlers are confident they know the size of their children’s feet, 61% of parents with toddlers had found their children were wearing the wrong size shoes and over half (53%) had felt guilty to find their toddler’s shoes had rubbed their feet sore.

First walking shoes

What to look for in first steps shoes?

1. SHAPE: Shoes that are designed specifically for the shape of a child’s foot. It is very important that children do not wear styles created for adult feet, reduced to a child’s size.

2. GROWING ROOM: Rounded toe with added growing room to allow for growth of developing muscles, ligaments and bones.

3. PRECISION FIT: Whole and half sizes and multi-width fittings to ensure the best possible fit.

4. BREATHABILITY: Breathable linings for maximum comfort, allowing perspiration to escape through the surface of the shoe.

5. SECURITY: Secure rip-tape fasteners to give toddlers control and peace of mind they are not curling their toes to keep their shoes on.

6. SOFTNESS: High grade leather for extra durability.

7. SUPPORT: Padded ankle support and cushioned insoles with outsoles designed to be supple, flexible and allow the foot to form naturally to help with stability at this early stage of gait development.

8. LIGHTWEIGHT: Lightweight and flexible soles to allow natural easy movement to gain the right level of feedback from the terrain beneath their feet so the foot can perform naturally as an important influencer in overall physical development.

10. BUMP-PROOF: Scuff-proof heel and tow bumpers without adding weight or bulk.

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