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How to Choose Safe Baby Shoes

How to Choose Safe Baby Shoes

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about how to choose safe baby shoes. Some parents might look at your baby with concern if they see them barefoot, but newer guidelines talk about how being barefoot helps build arch strength. What’s a parent to do? It depends on a few things - their developmental stage, the activity/location, and the shoes themselves. Here are a few answers to the common questions many parents have about how to choose safe baby shoes!

When do babies need shoes?

When your infant is young and not yet walking, socks or booties are plenty to keep little feet protected when it’s too chilly for them to be barefoot. However, shoes can be a fun and harmless way to dress up a baby outfit for a special occasion! Just make sure those little feet are getting plenty of barefoot time to stretch and grow during your day-to-day routine.

According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the best time to start thinking about buying shoes is when your little one is learning to walk. At this point, shoes aren’t just a fun accessory - they’re also a way to protect their feet from potential hazards on the ground that could injure them, like sharp rocks or broken glass, as well as objects that might cause stubbed toes. At home or in safe environments, it’s still best for babies to learn how to walk barefoot as much as possible to help strengthen the feet and arches, so save the shoes for outside the house and special occasions. 

What materials are best?

For typical wear, look for baby shoes made of a soft, lightweight, flexible material (think as close to barefoot as possible while still providing protection). You may also want a rubber-grip sole if you have slippery floors. There are a couple ways to check if the shoes are flexible enough: you should still be able to feel your baby’s toes through the shoe and you should be able to bend the toe of the shoes about 40 degrees upward to ensure your baby has enough mobility as they explore. Baby feet also sweat a lot, so breathable materials such as leather or canvas are best.

Our soft-sole leather moccasins are a perfect option for protection and plenty of flexibility.

When should I switch to hard sole shoes?

When it comes to day-to-day wear, it’s smart to stick to soft-soled and barefoot until you have a confident and skilled walker. This is typically around 15 months, but development differs from child to child so it’s often easiest to observe how they’re moving and whether they’re ready for shoes. Of course, there’s no harm in dressing your baby in harder soles to protect them for a limited time, such as at a playground with mulch or for a family photo. 

When your babe is ready for hard soles, we have the sweetest hard-sole Mary Janes!

How do I know if they fit?

As with all children’s shoes, you want to make sure there’s a little “wiggle room” and space to grow. If you’re buying online, be sure to actually measure your babe’s feet and compare to the sizing chart since sizing varies by brand. Toes shouldn’t hit the front and nothing should be rubbing in a way that causes irritation or leaves marks. If you notice your little tripping frequently or limping, it’s a sign to try out something more comfortable.

If you’ve already tried putting shoes on your baby, then you already know they are notorious for magically getting them off. While slip-ons are convenient, once babies are actively walking, slip-ons often also become slip-offs. That’s why it’s best to choose a comfortable pair with a secure closure like laces or buckles if they’re cruising around or tend to take off their own shoes.


Have questions about how to pick out the right shoes for your little? Reach out - we’re happy to help!




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