Best Shoes for Toddlers & Babies Learning to Walk

How often do you see a child sitting quietly? It is a fact of life that toddlers are on their feet for most of the day. A great pair of shoes will help to protect their little feet no matter where their day (or feet) take them. Concerned about finding the best shoes for toddlers? Well, read on.

Do toddlers really need the best shoes? I mean, they are going to wear them out in a few short months anyway, right? A great pair of shoes will not only be durable and comfortable, but they will protect your child’s feet from long-term foot damage. When you are looking at shoes for your toddler, you are not looking for a throwaway item because you need to; you are looking for apparel which will aid their growth and exploration because you want to.

There are many things to look for in any pair of shoes, but I am going to cut through the misinformation and fluff to tell you what you need, not what you want. The style and color can be significant to your child, but, ultimately, you need to be thinking about the performance, durability, comfort, and support. Pink shoes are not going to soothe sore feet, and blue shoes are not going to give great arch support. So, what should you be looking for?

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Best Shoes for Toddlers with Wide Feet

Does Size Matter

The size of the shoe is critical. Do not make the same mistake that I made and buy a size bigger (the shoes will last longer, right?). The shoes did last longer, but for about six months they were constantly rubbing, falling off, and being a general nuisance. When you are looking at shoes for your toddler, always buy the size that fits (unless you are buying for the future and not using them until then).

This is also an important part of your toddler’s development. They are only just learning to walk. This is a skill which they are going to carry with them through life. If you have them wearing shoes of the wrong size, it can actually inhibit their development. You do not want to hold your child back for the sake of saving a little time or money on the wrong shoes.

I recommend going into a kids’ shoe shop and having your toddler’s feet measured. You should do this every time you are buying shoes (their feet grow so quickly). Make sure to measure their feet with their socks on (they are going to be wearing socks with their shoes after all). You should also have your child standing when they are having their feet measured. This is the position in which they are mainly going to be wearing their shoes. The position of our feet can vary slightly between standing and sitting, so it is always best to be standing when measuring.

If you do not find shoes in the correct width, then not only will you have a screaming child, but you will also be damaging their poor little feet. Getting the width right is integral to the comfort of your child. The width of a toddler’s feet is as varied as the length. When you are having their feet measured, make sure to pay attention to the width as well as the length. Once you are armed with the correct measurements, you can begin to delve into the world that is children’s shoes.

Old vs New

Now that you have your child’s feet measured, can you really just walk out and go find a used pair? It can be tempting to take hand-me-downs or look for cheap shoes on marketplace websites, but is it worth the money saved?

The truth is that you get what you pay for. That is not to say that you should always choose new shoes over the old. If you have a great pair of hand-me-downs from a child who has taken care of their shoes, those shoes are going to be more valuable than a cheap pair of new shoes from a large store.

Most toddler shoes take a beating as they are used. For that reason, I would always recommend investing in a good quality pair of new shoes. Having said that, there may be times when you can find a like-new pair of shoes at a consignment store or handed down from another child.

It is often hard to part with the cash when you know that your child will outgrow the shoes in a few short months, but it really is worth it to support your child with the best footwear. With most clothing, you only need some fabric to cover your child, but with shoes, you are actually protecting and supporting their feet.

How Do You Get the Perfect Fit?

You should have your child try on as many shoes as you have the patience for. If your child is anything like mine, then this will be their favorite part (I think that our record is 23 pairs in one day). Each time you try on a shoe, you should pay attention to how your toddler reacts. They may not be able to communicate exactly how the shoe feels, but you will get some indication of the fit. Have them run around in the shoes and observe how they react.

The main indicator of a good fit is a little wiggle room for the big toe. Have your toddler wiggle their toes and check that they are not rubbing against the front of the shoe. You can also pinch the toe of the shoe to check how much room is between the toes and the tip of the shoe. You should also make sure that the fit is snug at the heel and sides but not constrictive. Too loose and the shoe material will rub against your child’s foot. Too tight and the shoe will constrict the foot and be uncomfortable.

Function Over Style

I have been there, and I get it. Why can’t we buy the sparkly shoes with the heels instead of the boring flat shoes? Why can we not buy the pair of cowboy boots and ride off into the sunset instead of the boring (yet comfortable) black sneakers? I have to admit, that when I am buying shoes for myself, I often go for style over functionality, and, you know what? I pay for it later. When buying shoes for your toddler, you should cajole them towards the shoes which are going to provide the comfort, protection, and functionality.

Toddlers are just learning to walk. Shoes with heels, cowboy boots, etc., are not going to provide the support needed to get your child on their feet and exploring the world. Some shoes may look amazing, but that is where their charm ends.

Are They a Material Girl (or Boy)?

I have already talked about getting what you pay for, and a large part of this is in the material which you choose. If you go to any big brand store and find the shoe department, you will see rows and rows of plastic shoes (or some other synthetic material). When it comes to the material, you are going to want to invest in quality, and this may even save you money over time.

If you do choose to buy a cheap pair of shoes, you are going to save money initially, but those shoes are going to break and fall apart. Then you have to buy another pair. And another pair. If you invest in a high-quality pair of shoes from the outset, they are going to last until your toddler needs their next pair of shoes. They are also going to be more comfortable for your child.

Looking for natural materials is a good idea. Canvas, cloth, and leather are all breathable. Toddler’s feet generate a lot of sweat, so a natural material will give that moisture somewhere to go. These materials are also breathable and will keep your toddler’s feet cool in the hotter months. I would recommend bending the shoes in your hand. If they are flexible, then have your toddler try them on. If they are stiff and rigid, then imagine how they will feel when your toddler is running around.

How Should They Fasten?

You know your child better than anyone else. Do they often take off their socks and shoes? If your toddler is going to be taking off their new shoes every two minutes, then you will want to opt for buckles or laces. The choice between the two is up to you, but I recommend buying shoes with laces long enough to tie in a double not.

Of course, there is another way you can go with this. Maybe, your child likes to take shoes off to put them back on again, or perhaps they are able to put their own shoes on. If this is the case, then you will want to choose Velcro strips. You may have to deal with shoes coming off all of the time, but you will be giving your toddler some independence too (and children love that).

Choosing the Final Product

My child is strong-willed, and they always want to have the final say with the choice of shoes, so here is my tried and tested method to cajole (ahem, trick) them into thinking that they have the final say.

After you have tried on a million pairs of shoes, narrow it down to all of the shoes which are functional, comfortable, parent approved, and in your price range. You now lay out all of the shoes and have your toddler pick the one they like the best (make sure to tell them that they only get one choice). When you leave the store, they will have felt as if they have had to make the most important decision (always remember to congratulate them on their choice).

Pro Tips For Checking the Fit

You will not really know if the fit is perfect until your child has had time to try out the shoes. Once they have worn them for a few days, here are some things which you can look for.

  • When you take the shoes off, are there red marks on your child’s foot? If there are pronounced lines, then the shoes may be fitting too tightly
  • Is your child constantly removing the shoes? If they are, then they may be fitting wrong. Of course, this could also be for any number of reasons (the mind of a toddler is a difficult thing to fathom)

When you are buying shoes for your toddler, you should do so in the afternoon. Your toddler’s feet (and your own) are smaller in the morning. As we go about our day, our feet swell. If you buy shoes in the morning, you may find that they do not fit very well later in the day.


Buying shoes for your toddler is not a task to be taken lightly. I have given you all of the information which I wished I had had when buying toddler shoes so that you do not make any of the same mistakes I did. Taking the time to read through the guide and absorbing the information will help you to make an informed choice, and one which goes beyond just a nice pair of shoes for your child.

As your toddler grows and develops, you want to be there to support them in any way that you can. The best pair of shoes will have a long-lasting effect on your child. This simple purchase will give your child a head start in life, and aid them in a lot more than just learning to walk.

Shoes are one of the most important purchases which you can make for your toddler. Take the time to know what you want and what you need. Think about the needs of your child and choose what is right for them.

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