When your child has started walking and you’re looking for shoes, there are a lot of options out there. Looking for a few specific qualities will help you choose the best shoes for toddlers.
You’ll want some booties or socks for getting around the house. Even once babies have started walking, it’s a good idea for them to spend time either barefoot or as close to barefoot as possible, to help develop their sense of balance as well as muscle control. You might want to look for something with nonskid feet, or with elastic closures at the ankle to help keep the booties from coming off.
Of course, you’ll want to keep making sure your toddler wears socks with shoes as well, to help protect from blisters and to keep feet from sweating too much. As part of keeping your toddler’s feet comfortable and dry, look for shoes from a lighter, breathable material, like soft leather or fabric, and not rubber or plastic. Sandals are okay as long as the sole is flexible and the main part of the sandal stays on the foot well, though you’ll often want closed shoes for safety. Flip-flops aren’t a good idea at this age, and neither are clogs. As cute as high-fashion and designer shoes can be for toddlers, it’s better to focus on utility at this point. You can still find something that looks nice.
Flexibility and a certain level of support are key for toddlers who are still gaining confidence in walking. The ball of the foot should bend easily, since that’s where most of the foot movement will be, but the middle should be stiffer and more stable. The soles should be lighter. For fabric or leather soles, you’ll want something that isn’t too slippery, and for rubber soles, you’ll want to make sure they’re light enough without being too flimsy. Nonslip soles are very important, especially for beginning walkers.
For sizing, it’s better to get shoes that fit now rather than ones you child will have to grow into. Though it’s understandable to want to get some more time out of each pair of shoes, shoes that are too big will make walking more difficult and can become a major tripping hazard. An important part to watch is the heel, to make sure it’s not pinching or slipping. Have your child try the shoes on, the same way you would, and make sure they are comfortable. The best shoes for toddlers are the ones that are functional, appropriate for your child’s walking skills, and that he or she likes wearing.