Once your baby is up and about and comfortable walking, it might be time to start looking at shoes. While you don’t need to rush into this purchase straight away because it’s important toddlers feel comfortable walking around barefoot at home, they’ll need some footwear when you’re going out somewhere.
Surprisingly, toddler shoes can be expensive. You would think as they are smaller, using less material than adult shoes, then logically they should be a lot cheaper. But this isn’t always the case, as you need the right shoes which won’t hinder how they walk, and how their feet develop.
On the other hand, do toddlers really need expensive shoes, especially if they will outgrow them so quickly anyway. Let’s answer this question in more detail.
Why are toddler shoes so expensive?
Not all toddler shoes are expensive, only the good quality ones. Many parents see their children outgrow shoes so quickly that they go for cheaper options. However, the better quality shoes will be more durable and provide better support for your toddler’s feet. Here are some of the features you’ll find on better quality toddler shoes:
- A firm sole which only bends at the toes (this supports the whole foot much better)
- Good ankle support.
- An adjustable strap to stabilise the heel.
- Strong upper material to stop toddlers rolling in on their feet.
Are second hand shoes safe for toddlers?
In general it’s probably not a good idea. Firstly, you have to be sure they are exactly the right size for your toddler and they are not well-worn. You can easily damage your child’s feet if they wear the wrong shoes for a period of time, which could cause foot pain, blisters, damaged nails and even foot deformity. If they are poor quality shoes with a very flimsy and flexible sole, then this doesn’t give your child the support they need when they’re walking.
Do toddlers need expensive shoes?
Only you can decide what is best for you and your toddler. However, it’s important to realise how malleable and soft children’s feet are in the early years, and giving them the wrong footwear can cause some serious problems down the line. It’s probably far better to buy just 1 or 2 quality pairs of shoes from reputable brands, than 5 or 6 cheaper pairs.
What are the most comfortable shoes for toddlers?
Here is a comprehensive list of some of the best shoes for toddlers, for different situations and seasons.
If you’re buying a first shoe and your toddler has only just started walking, the Momo Baby Walker is a good choice, as it’s flexible, good grip on the sole, has very good customer feedback and it’s approved by the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association)
When should you buy toddler shoes?
Don’t rush into buying your toddler a pair of shoes. It’s important that they are comfortable walking unassisted and barefoot by themselves first. Once you put on their shoes, it will take them a while to get used to the sensation of having something covering their feet.
How often do toddlers need new shoes?
As frustrating as it might be, young children grow quickly, including their feet. For toddlers, this means you will need to change shoes every 2-3 months until they’re about 30 months, but after that you don’t need to do it quite as often.
How do you choose your toddler’s shoes?
Don’t just pick the flashiest pair of shoes you can find straight away. It’s important to consider some of the basic features your toddler will need from a shoe first:
- Look for fastenings that are adjustable, so you can get a bit more use out of the shoe as their feet grow. Velcro ones are super easy to take off and put on, or you can choose ones with a buckle.
- Choose a lightweight shoe. This will help your child start walking properly and they won’t get tired as quickly.
- Padded ankles. Some shoes have below and above the ankle support.
- Plenty of wriggle room. Don’t choose a shoe which is too tight.
- Leather on top. If you can choose a shoe with leather on the upper part this will keep your child’s feet cooler and more comfortable.
How do you know your toddler’s shoe size?
It’s always best to check your toddlers shoe size every few months as their feet can grow quickly. To measure their shoe size, you can use a foot measuring tool from their heel to the big toe. It’s perfectly normal for one foot to be slightly longer than the other, as this is quite common in adults too, but go by the biggest foot when picking a shoe size. If you’re in doubt, or your child’s feet are between sizes, always choose the slightly larger option. This will give a bit of wriggle room for your child’s feet and allow them to grow into their shoes.
You can also measure your toddler’s feet with a ruler, but again make sure you allow for a bit extra so the shoes aren’t too tight. Alternatively, you can measure them at a shoe shop from a professional fitter.
How much room should a toddler have in their shoes?
You don’t want shoes which are too tight as your child needs space to move their feet and grow into their footwear. On the other hand, shoes which are too big will also feel uncomfortable. Aim for around 1 – 1.5cm (around half an inch) of space in the shoe for your child to grow into.
Do toddlers need shoes with arch support?
In general, you shouldn’t need to worry about this as babies and toddlers won’t have arches yet. However, there are some possible exceptions when your toddler might need arch support and you’ll need to see a specialist for a professional opinion.
- Your toddler’s feet are particularly stiff and not that flexible.
- If they complain about leg or foot pain when they’re walking in shoes.
- You have a history of flat feet in your family.
- Redness after walking.
Now some of these reasons might be caused by shoes which are too small, or just not the right fit. But if you notice these issues with different pairs of shoes, and they are good quality ones, it might be time to visit a podiatrist.
Should toddlers wear shoes all the time?
Once your toddler is up and about and walking independently, as a parent you might be tempted to put shoes on them all the time. However, try to only use shoes when necessary. Around the home and in the garden, especially in the summer, you can still encourage them to walk around barefoot. Only use shoes when it’s necessary, particularly in the beginning as their feet are still soft and malleable. In fact, some podiatrists recommend toddlers should only walk barefoot, and put off wearing shoes as long as possible. Of course, that sounds fine in theory, but you don’t have much choice if you’re going to the high street or the park!
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.