For many parents, purchasing that first pair of walking shoes is a momentous occasion. It marks a milestone as kids transition from crawling to walking.

Selecting the right shoes is crucial for your child's comfort and foot development, however. Here are some of our tips to consider when buying to ensure you choose the best possible footwear for your little one.

Go for High-Quality Materials

While they might not fit for long as your child grows, that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the quality. The materials used in children’s shoes should be soft and breathable to ensure comfort and prevent irritation.

Leather and high-grade canvas are excellent choices as they allow feet to breathe and are flexible enough to accommodate natural foot movement. Avoid materials that are too rigid and synthetic fabrics that may hinder air circulation. These could lead to discomfort or unhealthy foot conditions.

Ensure a Flexible Sole

Flexibility in the sole of the shoe is critical for developing feet. The sole should allow your child to feel the ground beneath them, which is a vital part of the development of a natural, healthy gait.

  • You can test the flexibility by bending the shoe at the sole.
  • It should bend easily at the ball of the foot.
  • Ensure the sole has enough texture to prevent slipping as your child explores different surfaces.

Look for a Good Fit

A properly fitting shoe is essential for comfort and foot health. Shoes that are too tight can constrict growing feet and cause issues such as blisters or ingrown toenails (even at this young age), whereas shoes that are too loose may increase the risk of tripping.

  • To ensure a good fit, check that there is a thumb's width between the end of the shoe and the end of your child's longest toe.
  • Make sure there is adequate room for the toes to wiggle but not enough space to allow the foot to slide around inside the shoe.

Shoes with Supportive Features

While children's shoes need to be flexible, they also require certain structures to support the foot correctly. Look for shoes with a padded heel collar to support the ankle and ensure the heel sits securely without slipping. A firm but flexible heel counter (the part of the shoe that wraps around the back of the heel) can also help stabilise young walkers. Again, avoid overly rigid structures, as these can hinder foot development.

Adjustable Shoes for Growing Feet

Children's feet grow quickly, as you are about to find out. Adjustable shoes can accommodate this growth and prolong the life of the footwear, saving you money in the long term. Shoes with adjustable closures such as Velcro straps or laces allow you to modify the fit as needed, ensuring comfort and support as your child's feet grow.

A child’s first walking shoes should be comfortable and easy to wear. Complicated fastenings or shoes that are difficult to put on will frustrate both parent and child. Lightweight shoes with a simple design are ideal, as they shouldn’t encumber your kid’s feet but should allow for easy movement.

By choosing the right shoes, you can provide a solid foundation for your child’s walking and ensure they step forward with confidence and comfort. Finally, it's always a good idea to have your child’s feet measured by a professional in a children's shoe store to guarantee the best fit and support.

April 18, 2024 — Matilda Wilkinson