Are you looking for the best baby shoes for early walkers? If your baby is walking on the earlier side, you’re probably wondering what shoes you should put them in. This guide will take you through the research-backed top picks for the best walking shoes for your baby’s first pair of shoes. Let’s dive in!
It’s a momentous occasion when your baby takes their first steps. It is such an exciting milestone for us as parents and marks a big transition in our toddler’s lives. I remember being so excited when both of my boys took their first steps.
So, when it comes to shoes, if they’re mostly inside, you’ll want to keep them in bare feet as much as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that barefoot is best for foot development. Little feet are too often squished into shoes that often aren’t the right size far too soon. It’s better for their balance, strength, coordination, and foot development.
Dr. Kacie Flegal, a vitalistic chiropractor, wrote “One of the simplest ways to motivate proprioceptive and vestibular development is to let our babies be barefoot as much as possible.”
All that said, there are still plenty of situations in which your new walker needs to be in shoes! Like public places for instance. Let’s be practical — it’s not the best idea to let them walk in bare feet through parking lots or down the aisles of Target! For these instances, you’ll want them in supportive shoes that check all the right boxes. It’s a good idea to do your research first before buying a pair!
Picking the best shoes for early walkers isn’t as hard as you might think! There are a few key points to hit (more on that here) when picking that first pair of shoes.
Below are my top 10 picks for new shoes for early walkers. I aimed to hit a variety of price points as possible while considering the best shoe structure for little kiddos.
The Top 10 Best Baby Shoes For Early Walkers
Colors: 5 available
Shipping: Free shipping over $75
Ranging from size 3-6 and coming in five color options, Ten Little’s First Walkers are perfect for new walkers and little feet. If your child’s foot is bigger, you can size up to the similar but more durable Everyday Original Sneaker ($44).
They are approved by the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) and designed in partnership with Dr. Farah Alani, DPM — an award-winning podiatrist and Dr. Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP — a nationally recognized pediatrician.
The first walker shoes have a velcro closure, a flexible sole (a key, important factor), and a wide toe box. These are some of the best more minimalist style shoes you can buy for your little ones. I loved these as my baby’s first shoes and I’d dare to say they are my family’s favorite shoes for our kids.
What I Love: The non slip tongue of the shoe also pulls out significantly far making it so easy to get the shoe on and off of your baby’s feet. I loved this feature as a parent trying to get shoes on little feet. Both of my kids walked around 12 months and this shoe was by far the easiest to get on their feet. It’s hard to pick the best thing about these… they are all around a 10/10 for me.
Ten Little also make great toddler shoes, among other things, that make them a great long term choice for your baby’s feet. I also like that their “boys” and “girl” styles are mostly the same – they just come in different color options. These are an overall great option and my top pick for best baby walking shoes.
- Development by pediatric podiatrist for healthy foot development
- Curated color options
- Good size range
- Made of cotton
- Can keep the same style of older kids and toddler shoes too
- Can get two different sizes in the same pair (for example, if your child wears a brace on their right foot)
- Easy to get the perfect fit
- Only one style – solid colors only
Price: $35.95 – $51.99
Colors: 18+ depending on the retailer
Shipping: Varies based on retailer
Another really popular choice is from See Kai Run. It is the Stevie II First Walkers designed specifically for babies and toddlers who are just learning to walk.
They are also made with a breathable material so they are great for warmer weather too. The See Kai Run Stevie II has been awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association.
They have a rubber sole which makes them ideal for navigating outside terrain. See Kai Runs shoes have a wide toe box with a rubber cap at the tip of the shoe that offers extra protection. This shoe also has a wide opening and features fake shoelaces while securing the shoe to your baby’s foot with a velcro strap.
What I Loved: The shoelaces are stretchy so it’s easy to get your toddlers foot in and out. My son had no problems walking in these. I also liked that there were different styles available! The non-skid soles are also nice if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
These come in sizes 3-6 (though, sizes 4-10 are on Amazon) and a variety of colors and styles to choose from.
- Good for wide and chubby feet
- Many color and print options
- Cute styles for a baby boy or baby girl
- Potentially expensive depending on retailer
Sizes: 3-6 (including WIDE fits!)
Colors: 18+ depending on the retailer
Shipping: Varies based on retailer
Stride Rite makes several great options for first walkers. They offer many different color options and a few different styles so you’ll likely find something that matches your vibe. They have some bright and cute styles for a little girl and more toned down styles as well for a neutral-loving family.
The Stride Rite styles, in my opinion, are a less expensive option to go for. However, they don’t have the longevity of other brands on this list such as Ten Little or See Kai Run.
In My Experience: Our Stride Rite shoes were always falling apart within a few weeks of wear. So that’s definitely something to take into account if your child is in shoes a lot of the time (like from going to day care, for example). When my oldest son was in daycare (pictured above), we had 3 pairs of Stride Rite’s that we rotated through.
- Include wide fits
- Variety of styles
- Lower priced options
- Might not last as long as other shoes/fall apart more easily
- More rigid sole
The top styles for first walkers from Stride Rite are:
Shop Stride Rite at Target (some options as low as $10 at time of publication)
Sizes: 0-18 months
Colors: 16 total
Shipping: Free over $75
If your baby needs a different kind of shoes for indoor use, the best shoes option would be these Ten Little baby booties. These are great for babies’ feet and the sizing makes it easy to get the right fit.
These are soft and allow your child’s foot to move freely. They’re great for tiny feet, wide feet, and flat feet too. They have an adjustable double-snap strap that allows for a secure fit. They are great “crib shoes” so to speak and are flexible shoes for small, developing feet.
The bottoms are cushioned and have a non-slip design that helps keep them steady on their feet. They are made with a lightweight material and are a flexible shoe that won’t hinder your baby’s foot growth.
In My Experience: I loved these for the months leading up to when my son started to walk and for a few months after. They were easy to get on and off and for the most part actually stayed on his feet. Which is huge for little ones!
- Soft sole
- Flexible sole
- Adjustable snap closure
- Hand-stitched and tag-less
- Cushioned, non-slip bottoms
- 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton lining
- Easy on and easy off
- Highest quality soft-soled shoes
- Best for indoors
- Not meant for long-distance walking
If you are just looking for daycare shoes, these moccasins are a good and very budget friendly choice that I would also strongly consider.
Sizes: 0-24 months
Colors: 31 total styles in the First Kicks line
Shipping: Free over $55
The First Kicks line by Robeez was designed for babies learning how to walk. And good news, all of Robeez’s shoes have the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance for promoting normal foot function!
Their shoes are wide and flexible making them a good choice for babies with a wider foot. Additionally, they have soft soles allowing them to feel the ground through the sole. They look like real shoes on top and come in all different colors and styles.
They do have over 30 styles available in this line. They follow a sole pattern (0-6 months have a soft sole, 6 months plus has a split rubber sole) but all of the closures can vary based on the style of the shoe.
In My Experience: If you have a child with narrow feet, I would suggest the slip on styles. I would skip the boots from Robeez if your baby has extra wide feet. They are harder to get on a child’s feet, in my opinion, and actually are super annoying to deal with.
- APMA approved
- Over 30 color and style options
- Sizes 0-3 & 3-6 months have a soft, suede sole
- Sizes 6 months+ come with a split rubber sole that grips the floor and adds traction
- Reasonably priced
- Comfortable baby shoes
- Slightly confusing sizes and styles
- Not all styles have the same features
Sizes: 6-18 months
Colors: 4 available on Amazon
Shipping: Varies – free Amazon Prime 2-Day shipping
I wanted to make sure there was a sandal option in this guide as well. These shoes are very lightweight and have a flexible sole while still offering support to early walkers with the anti-slip features. They have a rubber outsole that also allows for natural movement and healthy foot development.
These sandals are also more of a budget option as well. They make great, affordable shoes if you don’t need your little one to be in them for long and need a protective shoe for outdoors.
- Protective for slick outdoor environments
- Rubber sole
- Soft and breathable upper material
- 4 colors available
- Thicker sole
What to look for in baby shoes for early walkers:
As a general guideline, there are some important things you’ll want to look for in shoes for early walkers:
A Wide Toe Box:
This is important for proper foot development. We do not want to squish little toes! You do not want the toes to be crowded but rather they should have ample room to spread out as they would if your child was barefoot.
A Flexible Sole:
A sole that is too firm can impede natural muscle development and stability as your child learns to walk. Flexible soles are key in keeping to the natural shape of the foot. The goal is healthy feet and a comfortable fit!
Bonus points if they have a soft sole as well. You should be able to bend the sole in your hands like this:
A Zero Drop Sole:
This is a quality of minimalist and barefoot shoes – the best option for proper foot development!
For early walkers, you’ll want to look for a heel you can squish slightly between your fingers. If there is nothing to squish, it is too soft. If it is hard to push it down, it is too hard.
Your baby or toddler does not need hard-soled shoes, a memory foam footbed, arch support, or extra padding. These only harm your baby’s development. If you are concerned about them hurting themselves, make sure they have a snug fit for their foot size or consider a pair with toe caps for extra security.
If you are putting your baby’s feet in shoes to go outside, you’ll probably want some traction as they learn to walk! A non-slip sole can help prevent them from slipping but you don’t want something with so much of a sole or added traction that they are not able to develop naturally.
As they get older and if you go the minimalist shoe route, you do want the bottom of the shoe to have some traction as they learn to take navigate terrain.
A Velcro Strap:
These are helpful for added stability, though not strictly necessary. Velcro straps or an adjustable hook are nice because you can adjust them to the size of your child’s foot.
Toddlers lose fatty tissue in their feet as their feet grow so this is a nice feature, especially if your toddler has wide feet.
Some first shoes have a loop closure. This is okay but a velcro strap is better (especially closer to the heel) because it allows for more stability.
First Walker Shoes FAQ
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about new walkers and their tiny little shoes!
Is It okay if I put them in different shoes for special occasions?
This is a really common question. The answer is is that yes, it is okay!
If you want to put your baby in specialty shoes for photos or one event, there will not be long term damage from these one-off instances. It’s what they wear most of the time that makes all the different.
How do I know if I’m getting the right size?
Most brands will have sizing guides that matches to their shoe sizing. You should always check for a proper fit. Kids grow fast and baby feet tend to need a new size around every 2 months for a good fit.
Ten Little’s toddler shoe sizes even have a built-in sizer. As you can see here, the dotted line at the top show when they have outgrown their shoes. The imprint of my toddlers toes passes the line, so I knew we needed to size up:
Otherwise, you can go to your local shoe store and have them measure. Even if you don’t purchase shoes there, they can help you get the sizing correct.
A telltale sign that their shoes are the wrong size is if they are tripping and falling down a lot. Yes, toddler feet can be a bit clumsy, but if you notice they are falling down or tripping an exceptional amount, it’s likely they are in the wrong sized shoe.
What do I need to look for in shoes for early walkers?
Really there are a couple of things that can make all the difference in shoes for your baby’s first walking shoes.
Beyond making sure they are the right size, you want to look for a wide toe box. This ensures that your child’s feet can grow properly. You also want a flexible sole – you should be able to bend the shoe in your hand. The perfect shoe checks all of the boxes listed in the graphic above!
What shoes are best for first walkers?
The best shoes for first walkers are the ones the fit the points above! My favorites include Ten Little’s First Walkers, the Stride Rite, Robeez, and See Kai Run.
Should babies wear shoes when they start walking?
According to Pediatric Doctor of Physical Therapy, Kaitlin Rickerd from Milestones and Motherhood, barefoot is best but there are situations in which shoes should be worn like inside a store or public places.
What shoe size is a 1 year old?
Most one year old’s are somewhere between a size 4-5. That said, this can vary widely! Your best bet is to have them sized in store or follow the sizing chart for the brand you choose!
As a mom, I personally love Ten Little’s sizing guide as well as the built-in sizing guide’s in their shoes. This makes it SO easy to know when it is time to size up!!
What size shoe are most babies when they start walking?
Again this can vary but the average size for a baby walking around 12 months is size 4-5. My youngest son was in size 5 when he began walking around 12 months.
How often do babies and toddlers need new shoes?
Babies, toddlers, and new walkers grow half a shoe size approximately every two months! Measure those feet often and regularly to make sure your kiddo is in the right shoe size.
Can kids wear hand-me-down shoes?
According to Dr. Patel, a a board-certified foot surgeon with more than 30 years of experience in the fields of podiatric medicine and podiatric surgery from Patel Podiatry, you should generally skip hand-me-down shoes for your kids.
Shoes fit to the owner’s feet, which can cause an improper fit for a new owner and impeded growth and development.
The midsole, insole, and treads also get worn down which means they are no longer providing the proper support. If the shoe you are looking at is mostly new and not worn down, this is a good sign that you can use them as a hand-me-down!
Additionally, kids feet sweat 2-3x more than adult feet which means their shoes can harbor all kinds of bacteria and fungi. Not worth the risk!
Dr. Patel does suggest that if shoes for new walkers are mostly unworn, they could be used again if the shoe is in like-new condition.
My Final Thoughts on the Best Baby Shoes For Early Walkers
I hope this list of the best baby shoes helped you pick out the right pair suited for your new walker! Congratulations on this fun and exciting milestone in your baby’s life.
After going through many, many pairs of shoes, Ten Little is my top personal choice. They have the best longevity of all of the brands we have tried and to me, they are the perfect choice.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!
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