Hold on to your hat! Baby has made the transition from all fours and is upwardly mobile. As a new parent, you should know that first comes walking, then running, jumping, skipping, and hopping. If you weren’t too concerned about shoes before the big day, you are not alone. Most parents do not attempt to buy shoes for baby until he or she begins comfortably walking. When beginning the search for baby’s first pair of walking shoes, there are certain characteristics that are crucial to proper foot development and ease of physical activity.
The following guidelines will help you in your search for the most appropriate footwear for your mobile munchkin:
Soft cloth or leather are the best options for the upper part of the shoe. You want the material to be soft around the baby’s foot, with no rubbing. Stiff shoes will hinder foot development and synthetic materials will not allow proper breathing. The foot could become hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable. Your toddler needs to be comfortable, so that the shoes will stay on the feet.
Flexible, Bendable Soles
When narrowing down the shoe choice, make sure that you can bend the sole of the shoe. Literally pick the shoe up and bend it. Without sole flexibility, your toddler will have difficulty adjusting the foot for proper grip and movement. A shoe with a stiff, smooth sole, not only hinders movement, but will not help with traction. The sole of the shoe should be non-skid with possible ridges for a better grip.
Wiggle Room (but not too much)
Check the fit of the shoe on your kiddo. Put the shoes on his/her feet and then ask him or her to stand. There should be just enough room for you to squeeze your pinky finger between the back of the shoe and your child’s heel. There should also be an almost full width of thumb length between your child’s longest toe and the front end of the shoe. Try also squeezing the shoes from the sides with one hand. You should be able to grab a small portion of the shoe that goes over the top of the foot.
Just enough wiggle room is perfect. Too much room will lead to tripping or slipping, too little room will lead to rubbing, blistering, and improper foot growth. Because a toddler can grow very quickly, be sure to check the fit of the shoe at least once a month. Replace the shoes as soon as these fitting rules no longer apply.
Fasteners – velcro vs. laces vs. buckles
Choose the fastener that works best for you as a parent and with your child. Some toddlers who do not prefer wearing shoes, figure out very quickly how to unfasten and remove shoes, therefore velcro may not be the best option. If you have more than one child, or find yourself in a frenzy when getting your child dressed, the less shoe stress the better, so, choose an option that will make it easier on both of you. The majority of toddler shoes do not come with laces, however, the ones that do may require a double knot, to keep the kiddo from constant untying or tripping on the laces.
Checking the Fit After a Stroll
A baby shoe does not require a period of “breaking in.” When trying on the shoes, have your toddler walk around for a bit. After a few minutes remove the shoes and look for any red spots or major indentions. These could be trouble areas that could later cause discomfort.
Baby’s first pair of walking shoes are an important first step in physical development of the feet. Without a proper pair, he or she may have trouble with balance and movement, or worse, proper foot development. Following these tips will help with making an informed footwear decision. Toddler shoes typically cost an average of $15 to $30. Remember that these shoes will be replaced frequently, so it is not necessary to buy the most expensive brand, however, buying cheap shoes that do not follow the guidelines above could be detrimental. Most importantly, don’t forget to try the shoes on baby before the purchase, or if purchased online, make sure there is a return policy. The only way to know if they truly fit is to let your kiddo prance and frolic in the new fashion footwear.