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How to choose baby’s first shoes

If you have little ones at home, whether they’re just starting to walk or are already in preschool, selecting the right shoes is critical. The bones in their feet are still forming, so a poorly fitted shoe can cause abnormal and repetitive pressures that could actually deform their feet. Here are tips for choosing shoes for your young child:

1. Baby Shoes

It might be tempting to put those cute little shoes on that Aunt June gave you at the baby shower, but babies don’t need shoes. They’re not walking anywhere, and restricting their little feet with shoes can actually harm them. Until they turn one, just stick with socks.

2. Go Barefoot

While those little Mary Janes might be too cute to resist, your little princess will do best if she’s left barefoot if conditions allow, even after she starts walking. This promotes muscle growth, lets little toes grasp and helps their feet develop strength and coordination. Of course, that’s not always practical, like when you’re walking down a gravel driveway or it’s 15 degrees and snowing. But if their feet aren’t in danger of getting hurt, just leave the shoes off.

3. Be Flexible

Shoes for babies that are just learning to walk and exploring toddlers need to be flexible, lightweight and soft. Avoid any kind of shoe that is too hard and won’t move with their feet. The little hiking boots might be adorable, but they’re not going to let your child’s feet to grow properly. They shouldn’t restrict toe and foot mobility or bind feet in any way. When it comes to shoes for the little ones, less is definitely more.

4. Just Breathe

Little ones can have sweaty feet just like grown-ups, and sweaty feet can lead to friction that causes painful blisters. To avoid this problem, I recommend choosing shoes made of natural fibers such as leather or cotton. Avoid synthetic shoes such as those made to mimic the look of leather, which can trap heat and make little feet uncomfortable.

5. It’s All About Sole

New walkers all the way up to preschoolers will be able to explore better if they have shoes with a flat surface, because unlike adults, young children need shoes that mimic going barefoot. So look for shoes with a smooth, flat sole and avoid rubber soles, which are unfortunately very common in kid shoes today.

6. Avoid Heels

Kids should never wear shoes with heels. It throws their balance off, will make them trip, slip and fall, and can injure their little feet and ankles. They’ll grow up fast enough, so don’t rush it.

Your best option when choosing shoes for toddlers and preschoolers is to shop at a specialty kids shoe store where the staff is trained on how to fit shoes for kids. The selections will also be more appropriate for your little one’s feet.