The 10 Best Shoes For Babies Learning To Walk
A baby taking their first steps is one of the most exciting milestones, but it means you might find yourself suddenly needing footwear for your little mover. The best shoes for babies learning to walk are comfortable and follow the barefoot model preferred by pediatricians. Here are a few things to consider when shopping.
Baby's Foot Development
Professionals recommend babies should take their first steps barefoot for healthy foot development, and shoes aren't needed until they actually start walking. Even then, it's best to only wear shoes to protect a baby's feet as they explore outside and shoes should never be stiff or compressive. A couple of my shoe picks have a seal from the American Podiatric Medical Association, which means they encourage good foot health. I've included some non-slip socks to keep your baby's feet warm while walking at home.
Soft Uppers And Convenient Details
If your young walker will be venturing outdoors, here are some things to look for in a good pair of shoes.
- Uppers: A lightweight and flexible shoe that moves with your baby is important for supporting their toddling. Choose a soft upper, like mesh, cloth, or leather. The goal is to offer a shoe that aligns with the barefoot model and mimics the feeling of bare feet.
- Cut: An ankle-cut or high-top shoe provides a snug fit that you can easily get on, but that your curious baby won’t just as easily remove.
- Easy On/Off: A tab at the heel help you slip your baby’s heel firmly into the shoe. Velcro hook-and-loop closures make getting shoes on and off a quick task, but you may prefer laces if your older baby figures out how to pull open a velcro strap. Adjustable straps or laces help ensure a secure fit.
- Width considerations: Babies have adorably wide feet, and young walkers need shoes with wide, rounded toe boxes for a comfortable fit. Look for shoes with extra-wide sizes if your baby has wider-than-average feet.
Baby’s first real shoes for walking should have soles that are flexible and non-slip with grip or have skid resistance to help keep babies upright. Grooves in the sole provide extra traction, and a cushioned footbed adds more support. When babies get more confident walking barefoot, experts say you can switch to harder-soled shoes — for most babies, this might be around 15 months. That's why, in addition to beginner shoes, I have included options with sturdier soles. With all this in mind, below are the best shoes for your little one learning to take his or her first steps.
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For Babies Just Starting To Take Their First Steps
- The Best Soft Sneakers
These soft baby sneakers offer the feel of moccasins and the look of sneakers, but in place of a traditional harder rubber sole they feature a flexible suede sole that provides traction without constricting your baby's feet. The suede inner offers comfort and the exterior is designed from durable cowhide leather that provides protection. The slip-on sneakers have elastic ankles that make them easy for you to get on your baby, but not so easy or them to remove. They come in all infant and toddler sizes and 10 shades like brown, blue, dark green, and red.
A helpful review: "I wanted soft soles, easy to get on, but something he couldn't pull off, something that looked nice and provide some protection while his feet developed. I ordered these shoes and a plain brown hair to cover all my based and couldn't be happier with them. He has worn one or the other pair for almost 6 months now. They have held up great even being worn outside and having gotten wet more times than I can count ... I would absolutely recommend them to anyone looking for a soft sole shoe option for a baby or toddler."
- An Adorable Pair Of Indoor Shoes In A Ton Of Fun Animal Options
A pair of soft baby moccasins can help protect your baby's toes. The soles of these comfy leather shoes are made of flexible suede that is thin for a barefoot-like feel, but also non-slip so they're safe for little ones learning how to walk.
The shoes have a rounded toe box, and while there's no adjustable strap, there's an elasticized ankle opening that provides a secure fit. These shoes come in infant to toddler sizes with lots of cute colorful patterns and character details like lions, unicorns, flowers, trains, and rocketships.
A helpful review: "LOVE these. [..] Great for indoor shoes at places you need to remove outdoor shoes and don’t want to be in socks."
- Some Sandals With A Protected Toe
Another option for warmer temperatures is pediped's sandals for infants. This lightweight shoe is made of a soft 100% leather upper with a velcro strap closure for the most custom fit. The rounded-toe sandal provides breathable comfort during summers while a closed toe protects little toes.
The leather sole has slip-resistant treading to support young walkers, and this pick has a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. For wider feet, this ankle-cut navy sandal comes in both wide and extra-wide infant to toddler sizes. The only downside: They're only available in one color.
A helpful review: “[pedipeds] are the best for babies just learning to walk. They are developmentally appropriate and soft for their little feet when it's not practical for them to go barefoot ... The 12-18 month size fit my 13-month-old as expected, with just a bit of room for growing. Overall, this style is adorable, and looks good with or without socks. [...]”
- These Zip-On Shoes With The Softest Lining
This is one of the priciest shoe options on this list, but if you dread the struggle of putting on baby shoes and are searching for a high-quality leather shoe with a few bells and whistles, these zip-on baby shoes are an ideal choice. This moccasin-style shoe has a zipper along the side that makes quick changes a breeze, with a soft leather sole for infants just learning to walk. Toddler sizes are also available and feature rubber soles for better traction. You can choose between two comfortable linings: moisture-wicking microfiber or faux fur. Color options consist mainly of soft neutrals like brown, black, sand, and cotton candy pink.
A helpful review: "I love these new shoes. The first thing I noticed was they looked really nice and high quality. Then I felt the leather and it's wonderful. Very high quality and soft and sturdy. But the best part was how easy they are to get on and off our daughter. The zipper makes it easy ... [They] are far superior too many of the other baby shoes out there."
For More Experienced Walkers
- The Best Sneakers
See Kai Run was started by a mom seeking healthy yet cute shoes for her son, and this pair of sneakers for babies fits the bill with the benefit of having a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association.
The shoe's ankle-cut upper is soft, flexible, and breathable with an adjustable hook-and-loop velcro strap and a heel tab. The flexible rubber sole has enough traction to support quick steps, and it is lined with canvas and a removable leather-lined footbed to keep the shoe fresh. A padded collar adds extra cushion and comfort.
These shoes come in infant and toddler sizes and in several colors and prints, including navy, green, and a floral pattern.
A helpful review: “They have a wide toe box, good grip on the soles, and [are] easy to put on and take off. I bought these in three sizes so that my boy will always have a pair. He loves them and they seem comfy!”
- A Sweet Pair Of Soft Oxfords
These leather baby shoes come in a soft Oxford style with a supportive sole for walkers. The soft and flexible upper ties with organic cotton laces, and overall the shoe is lightweight. Unlike most baby moccasin styles available, these shoes have non-slip rubber soles with grooves, plus padded insoles for extra support.
The rounded wide front allows a healthy amount of room for toes with an adjustable width thanks to its laces. A tab at the heel of the shoe makes it easier to get these ankle-cut shoes on and off. They come in a range of infant sizes. Choose from several colors, including beige, khaki, and blue.
A helpful review: “These are even more beautiful in person. The flexible rubber soles are perfect for a toddler. We have had a lot of moccasins all different prices and the quality of these is great for the price. [...] The packaging is also beautiful and would make a nice gift.”
- This Classic Pair Of Mary Janes
This sweet pair of Mary Jane shoes for babies features a leather upper with heart-shaped cutouts for style and breathability. The classic rounded toe creates a roomy toe box, and an adjustable velcro strap is suitable for wide feet.
The ankle-cut shoe's synthetic soles are flexible with grooves for traction. This pick is highly rated with more than 700 reviews, and they come in several colors and a wide range of sizes from toddler to preschooler.
A helpful review: “First pair of shoes my one-year-old had, and I just bought two more because she grew. They are comfortable, pretty, affordable, light so she could walk without tripping, and easy to put on and take off. You can dress them up and dress them down!”
- This Shoe That Comes In Sizes That Grow With Your Child
My toddler didn't walk until he was 15 months old, and these lightweight baby sneakers were the first pair he'd keep on his (now narrower and less cherubic) feet. They have an impressive 4.5-star rating with more than 1,500 reviews, and they're available in a wide range of sizes so I can just keep buying the same shoe from the toddler through preschool years.
The ankle-cut shoe has a breathable synthetic mesh upper and a hook-and-loop velcro closure for adjustable width. Its rounded toe box is narrower than some others on this list, but these are a great affordable option — especially for babies who start to walk after 12 months and likely have less padding on their feet.
A tab at the heel makes slipping these shoes on and off simpler, and the shoe's rubber, non-slip sole is flexible and grooved for secure walking. These shoes are available in 10 colors, including grey, navy, and pink.
A helpful review: "These are great shoes! They can play at the park and climb etc in them. They are easy on and easy off with the Velcro as well. The price is nice because toddlers feet grow and change so often all year so if you need to replace them it’s not so hard on the wallet."
- The Best Shoes For Wide Feet
This cult favorite has nearly 4,000 reviews, including from several parents who commented that these are the shoe for babies with wide feet. They have a rounded toe box with double-wide hook-and-loop velcro closure for adjustable width. And they come in a wide range of sizes, including wide sizing, for toddlers and preschoolers.
The soft suede and mesh upper of this ankle-cut shoe is supported by a cushioned midsole and rubber outsole with grooves. Choose from 20 color options for this lightweight shoe, like gray, blue, and pink.
A helpful review: “I highly recommend this shoe if your toddler has a super wide foot and you have tried all the others. This one will fit. The opening allows for a wide foot to go in easily. Durable and easy to get on.”
- These Cute & Motivating Squeaky Shoes
Could your little one use some motivation to walk? Try a pair of squeaky shoes for toddlers. Don't worry — these have a feature as important as the squeaking: an off switch.
The lightweight shoe is made of a synthetic and breathable high-top upper with a velcro strap closure and a heel tab. They also have a rubber sole with traction and a rounded toe box. It comes in a number of toddler and children's sizes.
With more than 2,000 reviews, parents commented they love the variety of cute patterns and colors for this highly rated shoe. The 17 versions feature animals, including dogs, pandas, and owls.
A helpful review: “I loved them the moment I put them on his feet. He needed that extra motivation to walk independently. He loves the squeak so much!! They seem to be super comfortable and he hasn’t tried to take them off. I recommend them to any parent with a little one that needs shoes that fit and are comfortable. Not to mention fun.”
Nice To Have: A Measuring Tool For Ordering The Right Shoe Size Online
There's an easy way to take the guesswork out of buying baby shoes online. Use this foot measuring device to know exactly when your baby or toddler’s foot has grown and they’re ready for a new pair. It'll help you order the right size the first time.
With hundreds of reviews, reviewers report their toddlers even love playing with this device, making it easy to measure those feet.
A helpful review: “Perfect for knowing what size my kids feet are. It's such a pain to take three toddlers to the store to have them sized, now I can buy online and save myself time.”
Also Great: Non-Slip Socks
Worn with or without shoes, you'll want some non-slip ankle socks for baby. These have grip from the heel to toe of each sock to help keep young walkers from slipping. A high tab at the back makes it easy to get these on and they won't fall down when worn with shoes.
They have an impressive 4.8-star rating with more than 1,500 reviews, and you can choose from multi-packs in basic or assorted colors. Pro tip: choosing one color makes sorting tiny laundry pieces go much faster.
A helpful review: “I love these socks for my toddler (14 month old). They fit well (with room to grow), don't fall off, and are not too tight around his ankles. My favorite part are the grips on the bottom, which are essential as he is just learning to walk. I have washed/dried them, and they do not shrink and the colors do not run. They are great quality socks for a really great price.”