When Should Babies Start Wearing Shoes And Tips To Try

You may buy a pair of shoes for your baby anytime, but they will be useful when the baby begins to walk.

Written by Rohit Garoo Experience: 9 years

When their little one begins to stand on their feet and take a few steps, many parents begin to wonder this question – “when should babies start wearing shoes?”

While figuring out the right age to introduce your baby to their first shoes is important, it is also important to choose the right shoes. This can be confusing while sifting through the numerous baby shoes available online or in stores. Further, you may also need to switch from pre-walking shoes to walking shoes when your baby begins to walk without support.

Read on to know more about when babies should start wearing shoes and how to choose the best baby shoes for your little one.

When Can A Baby Start Wearing Shoes?

Your growing baby’s feet are still in the developing stage when they first start to stand. When your toddler is learning to balance and walk independently, allow them to go bare feet. If the floor is cold, opt for socks or non-skid soles. But do not make them wear footwear yet. Give them some more time to develop their balance and coordination. Walking barefoot allows them to feel the ground, builds muscle strength, and develops a natural heel-to-toe movement (1).

Once you feel your baby is ready to walk outdoors, it is time you start shoe hunting for your little one. Ensure you find a pair of baby shoes that fits at the heels while leaving decent space at their toes and offering some grip for a stable walk.

Features To Look For When Buying A Baby’s First Shoes

Here are a few pointers you may consider when looking for a good pair of shoes for your baby.

  1. Flexibility: The pair of shoes should be soft and flexible so that it is easy for them to walk in it. Hard shoes lacking flexibility can cause babies to stumble and fall.
  1. Non-skid sole: The sole of the shoes should preferably be made of non-skid leather or rubber to give a firm grip while walking.
  1. Padded heels: The heel and ankle areas should have padding to offer good support and comfort.
  1. Closures: If the shoes do not have a secure closure, such as a hook-and-loop strap or laces, your baby will likely take them off in no time. A closure ensures that the shoes remain on your child’s feet for a while.
  1. No open-toe footwear: Avoid sneakers, flip-flops, or even Crocs that are easy to take off because you will have a tough time keeping them on your child’s feet. Also, shoes offer better protection to the toes and heels.
  1. Toe space: You should be able to feel your child’s toes when you press at the top of the shoes. The shoes should not be too big for your child.
  1. No additional accessories: Avoid using additional accessories, such as arch support and shoe inserts. Use them only if recommended by a qualified doctor.

Baby Shoe Size Chart By Age

Here is a shoe size chart for babies based on their age.

0 to 3 months13.5in
3 to 6 months23.75in
6 to 9 months2.5 or 34 to 4.20in
9 to 12 months3.5 or 44.20 to 4.50in
12 to 18 months4.5 or 54.50 to 4.75in
18 to 24 months5.5 or 64.75 to 5.25in

Note that this is a generic shoe size chart and may not apply to all babies as each child is unique and grows at their own pace.

Shoe Styles Available For Babies

You may be excited to buy some stylish shoes for your baby. Here are some styles preferred by most parents.

Shoe style options for baby girls

  • Boots
  • Mary Janes
  • Moccasins
  • Slip-ons meant for pre-walkers
  • Sandals with hook-and-loop straps or snaps
  • Walking sneakers with straps or laces

Shoe style options for baby boys

  • Boots
  • Moccasins
  • Slip-ons or sneakers
  • Walking sneakers with laces or hook-and-loop straps

Signs That The Shoes Do Not Fit Your Baby

Considering how delicate your child’s feet are, if you do not take precautions, the shoes might hurt your baby’s tender feet. Here are some signs that the pair of shoes your child is wearing is not suitable for them.

  • If your baby’s toenails start looking deformed or discolored, it is likely that the shoes are too tight for your baby.
  • If your baby’s toes show deformity or seem to be growing abnormally, it could be an indicator that the shoes are too tight for them.
  • Any soreness or redness over the heels or ankles may indicate that the shoes are not of the right size.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do babies’ shoes require ankle support?

A baby’s ankles are strong enough to support them, and they do not need any extra ankle support. Besides, their leg muscles are at a developing stage and need to grow unrestricted. Extra inserts or arches too are not required unless expressly advised by a doctor. It is best your baby’s feet grow and develop naturally without any intervention.

2. Is it better for babies to learn to walk with or without shoes?

Learning to walk barefoot helps babies develop feet muscles, joints, and ligaments. It ensures that the baby’s feet grow without any interference. It also helps them develop a sense of balance and gives them the confidence to maneuver their body effectively.

Babies usually begin walking around their first birthday. If your little one is walking indoors, you may allow them to do so barefoot. However, babies should start wearing shoes once they begin trotting around outside the house. While hunting for the perfect pair of shoes for your baby, look for factors such as material and flexibility. Pick comfortable shoes that will not hinder the growth of their feet. Also, regularly check whether they have outgrown their existing pair and need new ones.

Key Pointers

  • When you believe your child is capable of walking independently and can go outside, it is appropriate to give them shoes.
  • Flexibility, closures, comfort, and non-skid sole are essential features you need to check for while buying shoes.
  • Boots, moccasins, sneakers, and several other shoe styles as you scroll through.
  • If you notice redness or discoloration of your baby’s toenails after wearing shoes, it is a sign that the shoe size does not fit.


1. Children’s feet and shoes; Better Health Channel – Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia
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