There is something incredibly cute about baby shoes. From tiny trainers to incredibly small sandals and miniature Mary Janes, baby shoes are a fun way to finish off an adorable outfit for your baby. While fashionable, however, are baby shoes absolutely necessary?
We’ve all seen the wide variety of baby shoes on the market. Even in those newborn baby days, you can expect to find aisle after aisle of booties and pram shoes on the shelves to pop onto your baby’s tiny feet. But are there any risks associated with using baby shoes too soon? At what age does your baby actually need shoes and which shoes should you buy?
Here’s the lowdown on baby shoes and when to introduce them.
Do babies actually need to wear shoes?
It’s fair to say that whilst they can look adorable, babies do not officially need shoes until they start walking outside. In the meantime, socks, tights or baby suits with integrated feet will be perfectly adequate, offering complete comfort for your baby whilst preventing their toes from getting cold.
It’s important to remember what shoes are actually for – essentially to protect the feet when walking outside. If your baby spends most of their time on your lap or sitting in a pram or pushchair – shoes will be almost entirely aesthetic.
Why barefoot is best
When your baby is learning to walk, cruising around the couch or lifting themselves up against furniture, barefoot is most definitely best. Not only does going barefoot allow them to confidently feel the ground beneath their feet, but also helps them learn about balance and coordination too.
Putting their feet flat on the ground and load-bearing can be a new sensation for your baby, so allowing them to get used to the pressure and feel the force against the soles of their feet can help increase their confidence and further encourage their movement.
What are the risks of wearing shoes too soon?
When you do introduce shoes, they must be measured correctly. Wearing the wrong-sized shoes, especially if they are too small or too tight, can cause your baby’s toes to cramp up and become restricted. This can not only prevent confident walking but potentially hinder their foot growth too.
The same thing can be said for socks and tights – babies grow incredibly quickly, so before you pop back on that trusty stretchy pair of 3-6 months, make sure there’s still plenty of space for those toes to wiggle around inside.
What are the best shoes for babies to wear?
If you’re going to a special event or you really want to add shoes to your baby’s wardrobe, soft stretchy booties are the best option before your baby can walk, offering a comfortable fabric that still provides plenty of space for their feet.
When your child is starting to take those tentative first steps, you may want to introduce a pair of outdoor shoes. As mentioned above, it’s recommended to get these measured professionally, ensuring that they are the right size (and width) for your child.
Most pre-walker and new walker shoes also include:
- Lightweight soles – that will not feel too weighty or alien to your baby as they try to lift their feet. They are generally soft to the touch.
- Flexible soles – Flexible soles allow natural foot movement for your baby. Soles that are too rigid or fixed will present the natural foot movement as your baby curls and moves with each step.
- Good grip – First steps can be unpredictable, but a good grip can prevent slipping on unfamiliar surfaces
- Adjustable fastenings – Shoe sizing isn’t an exact science, but adjustable fastenings such as Velcro allow you to ensure a comfortable fit for your baby and easily adjust based on the thickness of their tights or socks.
It’s worth remembering that as cute as they are, shoes won’t make your baby walk any faster or any sooner and each baby develops at their own pace. If your baby isn’t there yet, don’t rush it. Save the expense and stick with well-fitting socks or booties instead.