21 Baby Walking Shoes to Support Your Child’s First Steps
July 21, 2021
Almost every parent will tell you their world is flipped upside down once their baby starts walking. After all, it’s one of the most monumental milestones in your child’s life—and once they start toddling around, they can be hard to keep up with. Although it’s fashionable and fun to dress baby in matching outfits and shoes right from the get-go, finding the best walking shoes for your little one isn’t necessary until they actually start walking. Many professionals (including those associated with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you allow your child to practice walking barefoot first. Their tiny feet aren’t fully developed yet, and learning how to grip the floors and coordinate their steps with little or no support will help with balance and coordination.
Once your child has mastered the art of balancing, and you feel comfortable enough to go outside for a walk, shopping for baby’s first walking shoes is your next step. Making the walking experience safe but exciting should be every parent’s top priority. The best baby walking shoes should protect your kiddo’s feet from any hard or unsafe terrain outside—this is the only time baby walking shoes should be worn as they’re first learning.
With so many choices on the market, it can be daunting to find the best baby walking shoes. That’s why we’ve put together a shoppable guide and some great tips to get started before your precious little one takes their first steps.
In this article:
How to fit baby walking shoes
What to look for in baby walking shoes
Buster brown baby walking shoes
Hard bottom baby walking shoes
White baby walking shoes
Leather baby walking shoes
The first baby walking shoes you buy should protect your little one’s developing toes with comfort and flexibility. Babies have lots of fatty padding on the bottom of their feet that makes them relatively flat-footed; so unlike slip-on baby shoes, walking shoes should be tested for fit before purchase. We recommend spending some time shopping at an actual shoe store to get assistance from trained staff who will take measurements for the right fit. However, here are two tests you can try yourself:
Once you get the shoe on your little one’s foot, press your thumb sideways at the very tip of the shoe. There should be roughly half an inch—or a thumb’s width—of space between the tip of the shoe and your child’s longest toe.
A comfortable but snug fit is what you should be looking for. The heel should fit perfectly against the back of the shoe. If the heel pinches, it means the shoe is too small, while a heel that easily slides out means the shoe may be a size too big. You can confirm the right fit for the best baby walking shoes by inserting your pinkie into the heel; it should just squeeze in when baby’s toes are pushed to the front of the shoe.
The best walking shoes for babies should be snug, meaning they won’t slip around too much, even if your baby is in the beginning stages of perfecting their stride. Once you take the shoe off, keep an eye out for any red marks—if you see any, it means the shoe is too tight. Below are some more dos and don’ts—as well as some pointers from the American Academy of Pediatrics on what to look for in the best baby walking shoes.
Dos and don’ts of baby walking shoes
• Do pick something comfortable, as this is the most important aspect of finding baby’s first walking shoes. If your child is either limping or tipping, that may mean the shoe is uncomfortable. After all, a young baby can’t tell you whether their shoes are fitting correctly, so observation is your only option.
• Don’t buy used walking shoes for babies because they’ve likely molded to the feet of their original owner. It can be harmful to the development of baby’s feet to wear hand-me-down shoes. Form and fit are critical when it comes to baby’s first walking shoes, and footwear fits every child differently.
• Do pick an ankle-cut or high-top first baby walking shoe secured with laces, snaps or Velcro. Low-cut or slip-on shoes make it easier for your rambunctious tot to kick off or remove the shoes. You want to look for good baby walking shoes that are easy to put on but hard to slip off—not only for your sanity’s sake, but for the safety of your child, who may trip over loose shoes.
• Don’t shop early in the morning. Try to shop later in the day when baby’s feet swell and are at their biggest. Parents have found that baby walking shoes purchased in the morning have a tighter fit later in the evening.
What should you look for in baby walking shoes?
• Mesh or leather material for breathability. Find a good quality, soft leather or cloth-topped first walking shoe for baby that allows airflow for your child’s sweaty little toes. Stiff materials hinder the growth and development of baby’s feet.
• Lightweight, flexible design to allow natural movement. Pinch the top of baby’s walking shoes while the shoe is on; if you can’t grab any material it may be too tight. Flexible materials mimic baby’s bare feet to allow natural movements during their walk.
• Traction to prevent sliding or slipping. Baby’s first shoes should have grooves on the bottom to help your little one learn to walk more proficiently. Many hard-bottom baby walking shoes have rubber non-skid soles with ridges that give great traction to your wobbly walker.
Traditional Buster Brown baby walking shoes are designed to be tough enough to last any energetic kiddo for an entire year. Durability was at the heart of the brand’s original baby boy walking shoes; soon after, they introduced the iconic Mary Jane baby girl walking shoes. Although the Brown Shoe Company no longer offers the classic Buster Brown baby walking shoe, there are plenty of similar rough-and-tough (but comfy!) walking shoes for babies that can withstand the wear and tear of constant activity.
Josmo Kids essential walker
Your little one will easily learn to balance when they step out in these high-top baby walking shoes with lace closure and all-around leather material. Padded lightly in the sole, these comfortable yet dressy Josmo boots can be worn casually or dressed up for a special occasion—like baby’s first birthday.
Buy it: $45, Zappos.com
Baby Deer stitchout Mary Jane
Mary Jane shoes were the heartbeat of the Buster Brown baby walking shoe collection. Although the name was never officially trademarked, the Mary Janes were the official durable baby girl walking shoes. These beauties from Baby Deer resemble the classic style, thanks to the leather upper and tractioned rubber outsoles.
Buy it: Starting from $18, Amazon.com
FootMates Todd 3
These leather FootMates booties aren’t just sturdy—they’re also customizable. The dapper baby walking shoes come with two different insoles so you can choose the best fit for your child’s foot.
Buy it: $57, Zappos.com
L’Amour Shoes joy classic leather stitch down T-strap Mary Janes in red
Baby walking shoes don’t have to be boring. These bright red Mary Janes add a pop of color to any outfit, while also supporting your child with classic T-straps and grooved rubber soles.
Buy it: $55, Maisonette.com
Angel Shoes baby James nubuck leather lace up shoe
Searching for some quality baby walking shoes? These round-toe leather brogues from Angel Shoes are a great choice. The lace-up design, complete with classic perforated leather detailing, are made with comfort and longevity in mind.
Buy it: $38, Maisonette.com
Today’s baby hard bottom walking shoes are different from those of the past. Forget the inflexible hard soles that created difficulties for little ones learning to walk. Harder rubber soles on modern baby walking shoes create traction for your little walker, which helps with their balance and assists them in taking confident, supported steps.
Nike flex advance flyease sneaker
Is your kiddo really on the go? These Nike baby walking shoes (or should we say running shoes?)—are ultra-flexible with a stretchy upper sole and a padded heel to promote natural movement in a comfy way. Better yet, this design has an extra-wide opening for little feet to slip into and adjustable criss-cross straps to keep them securely in place.
Buy it: Starting from $58, Nordstrom.com
Carter’s every step boots
Carter’s Every Step boots are superb (not to mention affordable!) first walking shoes for any child starting to take those all-important steps. A hook-and-loop strap snugly secures little feet, and a comfortable fit gives lots of room for your child to grow into. Bonus features include sensory insoles and soft, flexible outsoles.
Buy it: $36, Carters.com
See Kai Run kids Stevie II
The Stevie II sneakers by See Kai Run offer flexible rubber soles for extra stability. They’re designed with stretchy laces and looped straps for even more security. While the breathable inner-lining and cushioned insole keep things comfortable for your kiddo. Available in six snazzy color options.
Buy it: $45, Zappos.com
Stride Rite soft motion jazzy sneaker
Awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of acceptance, these baby girl walking shoes are proven to promote foot health in little kids. The rounded, flexible soles improve balance and encourage natural movement while the plush, memory foam footbeds provide supreme comfort. The best part? These shoes are easy to slip on and secure thanks to the extra-wide openings and velcro fastenings.
Buy it: $48, StrideRite.com
New Balance kids 515 classic
New Balance is a sneaker brand loved by people of all ages—and with good reason. These baby walking shoes are equal parts comfortable and stylish. Standout features include a sturdy grip outsole for added traction on slippery surfaces, padded insoles lined with a breathable material and a reinforced bumper to prevent stubbed toes. Bonus: This style comes in six bright shades that are perfect for girls and boys.
Buy it: $40, Zappos.com
Believe it or not, white baby walking shoes are very popular. In fact, there probably isn’t a better time for your child to wear white shoes than when they’re in the beginning stages of walking, because they’re much less likely to jump into mud puddles just for fun. Whatever the occasion, white baby walking shoes look great with any outfit and can add a touch of formality when fitting.
Nike air force 1 sneakers
These Nike Air Force 1 sneakers are the ultimate baby’s first walking shoes for any parents eager to relive their high-school basketball days. Not only is this style ultra-cool, but they also have outstanding durability for wear, a wide base that’ll promote balance, lightweight cushioning and high-top leather design for comfort and support. If you’re a huge fan of the classic Nike brand, you’ll be more than satisfied with how these shoes for babies live up to the name.
Buy it: $38, Nordstrom.com
Keds little kid’s champion toe cap sneaker
Another ode to the classics, these Keds baby walking shoes duplicate the look of the original sneaker. A memory foam sole makes them comfortable enough for all-day wear, while the lace-up closure ensures a snug fit. Plus, the premium leather upper and rubber sole allow for natural movements as your munchkin explores their world.
Buy it: $35, Keds.com
Salt Water sandal by Hoy Shoes sun-san in sea wees
Once your kid has found their balance and gotten the hang of walking you may want to invest in some summer-ready baby walking shoes. We adore these sweet sandals by Hoy Shoes. Made from water-friendly leather with rust-resistant hardware, this pair is perfect for strolling along the beach or chilling poolside with your little girl.
Buy it: $37, Zappos.com
Converse kids Chuck Taylor all star core ox in optical white
Share a love of Chuck Taylors with your little one. These white baby walking shoes are a great choice for your baby boy or girl, courtesy of their high-top design, secured by laces and reinforced toes.
Buy it: $30, Zappos.com
Stride Rite soft motion amalie Mary Jane
These pretty baby girl walking shoes will step up your child’s style game (check out that super-sweet cutout pattern). And, like most of the best first walking shoes, they boast flexible, rounded soles and adjustable—but not easily undoable—straps. Bonus: This pair is lined with an antimicrobial material to keep smelly feet and sweaty toes at bay.
Buy it: $48, StrideRite.com
Vans old skool v glitter sneaker
Go beyond basic sneakers with this glamorous, glittery pair. Vans have a wide, flat base to promote balance and a cozy terry lining for added comfort. Better yet, this style is easy to take on and off thanks to double hook-and-loop straps.
Buy it: $40, Nordstrom.com
Your best bet to avoid sweaty, stinky baby feet is to go for a pair of leather baby walking shoes. The material promotes more air circulation than synthetic or plastic options. Look for a combination of soft leather upper and rubber soles to give your little walker the most support and flexibility.
Pediped Isabella original
Pediped is a brand known for its genuine leather material and stamp of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association. The Original Isabella style has a cushioned insole combined with a supple leather outsole, making this pair a great option for babies taking their first steps.
Buy it: $40, Zappos.com
Zutano light gold leather fringe moccasins
Is there anything cuter than a pair of mini moccasins? We don’t think so! Check out these fringed leather baby walking shoes from Zutano. Made from 100 percent leather, this style has sturdy, non-slip rubber soles and elasticated cuffs to prevent baby from yanking them off. Available in tan, white and black.
Buy it: $40, Zutano.com
Angel Shoes baby Austin leather saddle oxford shoe
These baby walking shoes are just plain adorable. The preppy sneakers feature a white leather exterior and a contrasting red leather saddle that reminds us of mini bowling shoes—how cute! Tie laces offer added security and a snug fit for your baby girl or boy.
Buy it: $38, Maisonette.com
Sperry kids a/o crib
Your tot will love cruising around in these miniature boat shoes. The classic hand-sewn style has genuine rawhide laces and a sturdy, suede upper sole. Plus, the non-marking rubber bottoms provide plenty of traction on slippery surfaces.
Buy it: $61, Zappos.com
Boden baby leather baby shoes in tan
Last up on our list of the best baby walking shoes is this classic design by Boden. The tan brogues are made from a super-soft leather with a padded sole to cushion little feet and adjustable fasteners.
Buy it: $47, Boden.com
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