Almost every parent will tell you that their world is flipped upside down once their baby starts walking. It is one of the most monumental milestones in your child’s life because it is the first true achievement they own. Although it is fashionable and fun to dress your baby in matching outfits and shoes, finding the best walking shoes for your baby is not necessary until they start walking. Many professionals (including those associated with the American Association of Pediatrics) recommend that you allow your toddler to learn how to walk barefoot in his or her beginning stages. Learning how to grip the floors and coordinate their steps with little or no support gives babies the best chance to develop their bones and muscles.
Once your child has mastered the art of balancing and you feel comfortable enough to go outside for a walk, finding a great pair of baby’s first walking shoes is your next step. Making the walking experience safe but exciting should be every parent’s top priority. The perfect baby walking shoes should protect your toddler’s feet from any hard or unsafe terrains—this is the only time baby walking shoes should be worn instead of walking barefoot in the beginning. With so many choices on the market, it can be daunting to find the best baby walking shoes. Here at The Bump, we’ve put together a shoppable guide and some great tips to get started before your precious little one takes his or her first steps.
How to fit baby walking shoes
The first baby walking shoes that 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 the right fit before purchase. We recommend that you invest some time to shop at an actual shoe store to get some assistance from trained staff who will take measurements for the right fit. However, here are two tests you can do yourself to ensure the right fit for your child:
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 to your child’s longest toe.
A comfortable but tight fit is what you should be looking for—the heel should sit snuggly against the back of the shoe. Pinching of the heel means that the shoe is too small, while a heel that easily slides out means that 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 feel snug when your baby’s toes are pushed to the front of the shoe.
What to look for in baby walking shoes
The best walking shoes for babies should be snug, meaning they shouldn’t slip around too much, even if your little guy or girl is in the beginning stages of perfecting their walk. Once you take the shoe off, keep an eye out for any red marks—that means the shoe is too tight. Below are some more Dos and Don’ts as well as some pointers from the American Association of Pediatrics on what to look for in the best baby walking shoes.
Do’s and don’ts of baby walking shoes
- Do pick something comfortable, as comfort is the most important aspect in finding the best pair of baby’s first walking shoes. If your toddler is either limping or tipping, that may mean that the shoe is uncomfortable. After all, a young baby cannot tell you whether their shoes are fitting correctly, so observation is your only option.
- Don’t buy used walking shoes for babies because they have likely molded to the feet of the original owner of the shoe. It can be harmful to the development of your baby’s feet to wear hand-me-down shoes. A baby’s first walking shoes are critical in form and fit, 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 toddler 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 your 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 baby’s sweaty little feet. Stiff materials hinder the growth and development of your baby’s feet.
- Lightweight and flexible to easily allow natural movement of the feet. Pinch the top of your baby’s walking shoes while the shoe is on; the shoe may be too tight if you cannot grab any material. Flexible materials mimic your baby’s bare feet to allow natural movements during their walk.
- Traction on the soles to prevent sliding or slipping. Your baby’s first shoes should have grooves on the bottom to help your toddler learn to walk more proficiently. Many hard-bottom baby walking shoes have rubber nonskid soles with ridges that give great traction to your wobbly walker.
Buster Brown Baby Walking Shoes
Traditional Buster Brown baby walking shoes were long-lasting and styled to be tough enough to last any energetic toddler for an entire year. Durability was at the heart of these baby boy walking shoes, and they introduced the iconic Mary Janes as baby girl walking shoes. Although the Brown Shoe Company no longer offers the original Buster Brown baby walking shoe, we did find a few rough and tough walking shoes for babies that can withstand the wear and tear of constant toddler activity.
Jumping Jacks Perfection Kids Perfection (Infant/Toddler), $60, Amazon.com
For some quality baby walking shoes, the round toe leather sneakers from Jumping Jacks Perfection is a great choice from the brand's baby walking shoe collection. Styled athletically with Nubuck leather, these sneakers are made with comfort and lasting wear in mind.
Steve Madden Tpainter Mary Jane Flat $30, Famousfootwear.com
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 Steve Madden authentically represent the classic baby walking shoes with a tough faux leather upper and a grippy, sturdy outsole.
Josmo Infant’s Oxfords $38, Amazon.com
Your toddler will easily learn to balance when he or she walks in these Oxford high-top baby walking shoes with lace closure and all-around leather material. Padded lightly in the sole, these comfortable yet dressy Josmo baby walking shoes can be worn casually or dressed up for your baby’s first birthday.
Josmo Baby Walker Leather Dress $44, Amazon.com
Another great baby walking shoe from Josmo’s classic baby walking shoe collection, the Baby Walker Leather Dress shoe are darling to wear with your toddler’s Sunday best. Nostalgically old-fashioned yet stylish to dress up or dress down with a pair of jeans, these baby boy walking shoes are popular among parents who want to help their toddler solidify their walking skills.
Gucci Moody Mary Jane $295, Nordstrom.com
Every girl, even a toddler, deserves one pair of splurge Mary Janes. These Gucci baby Mary Jane flats are outrageously cute with their round toe, buckle strap, and embroidered bee detail. With soft suede and leather linings, these baby girl walking shoes are luxurious and provide long-lasting wear.
Hard Bottom Baby Walking Shoes
Baby hard bottom walking shoes are different from the styles in the past where the hard soles were not flexible and created difficulties for little ones when they first learned to walk. Harder rubber soles create traction for your walking toddler, which helps with their balance and assists them in taking solid steps with the supportive, heavier hard bottoms.
Carter’s Every Step Alex C. Stage 1 Boot $7, Amazon.com
The Carter’s Every Step Alex C unisex baby walking shoe is a superb cheap baby walking shoe to start any toddler with. An effortless Velcro strap snugly secures little feet in the shoe with ten fun color combinations to choose from. A comfortable fit gives a lot of room for little feet to grow into.
Stride Rite Adora Fashion Boots Infant Girl’s Surprize $27, Target.com
Memory foam lined with a high-top cut and secured by a full-length inseam zipper, the Adora boots from the Stride Rite baby walking shoe collection are a great first choice for your baby girl’s walking shoes. Flexible outsoles encourage your baby’s natural foot movements while grippy traction minimizes the chances she’ll slip on different terrains.
Skechers GoWalk Dotty Dazzle $37, Skechers.com
Skechers GOwalk baby walking shoes are designed to give your little one the best support in their early walking days. Lined with memory foam insoles, the special Memory Form Fit design will give your baby girl the perfect fit. These are among the best baby walking shoes due to their ultra-lightweight feel with a flexible outsole and soft fabric lining. Adjustable straps secure your baby’s little feet with an adorable bow detail. You will love these girly hard-bottom baby walking shoes.
Minnetonka Moccasin Double Fringe Bootie $45, Minnetonkamoccasin.com
A cute pair of moccasins are great for casual occasions and rarely do they come as baby hard- bottom walking shoes like these do. This soft suede fashion bootie with a side-zip closure has a sturdy outsole for comfort and a flexible fit. Reviews praise this baby girl walking shoe as children's favorite to pick out and wear.
Nike KD 9 $60, Footlocker.com
Super light-weight material wraps your toddler’s little feet while special, springy cushioning supports their natural movements with the KD 9s from Nike. These Nike baby walking shoes are designed to give the ultimate breathable comfort for your little walker, who can move around with ease and speed due to the rubber outsoles that give great traction.
White Baby Walking Shoes
Although white is not a color that most parents think of purchasing when it comes to toddlers, white baby walking shoes are very popular. In fact, there probably isn’t a better time for your children to wear white baby walking shoes than when they are in the beginning stages of walking, because they are much less likely to jump into mud puddles just for fun. Whether it’s for their first baptism or first birthday, white baby walking shoes stand out with any outfit, and add a nice touch of formality if needed.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star First Star Crib Shoe $22, Famousfootwear.com
Every adult these days grew up with at least one pair of Chuck Taylors, and these all-white baby walking shoes are a great choice for your baby boy or girl. These high-top baby walking shoes secured by laces and a reinforced toe will give your baby the best chance to practice his or her walking skills. The unisex design allows you to dress these adorable infant walking shoes up or down anytime.
Nike Air Force 1 MID $48, KidsFootLocker.com
The Nike Air Force 1s are the ultimate in baby’s first walking shoes for any parents eager to relive their basketball days in high school. Not only are Nike Air Force 1s cool, but they have outstanding durability for wear, lightweight cushioning, and high-top leather for comfort and support. If you are a huge fan of the classic Nike brand, you will be very satisfied with how these walking shoes for babies truly live up to their name.
Keds Daphne T-Strap Shoes $36, Macys.com
Another ode to the classics, the Keds Daphne baby girl walking shoes duplicate the styling of the original Keds, but with t-strap detailing. Built tough with a padded collar for easy slip-on, the collar also secures the ankle into the baby walking shoes. The leather upper and rubber sole allow for natural movements as your little munchkin explores her world.
Lacoste Carnaby Evo Sneakers $31, Nordstrom.com
If you are looking to make a fashion statement with the best baby walking shoes on the market, consider these Lacoste sneakers that you can order from Nordstroms's. Special OrthoLite insoles and rubber soles will wrap your precious baby’s feet in the luxury brand’s signature design. Velcro adjustable straps provide a secure fit and give your toddler room to grow.
UGG Purl Knit Bootie $50, Macys.com
These darling little UGG booties from Nordstrom are perfect for your little fashionista in training with the soft knit upper and plush wool lining. These baby girl walking shoes feature intricate rubber soles that will give impeccable traction on any terrain. The engineered textile of these baby walking shoes will keep your cutie’s feet nice and warm.
Leather Baby Walking Shoes
Your best bet to avoid sweaty and stinky baby feet is to go for a pair of leather baby walking shoes. The material allows more room to breathe and air to circulate versus synthetic or plastic materials. Look for a combination of soft leather upper and rubber soles for the best leather baby walking shoe to give your little walker the most support and flexibility.
Walmart Be Happy Blue Leather Baby Shoe, $17, Walmart.com
Walmart baby walking shoes are sold at price points that make them affordable, and they come in a large selection as well. These colorful leather baby walking shoes with the phrase 'be happy' from Walmart are a cute choice for baby’s first walking shoes. They're created from top-grade leather, and they boast non-slip soles.
PediPed Originals Lionel $45, Zappos.com
As one of the top five starter walking shoe brands for babies, the Pediped is loved for its genuine leather material and stamp of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association. The Original Lionel, which comes in three colors, is a great unisex walking shoe for babies. Reviewers praise them for their quality, calling them the perfect fit for beginning walkers.
Robeez Cable Chloe Baby Shoes $30, Myrobeez.com
If you are looking for a great winter baby walking boot, the Robeez Cable Chloe shoe is your best choice for baby walking shoes. Made with leather, suede soles, and rubber outsoles, the cushioned comfort fit allows your baby to move around easily without the worry of losing her shoes thanks to the secure side zipper. Recommended for light outdoor usage, your little one will love taking her first steps in these cute fringed booties.
Jack & Lily Sabrina Sandal $32, Jackandlily.com
Summer is just around the corner, so get ready for many days of walking in the sunshine with these comfortable leather baby walking shoes from Jack & Lily. The genuine leather and premium materials are bound with Jack & Lily’s signature rubber soles that are designed to give your toddler the most natural and flexible movements. Great cushioning and a Velcro strap support the ankles and soles of your baby’s little feet to make your walks worry-free.
Geox Respira B Jodie $55, Shopgeox.com
The brand Geox is internationally known for their specialization in patent-designed soles and breathable materials. These amazing baby walking shoes are made with waterproof material and temperature regulating abilities to ensure that your baby’s feet stay dry all day. The cute B Jodie in its Mary Jane style is a fun baby girl walking shoe to buy for your princess.