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 Association of Pediatrics) recommend that you allow your child to practice walking barefoot first. Learning how to grip the floors and coordinate their steps with little or no support gives children 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 best baby walking shoes should protect your kiddo’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. 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
How to Fit 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 the right 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 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. 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 feel snug when 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 baby girl or boy 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 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; the shoe may be too tight if you can’t grab any material. 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 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 kiddo 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, there are plenty of similarly rough and tough walking shoes for babies that can withstand the wear and tear of constant activity.
Jumping Jacks Kids’ Perfection
For some quality baby walking shoes, the round toe leather sneakers from Jumping Jacks Perfection are 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.
Buy it: Starting from $50, Amazon.com
Baby Deer Stichout 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 baby walking shoes, thanks to their leather upper and tractioned rubber outsole.
Buy it: $42, Zappos.com
Josmo Kids’ Unisex Walking Shoes First Walker
Your little one will easily learn to balance when they step out 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 baby’s first birthday.
Buy it: Starting from $11, 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: $52, Maisonette.com
Hard Bottom Baby Walking Shoes
Today’s baby hard bottom walking shoes are different from those of the past. Forget those inflexible hard soles that created difficulties for little ones first 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 solid, supported steps.
Carter’s Every Step Stage 1 Girl’s and Boy's Alex Crawling Shoes
Carter’s Every Step Alex baby walking shoes are superb cheap first walking shoes to start any child with. An effortless Velcro strap snugly secures little feet and a comfortable fit gives lots of room for your child to grow into. Plus, there are different color combinations to choose from.
Buy it: Starting from $17, Amazon.com
See Kai Run Atlas II Waterproof Insulated Boot
The Atlas II boots by See Kai Run offer grippy soles for extra stability. They’re designed with looped straps for even more security. Bonus: These baby walking shoes are waterproof and come with a toe cap. That way, your child won’t be discouraged by wet or stubbed toes.
Buy it: $75, Nordstrom.com
Stride Rite Kids’ Olive Girl’s Machine Washable Fisherman Sandal
These baby girl walking shoes are made with an adjustable hook and loop closure as well as a thick traction outsole. They’re perfect first walking shoes for warmer weather, especially since they’re equipped with “anti-stink” linings. That being said, they’re machine washable to really prevent odor—how amazing is that?
Buy it: Starting from $33, Amazon.com
Minnetonka Kids Double Fringe Side Zip Bootie
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. Bonus: The shoes come in both bright and neutral shades.
Buy it: $33, Zappos.com
Nike Flex Contact Running Shoes
Is your kiddo really on the go? These knit Nike baby walking shoes—or should we say running shoes—are ultra-flexible to promote natural movement in a cozy way.
Buy it: Starting from $43, Nordstrom.com
White Baby Walking Shoes
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. Whether it’s for their first baptism or first birthday, white baby walking shoes stand out with any outfit and can add a touch of formality if needed.
Converse Kids Chuck Taylor All Star Core Ox in Optical White
Share your 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
Nike Air Force 1 Sneakers
The Nike Air Force 1s are the ultimate baby’s first walking shoes for any parents eager to relive their high school basketball days. Not only are Nike Air Force 1s ultra-cool, but they also have outstanding durability for wear, lightweight cushioning and high-top leather for comfort and support. If you’re a huge fan of the classic Nike brand, you’ll be satisfied with how these walking shoes for babies live up to their name.
Buy it: $38, Nordstrom.com
Keds Daphne T-Strap Sneakers
Another ode to the classics, the Keds Daphne baby girl walking shoes duplicate the styling of the original Keds, but with T-strap detailing. The tough, padded collar makes for easy slip-on while also securing baby’s ankle. The leather upper and rubber sole allow for natural movements as your munchkin explores their world.
Buy it: $30, Nordstrom.com
Baby Deer First Steps Ballet with Bow
These pretty baby girl walking shoes will step up your child’s style game (check out those super-sweet bows). Like most of the best first walking shoes, they boast durable soles and adjustable—but not easily undoable—straps.
Buy it: $32, Zappos.com
Robeez Mini Shoez Girls’ High Top Sneaker in White
Go beyond basic sneakers with this pair, featuring lovely ruffles and bows. The ultra-soft leather is perfectly flexible, as are the elasticized ankles.
Buy it: Starting from $24, Amazon.com
Leather Baby Walking Shoes
Your best bet to avoid sweaty, 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.
Momo Baby Boys First Walker Toddler Dinosaur Leather Sneaker Shoes
These baby walking shoes are practical and just plain adorable. They have all the best features, like Velcro straps and hard-but-flexible soles, plus a colorful dinosaur design. Not to mention, they boast a fanned toe box (giving each little piggie enough room to move) and are recognized by the American Podiatric Medical Association for benefitting foot health.
Buy it: Starting from $35, Amazon.com
Pediped Lionel Originals
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.
Buy it: $27, Zappos.com
Livie & Luca Molly Mary Jane
Your tot will love cruising (or hopping!) around in these rabbit-inspired baby walking shoes. Cushioned footbeds will make their steps as soft as a bunny.
Buy it: $61, Nordstrom.com
Jack & Lily Sabrina Sandals
Get ready for many days of walking in the sunshine with these comfortable vegan leather baby walking shoes from Jack & Lily. The floral sandals’ premium materials are bound with Jack & Lily’s signature rubber soles that are designed to give your child the most natural and flexible movements. Great cushioning and a Velcro strap support the ankles and soles of baby’s little feet to make your walks worry-free.
Buy it: $36, JackandLily.com
UGG Libbie Metallic Boot
For colder weather, consider baby Uggs! This shimmery style is extra-special since it zips up instead of slips on. Meanwhile, a bow tie keeps them even more secure. The wool interior is warm but also moisture-wicking.
Buy it: $65, Nordstrom.com
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.
Updated February 2019
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