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When should children wear their first pair of shoes?

Next week my daughter turns 1 and the biggest question I get asked…. Is she walking yet? I have many friends with babies of a similar age and recently many of them have started to think about shoes for their little ones. It’s so exciting thinking about that first pair of shoes and the excitement that first trip holds, however be aware – if your child has shoes fitted too early this can actually hinder their foot development!

You shouldn’t consider buying shoes for your child until they are confidently walking on their own and walking outdoors. When this is the case you should only limit the shoes to be worn when they are outside, indoors your child should walk barefoot. Whilst your child is developing and learning to walk the muscles are weak and bones soft. When walking barefoot your child will be able to feel the ground more and therefore balance and coordinate more easily. As their bones are soft, cramping their feet into shoes too early on and for too long, can squash these fragile bones and hinder their development.

When you feel your child is ready for their first pair of shoes remember to take your child to a shoe shop where their feet can be measured correctly. The shoe fitter should advise you on the best style of shoe for your child and check they fit properly. Look for a supportive shoe with a buckle, velcro fastening or laces, to hold your child’s feet in place. The sole should be flexible and lightweight with a good grip. You should choose a pair made of a breathable material, such as leather, cotton or canvas.

Your child will need shoes of a specific length and width. When your child tries on a pair of shoes, feel around the toe area to make sure there is plenty of room. There should be about 1cm of growing room between the end of their longest toe and the end of the shoe. Let your child walk around in the shoes, making sure their feet don’t slip forwards or out of the shoes when they walk or stand on tip toe, as this could damage them. If their feet slip forwards this could squash their toes against the end of the shoe. If their shoes are too loose they will end up having to curl their feet and toes to prevent them slipping off.

You should have your child’s feet measured every six to eight weeks. They will grow about two shoes sizes a year, so they will need new shoes fairly frequently. Continue to have their feet measured regularly until they are about four years old. After this you can get them measured every three months.

It’s always best to buy new shoes. Second-hand shoes won’t give your child the right support for her developing feet. They will already be moulded to another child’s feet, and the soles will have worn down to fit a different walking style.


Most importantly enjoy this special time!