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Easy to slip on with space for little feet to breath. Tan like barefoot shoes made by Preschoolians, $27.
All You Need to Know About
Babies don't have to wear their first shoes until they're spending must of their time either cruising or walking. Until then, they're better off barefoot. "Babies need to exercise their toes and their arch muscles," says Carol Frey, M.D, an orthopedic surgeon and Los Angeles. "That helps them develop greater foot strength and better balance and leads to fewer foot deformities."
When it's time to buy shoes, go to a store that specializes in children's footwear and ask for a pair of first walkers. "These are soft, lightweight shoes with a flat rubber of crepe sole," says Cathy Dubin, shoe manager at the Children's Boutique, in Philadelphia. "They have some rigidity in the heel area but bend easily at the balls of the feet.
First walkers come in a variety of styles, although most have a rounded toe box to allow a child a bit of wiggle room. Choose a pair that laces up of that closes with Velcro tabs- as opposed to slip-ons or styles with straps- so the shoes will stay on your baby's feet securely. High- top shoes are also a good choice because they're harder for a child to pull off. Contrary to popular belief, a child does not need ankle support at this age. Nor does he need arch support, since he won't have much of an arch until he's about three years old.
Look for shoes with insoles or made of an absorbent fiber and an upper part made of soft natural material, such as leather of canvas. Avoid sneakers at first; their soles are typically made of thick, inflexible rubber, and the canvas or leather upper part tends to be thick as well, making them heavy. Also, babies should not wear boot, slippery-soled party shoes, moccasins, and anything with a heel.
Little feet grow quickly, so you can plan on spending a lot of time- and money-keeping your child in comfortable, well fitting shoes.
Our step-by-step guide will help you take shoe shopping in stride.
The typical child's foot grows by more than a half size every three months when he's younger than 16 months old, every three months when he's between 16 and 24 months old, and every four months or so when he's 2 to 3 years old. Growth typically slows down after that, but you should still check your child's shoes for fit about every four months.
When you find yourself struggling to get your toddler's shoes on, it's time for a new pair. A shoe should always slide on easily. Red pressure marks, blisters or calluses on his feet are more than sure signs he needs new shoes.
The best shoes are made of breathable material such as leather, suede, nubuck and canvas. Avoid synthetics, which can cause your child's feet to sweat.
Hand-me-downs are okay for party shoes and ran or snow boots, but always try to buy new shoes for everyday wear.
How to Get the Perfect Fit
Ask a salesperson to measure your child's feet, or use a metal fitting device to do it yourself. Make sure to measure both feet, and fit the shoe to the larger foot. Always try on shoes before buying, since sizes vary enormously from one manufacturer to the next.
Young kids reflexively curl up their toes when trying on footwear. So open up the shoe as wide as possible before your child puts her foot in it. That way, she'll unclench her toes when she stands. If she doesn't, relax, press down gently with you fingers.
When your child is standing, check to see that there's about a thumb width (or half an inch) from her longest toe to the front of the shoe, her heel should be up against the back of the shoe to get and accurate measurement.
Check the width by running your finger around the sides of the shoe. If you can't move your finger easily, the shoe is too tight. If it feels too wide, adjust the laces or Velcro tabs to try to get a tighter fit.
Have your child walk around in the shoes for a few minutes. If her heel slips out, the shoe is too big. If she's lifting her feet more than usual, the shoes may be too heavy or stiff. If she's oblivious to them that a sign they're comfy. Remember: Well fitting shoes never need a break-in period.