How to choose the best first walking shoes?

Updated on December 13, 2009
J.W. asks from San Mateo, CA
32 answers

Our pediatrician didn't provide conclusive advice about my son's shoes for beginning walking. He said that some parents prefer Robeez since they allow the child greater contact with the floor while others go directly to a Stride Rite type tennis shoe for the support factor. I would love some feedback from you fabulously wise Moms!

2 moms found this helpful

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Summary

Pediatricians now recommend walking barefoot for developing proper walking patterns, however, Soles should be extremely thin to allow your child to feel the floor, however these soles should still be durable, and supporting is important as well.

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W.H.

answers from Phoenix on

My son was bare/socking-footed inside the house and pretty much until he started walking, stride-rite leather shoes after that for the first couple years (I think we went through 3, maybe 4 pairs?)

My husband, my brother, and my dad all cannot wear tennis shoes, they have to wear leather shoes, hence my avoidance of sneakers for his first pair of shoes. Come to think of it, even now, my son does not like sneakers (he's in 1st grade now) and just wears sandals. Kids with hot feet are not going to keep their shoes on!

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A.E.

answers from Stockton on

I have always started out with barefeet, it is the best way for them to really get a feel for walking. With my 2 eldest daughters, we got Johny Jump Ups from Nordstrom for when they went outside. The leather was so soft and the rubber on the bottom was very flexible. They were also the only ones that would fit one of my daughters wide foot. I would not suggest to go to some cheap shoe store for their actual shoes, they need to be fitted and sized correctly and a lot of those stores don't carry a huge selection on sizes or widths. With my 3 year old twins, we used Robeez and also the generic ones from Target. We had several pairs and they just loved them. These were only for outside, as we don't wear shoes inside. So for the most part they are barefoot, even now. Also, I never had any problems with the generic ones from Target. The best thing is that you can throw them in the washer.

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C.M.

answers from San Francisco on

I will echo everyone else and say barefoot is best and then super soft-soled when outside. Robeez are good, but I also like Shooshoos. They are the same style as Robeez, but I think they are cuter and less expensive (especially on sale!) http://www.shooshoosusa.com/

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H.J.

answers from San Francisco on

My sister has a brother-in-law who is a foot doctor. He says that the only reason to have your child wear a shoe at all when first walking is for protection. He says it is very important for them to be able to feel the surface they are walking on with their feet. He strongly reccomends footware in this order

Bare Feet ~ Whenever possible
Socks ~ When it is cold
Robeeze or similar soft bottom shoe ~ When outside
Hard bottom shoes ~ When walking outside on rocks or dirt or another hard surface.

Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful
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A.O.

answers from San Francisco on

Robeez or barefoot is what recommended by our pediatrician. She told us that once our daughter was spending more time outside running we could move up a stride rite and that's what we did. We actually bought an in between shoe first to adjust her from the soft robeez to the more structured shoe and it worked well.
Have fun!
Liana

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L.D.

answers from Modesto on

Our doctor said no shoes until they are walking well, outdoors and need protection. Once they have really mastered walking, then it is easier for them to adjust to the confinement of shoes. Barefoot in summer, socks in winter. If you have hard floors you can buy socks with plastic/rubber dots on the bottom so they do not slip so easily in socks. I know Old Navy has sold them and I'm sure you can find them elsewhere....

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M.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Barefoot is best, after all that's how humans have been doing it since the beginning of time. My sons wore Robeez until they were about two . In winter, if it was raining, I would just carry them. In the house, it was almost always barefoot (or socks with non-skid bottoms).

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T.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Definitely Robeez or no shoes at all. Once they're walking well, make sure the shoes you get have enough flex in them--you don't want a stiff sole for him.

My boys wore Robeez forever--we LOVED them!!

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M.S.

answers from Stockton on

I've always been told and read that no shoes are best. However, if yo are outside that soft soled shoes are better then hard soled shoes. Robeez are great.

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O.K.

answers from San Francisco on

for my second child I did get pedi peds, they are great on foot and very cute! she actually had 2 pairs of them. though they do have some natural leather smell to them, it was fine with me.

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A.K.

answers from San Francisco on

I know that it is best for their growing feet to have no shoes. So I did use Robeez inside, and before they started to cruse. Pedipeds are also supposed to be good because they do not have a rigid sole, but have a bit more protection for outside. However, when both my kids were just starting to walk independently they seemed to be more steady and stable in harder soled shoes like Stride Right Stage 2 (which are still very flexible in the sole).

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S.K.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi J.,

Our pediatrician was pretty clear about shoes. Don't use them until the child actually needs foot protection ie, if she or he is walking outside and needs protection.

Rigid shoes used too soon, before the baby is actually walking can cause a problem and even lead to deformities.

My son just wore the soft slipper sock type moccasins, but the Robeez were about when my daughter needed them and they were very cute.

Once they need to walk outside, then we kitted our kids out at Striderite.

Tip: Register online with them and they will send you all there discount offers and sales info - or even better, if it's feasible, visit their outlet store in Gilroy. We found it to be half the price!

Good luck,
S.

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K.W.

answers from San Francisco on

I put my first son in Robeez until he was up and waking without falling too much and than switched him to a StrideRite show until he was 2......now I think I might try a slightly less expensive shoe to see how he does.

-K.

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S.M.

answers from Fresno on

When my oldest started walking he was barefoot most of the time, but when we went out I had him wear tennis shoes that i bought at Target or Payless (Stride Rite was way to expensive). I made sure that the shoes had good support and that the soles were flexible. My second son WOULD NOT wear shoes, he'd scream and cry and would kick them off so he wore socks only (it was winter) and then we discovered Robeez and he wore those until he'd finally wear "real" shoes (around 18 months, he was walking just before he turned 10 months). I bought a pair of Robeez on e-bay that were used so he could wear those for playing outside and an new pair for wearing out to church, friends houses etc.

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N.M.

answers from Chico on

When your son will be outside, I'd recommend the Stride Rite type to protect his feet.

One note about Shooshoos. I ordered some on-line because they are super cute and my daughter wore Robeez type shoes as a pre-walker, but they didn't fit like Robeez. Maybe my daughter has a chubby foot, but I couldn't even close the strap because I couldn't get it around her foot despite the shoe being plenty long enough. This may only apply to the mary-jane style, which I doubt you will be getting for your son, but I thought it worth mentioning.

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L.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I haven't read your other responses yet, but I loved pedipeds for my little boy. They are expensive new (as are striderites), but I bought mine used from another mom via my parent's group on-line classifieds. We also had striderite shose, but my little guy would trip with them because he'd catch his toe, since the shoes were clunkier...
I'd say after a few months of walking where your baby is a more skilled walker, you can try the heavier shoes.

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A.E.

answers from Stockton on

I have always started out with barefeet, it is the best way for them to really get a feel for walking. With my 2 eldest daughters, we got Johny Jump Ups from Nordstrom for when they went outside. The leather was so soft and the rubber on the bottom was very flexible. They were also the only ones that would fit one of my daughters wide foot. I would not suggest to go to some cheap shoe store for their actual shoes, they need to be fitted and sized correctly and a lot of those stores don't carry a huge selection on sizes or widths. With my 3 year old twins, we used Robeez and also the generic ones from Target. We had several pairs and they just loved them. These were only for outside, as we don't wear shoes inside. So for the most part they are barefoot, even now. Also, I never had any problems with the generic ones from Target. The best thing is that you can throw them in the washer.

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S.M.

answers from Stockton on

I'll have to give my vote to Pedipeds, Robeez and See Kai Runs. No offense to people who like Stride Rite but I think their shoes are so ugly. To get through the beginning walking stages we did no shoes, robeez to get dirty in and Pedipeds for just going out. Then went to a pair of See Kai Runs shoes that were really good on her feet. I also have to say this whole summer she was in a pair of sandles from the Children's Place and I loved them.

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T.T.

answers from Yuba City on

My son will be a year in October. He's been walking since he was about 8 months. The best thing for them is 'bare feet'. They learn their balance and how to walk much better. When we go to the park I put Robeez on him. They're the next best thing to bare feet. And at that, he's about 90% of the time bare foot anyways. I've noticed he likes no shoes, even in the grocery stores but at the park it's a must. Try to stay clear of shoes that are cute/supportive, etc until your child has a good sense of balance of walking.

N.D.

answers from San Diego on

Pediatricians now recommend walking barefoot for developing proper walking patterns, however, Soles should be extremely thin to allow your child to “feel” below them, however these soles should still be durable. We found <a href="http://www.pletukobabyshoes.com&quot;&gt;Pletuko baby shoes</a> to be a great fit for our baby. They provide the balance between safety and nature.

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M.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I love "See Kai Run" shoes. They are leather like Robeez, but have a rubber sole. They are super cute too! Both my sons learned to walk in them and my 1 1/2 year old is still wearing them and will continue to do so until around 2 1/2.

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L.H.

answers from Sacramento on

I suggest the Robeez, if money is an issue Target carries a generic brand that is the same except they can get crunchy if they get wet and you have to massage that out. I used Stride Rite for my older children and Robeez for my younger. When they are first learning to walk the sensory integration element is key and sense they can't feel the bottoms of their feet with the Stride Rite it can effect this development. I say use Robeez while they learn to walk and once they are going really good (18 months or so) then go to Stride Rite.

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S.E.

answers from San Francisco on

Our doc said no shoes until she is going to walk outside and needs protection.

We went with a slipper shoe at first for outside, then a Nike when she went to school.

Stephanie

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R.F.

answers from Stockton on

My doctor said going barefoot is best but if you like to head out of the house with your toddler go to Payless shoes. They make very stylish shoes which are are typically wider widths, perfect for toddler feet. As quickly as they grow out of them, why pay more, when you can payless. (my family knows me for using this tagline quite often, lol)

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M.P.

answers from San Francisco on

I would say to try Robeez, but if your son has big feet, they won't fit. My son has huge feet (size 8XW at 18 months) so we had to go straight to StrideRite, and they were a little harder for him to et the hang of. I agree though, try to go barefoot as much as possible. It really helps them learn and balance.

Good luck!

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M.C.

answers from Stockton on

Hi,

I like Robeez.

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C.F.

answers from San Francisco on

We started with Robeez and then went to a regular sandal/shoe. Our Ped said to get shoes with good support.

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T.S.

answers from Sacramento on

You can get soft leather robeez type shoes at target for about $12. Our DS wore those a lot when he was learning to walk unless we were going outside (since they don't protect against sharp objects on the ground). He had (and has) really big feet so the StridRites in his size weren't for beginning walkers so we I tried to keep him out of them until he was proficient, but if your son has a more normal foot size, you might like the stage 1 or 2 striderites.

M.L.

answers from Redding on

My son was in the soft moccasin type shoes until about 1 1/2. I think we got them at Target. If you can't find socks with traction, paint his regular socks with puff paint (stripes, dots, whatever design you want)

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J.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Looks like most have already said it, but barefoot is best. I found this site and have used these shoes for my son and he loved them. They're a bit pricey but last fairly well...

http://preschoolians.com/

They have a lot of the Robeez styles only w/ a little more of a sole. They also have styles that fit your child's stage (prewalker to runner) and fit feet from slim to extra wide w/ their inserts. Highly recommend them!

take care,
J.

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C.M.

answers from San Francisco on

I will echo everyone else and say barefoot is best and then super soft-soled when outside. Robeez are good, but I also like Shooshoos. They are the same style as Robeez, but I think they are cuter and less expensive (especially on sale!) http://www.shooshoosusa.com/

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A.O.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi J.. I have a 14 mo. old daughter and when she started really walking - like more than just inside the house, we found a slip on shoe was the best for a couple of reasons. She has both types (Robeez & Stride Rite) and she was more comfortable in a slip on shoe and they are much easier to get on. We worked up to the more traditional shoe and I think it helped her in the end.

Also - you should check out Sweet Shoes - very cute and easy to wear and also provides a little more foundation than the Robeez - and they look more like the Stride Rite! Hope this helps!

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M.T.

answers from Bakersfield on

Hi J.!
We went with Robeez when he started crawling because he wore holes in everthing until we did that. So, his first walking shoes ended up being Robeez. We continue to use them when it's cool in the mornings while still in the house. As far as outdoor shoes, we chose Pediped brand shoes which have turned out to be great. He used them outside and continues to use them especially, since Pediped has come up with a solid sole version. They are a great little shoe and cater to his still developing feet. Check it out online. We've had great experiences with these and I hope to continue using them for as long as I can. I tried StrideRite, but the Pediped Flex style was way more flexible than the Stride Rite was, so I returned the Stride Rite. Some sites like Endless.com offer free shipping and free returns in case they don't fit. It's fast and hassle free. Hope you find something you like, but I highly recommend Pediped to start for outdoor shoes and Robeez for indoors.

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W.H.

answers from Phoenix on

My son was bare/socking-footed inside the house and pretty much until he started walking, stride-rite leather shoes after that for the first couple years (I think we went through 3, maybe 4 pairs?)

My husband, my brother, and my dad all cannot wear tennis shoes, they have to wear leather shoes, hence my avoidance of sneakers for his first pair of shoes. Come to think of it, even now, my son does not like sneakers (he's in 1st grade now) and just wears sandals. Kids with hot feet are not going to keep their shoes on!

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A.S.

answers from San Francisco on

James really perfered to have no shoes on at all. BUt that only worked when we were at home. I ended up getting him Robeez type shoes. They sell them at Target for $12 a pair which is a lot more resonable for baby shoes in my opion. He wore those for about 3 months and then we schitched to regular shoes. It took him a little bit to get use the shoes every time we changed but know he does just fine with any shoes.

Next question: Looking for Decent Socks/shoes for Beginner Walker