Should New Walkers Be Wearing Shoes?

Updated on February 19, 2008
C.T. asks from Powell, OH
37 answers

I have a 12 1/2 month old daughter who started walking the day before her 1st birthday. She currently walks very well with good balance and crawling seems to be a thing of the past. I have seen mixed information regarding whether or not she needs to be wearing shoes - while at home. I understand they should be worn when out in public for her safety. Can anyone direct me to an appropriate resource about the type(s) of shoes that should be worn (if any) and how much of they day she should be wearing them? It seems to me she also walks on the insides of her feet - although it has only been about 2 weeks.

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R.R.

answers from Cleveland on

I had always heard that being bare foot or wearing shoes was okay when babies first start to walk. I have had help for my Grandson, who will be 2 next month, through the shoe store Stride Rite. They have a three step shoe program that may be helpful.

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S.F.

answers from Fort Wayne on

In my opinion...
Most children's shoes are very restrictive and have hard and unbendable soles. It makes walking more difficult.

Shoes really do not need to be worn. If you need them in the beginning, use shoes with pliable soles. Fred Tongues shoes is great for kids. Otherwise, just go with a sole that has some cushion and doesn't have too hard of a sole. It seems like a lot of little ones just go clodding around like Frankenstein because the soles are so restrictive.

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D.W.

answers from Jacksonville on

My boys were 12 months and 9 months when they started walking. I put shoes on them almost everytime we went out from day 1 (little obsession with shoes) When we were home I never put shoes on them and they didn't have any walking problems.

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B.E.

answers from Cincinnati on

no shoes. This is a question that you should be asking your pediatrician, who will tell you, no shoes. Shoes with hard soles put strain on their developing hip and knee joints. They need to learn balance and fine skills with walking climbing and running barefoot.

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J.G.

answers from Cleveland on

In the last 4 years I have had 3 little ones (soon to be 4, 2 1/2 and 8 mo.), none of them wear shoes at home. The 2 "older" ones didn't even wear shoes in the backyard when they were learning to walk. I was told by our Dr., that shoes can cause balance issues when kids are learning to walk. To make sure that have great balance before putting shoes on them, because they have to learn to re-balance when you put them in shoes and that each pair of shoes are differnt. So, if you choose to put shoes on her, pick one pair so that she doesn't have to keep adjusting her balance with each pair.

Good luck - she will be into everything now that she is up and about :)

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M.T.

answers from Cleveland on

I remember hearing from a few different sources (one, I think, was the pediatrician) when my son was at that age that it's best to NOT have them wear shoes as much as possible - even when you go out (if you're going somewhere where she'll still be inside, on carpet, etc.) .... If I recall correctly, the reasoning was that having NO shoes helps them get the feel of balancing on their feet properly ... my son was virtually shoeless (he wore socks of course!) until he really started walking all the time - and now he's five and seems perfectly fine.

Here's what I found on the web: "Doctors recommend that babies learn to walk in their bare feet. Babies who learn to walk in their bare feet are more likely to have proper development in their feet." (from RefreshArticles.com)

From ParentCenter.com: "Until then, he'll just need some socks or booties to keep his tootsies warm when it's cold. In fact, even after your child's racing around, it's a good idea to let him go barefoot whenever it's safe. He'll enjoy the sensation of various surfaces (soft sand, lush carpet, cool tile) beneath his feet, and a barefoot base will him build strength and coordination in his legs and feet, too. For places where he'll need protection, though (outdoors or on a splintery surface, for example), get him a pair of comfy shoes that will aid his toddling efforts.
"With all this focus on feet, you may notice a few things that make you wonder. Keep in mind that a child's foot is still developing, and so it might not look — or act — like an adult foot. If your child still has a padding of baby fat under his arches, for example, he might appear a bit flat-footed. Or he may have a tendency to turn his toes in when he walks, called "in-toeing" or "toeing in" (which most kids outgrow by the time they reach school age). Be sure to mention any concerns at your next well-baby checkup, because foot problems are much easier to correct when your child is little. Other concerns to point out include a foot that rolls in at the ankle, or one foot that turns in more than the other."

Any shoes you do get for when she's out need to be very, very flexible - almost a soft fabric kind of sole - so she gets the feel of balancing.

Have fun!

-- M. :)

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J.S.

answers from Bloomington on

Don't worry about her walking on the insides of her feet yet...she is still learning and growing. If she continues past 18-24 months, you might consider asking your pediatrition, but my guess is they will still tell you it's normal at this age.

About the shoes, there are slipper type shoes such as bobux shoes (bobuxusa.com) that provide a natural soft sole that still protects your baby's feet. I recommend these only for indoors though, because of the leather bottoms in wet weather they are not ideal. We used Stride Rite with my toddler and they were wonderful for going out in. Most importantly do not force your child to wear the shoes. Introduce them, let her play with them, put them on and talk about them...but do not be concerned if she does not like them at first.

When she's at home - no shoes. Children this age learn so much through any type of sensory experiences even if it is walking around barefoot on different surfaces. She will also be more stable and confident this way.

Good luck!

J.

Mom of 21 month old, infant/toddler/twos teacher.

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C.G.

answers from Indianapolis on

The newest reports say that the less they are in shoes the better (contrary to what our parents were told). If they are out, then shoes are good for safety, but at home, free feet are the way to go.

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J.H.

answers from South Bend on

My son is now five and I remember this dilemma! I am going to tell you what I did...keep doing what you are doing. I kept my son's shoes off indoors and on outdoors. My mom took us to get my some orthopedic shoes (you know the white high-top kind we used to wear?) But they were expensive and weren't necessary. I would take your daughter to a shoe store to get her 1st walking shoes and to have her feet properly sized so you know. Later on, since I knew where to start, I would go to Target or Walmart to get new shoes. (Target has a carpet sizer and Walmart has the regular metal sizer.)You just don't want the shoes to be too loose(tripping) or too tight (comfort). You want to make sure the toes are one thumbnail's length away at the toe for growth(your thumbnail=1/2 inch)and you can slide your finger around the ankle easily w/o tightness or looseness.

As for the walking on the insides of her feet, its only been 2 weeks for her. My son was bow-legged. She should straighten out with time when her bones strengthen. I'd say give her until she's 2 before you worry about her orthopedics. Just keep your pediatrician informed of your concerns (I drove mine crazy!), but I think you should have no worries! ;)

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M.C.

answers from Cleveland on

My daughter started walking when she was 10 months old. We use robeeze for her around the house and we do have some stride rite shoes for walkers that we use when we go out. She has a harder time walking in the stride rite shoes. She has no problems with walking in the robeeze. I do try to have her wear the stride rites a little bit a day because a) they were expensive and I dont want the money to go to waste LOL and b) she does need to get used to walking in regular shoes.

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C.P.

answers from Cleveland on

As far as walking on the inside of her feet, I wouldn't worry about it yet. I asked my daughter's doctor (on my mother's request) about her arches, or lack of arches, and was told ot to worry about foot problems while she is an infant since babies have so much fatty tissue in their feet while they are developing. For shoes, Robeez are probably the best for new walkers since they are almost like a slipper or sock. No real support, just a little cover from the elements, allowing them to still feel the ground and balance themselves instead of workig around a big lug sole. They run $30-$40, but Target and Baies R Us have ones that run $10-$15 and are basically the same. Stride Rite also offers shoes with a very flexible sole that is in sections so it bends easily for about $40, but again, Target also offers once like this for around $10 or less if you can find them on clearance.

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B.S.

answers from Columbus on

I have 2 children. With my first born I bought him a nice pair of "flexible" but still a hard sole shoe and he constantly tripped. I just figured it was just new to walking. My daughter just turned 1 and has been walking for 2 months. She lives in the Robeez soft soled shoes. Her toes are able to feel the floor helping her balance and right herself without falling. I'll have to get her a pair of "hard soled" shoes to play outside in when it warm but I will still use the Robeez inside. Another plus is the elastic around the ankle keeps her from pulling off her socks which is great during this cold weather! I got my Robeez off eBay but there are other similar shoes around with the same idea.

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K.F.

answers from Indianapolis on

Walking barefoot is by far best for new walkers! Any shoes that they wear should mimic being barefoot. New toddler should be barefoot as muchas possible and wear soft leather-soled shoes when they have to wear shoes. (The Robeez website (www.robeez.com) has information on why barefoot is best for new walkers, as well as medical testimonials, and seals ofapproval from podiatrists.) Robeez are the absolute best shoes for little ones--we've loved them! They have completely soft leather soles, so it's very similar to being barefoot. Also, they have a complete band of elastic around the ankle, so they stay on VERY well. (There are some other similar brands made now--I know Circo makes one that is carried at Target, Koala Kids makes one sold at BabiesRUs, etc. They are slightly less expensive, but I don't have direct experience with them.) Both my kids have worn Robeez both at home (when it was too cold to be barefoot--I let them be barefoot as much as possible) and when we go out. They wear them inside everywhere and also outside when the conditions aren't wet or dirty. (My daughter is 14mo and Robeez are her only shoes. And Robeez were my son's only shoes until he was 16mo, when it became winter and he needed to walk outside in the rain/snow often.) Robeez has just started selling "Robeez Tredz" that have an outdoor sole in the same great Robeez designed shoe. These are what I plan to get for my daughter when we eventually have to get her a shoe for heavy outdoor wear. But for now her soft-soled Robeez are the best! (Also, many babies "toe-in". It's discussed in an article here--http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T107100.asp) It's natural and normally resovles itself.)

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S.D.

answers from Indianapolis on

My son wears Robeez-type shoes all the time (both because it keeps his socks on and because it gives some traction on our hard wood floors). When we are going outside and it's warm enough for him to walk around, I put real, rubber-soled shoes on him.
You are supposed to wait until they walk well, but it sounds like your daughter has already gotten to that place? So I'd say go for it! It did take Eli some time to learn to walk in the harder-soled shoes, I had to show him it was fun to stomp around and make noise, otherwise, he'd just stand there and whine or only walk while holding on to our hands.

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J.L.

answers from Cincinnati on

Going barefoot at home as much as possible seems to be the recommendation from professionals. This helps those little feet get their natural arches and helps with balance. Also, buy shoes with flexible soles (for safety when out and about)- Stride rite has some great ones.

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A.L.

answers from South Bend on

shoes are so cute - but most of the shoes we put on our babies harm their feet! my son sees a podiatrist and she was overjoyed that he was wearing soft-soled shoes! she gave a whole list of reasons why they were great and why babies should be wearing them (if anything at all). we used them until he was about 17 months old and then went to stride rite and got him "big boy shoes".

you can get soft soled shoes at target for about 10-15 dollars. they are great! just so you know what you are looking for, go to http://www.robeez.com/Robeez-Soft-Sole-Robeez-baby-shoes/...

this is a more expensive brand. ive had both and dont see any difference between these and the ones from target.

hope that helps!

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K.M.

answers from Steubenville on

Hi C.

I also wondered this when my children started walking and I was informed by podiatrist that they should wear high baby shoes (the white ones you always see) so that they are properly supported.

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G.W.

answers from Muncie on

That all depends. if your child walks better with shoes or not. you don't want to set them back by doing eather. my kids did beter. with no shoes but I would put them on when we went out. My kids are all grown now and walk just fine.
G. W.

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M.F.

answers from Cincinnati on

My daughter will be two in the spring. I found and swear by Pediped shoes. They are soft sole shoes and are a perfect combination of getting your child used to shoes and protecting her feet while not wearing something that is to hard, heavy and harmful to her feet. My pediatrician complimented the decision as beest for her development.

Pediped is releasing a combination style in the spring for older toddlers that is a cross between the soft sole and rubber sole shoes. This will be a nice transitional shoe for her later.

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S.P.

answers from Cleveland on

I've always just put my kids in whatever shoes suit the occasion, tennis shoes, boots etc... but when at home they go in their bare feet or socks. None of them have any problems.

S.

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J.C.

answers from Kokomo on

Congrads on your daughter walking, thats also a great milestone. I gradually put shoes on my kids and stride rite has great shoes for new walkers. I'm not sure where you live but down in Indianapolis at the Castleton Mall they used to have a stride rite store and the people in there were great helping me pick out shoes.
Good luck with the walking.

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M.C.

answers from Columbus on

C.,
I used to work in a full service shoe store. Here is what I have learned, and followed for my own children. You have two good choices. It is good for children to be able to grip with their toes. So barefoot is important. It strengthens the muscles in their feet. A good option is shoes that look like leather slippers called Robeez. They actually stay on their feet!!! They are really expensive though. I have found them at Once Upon a Child for about $10-12 if money is a problem. They are wonderful!!!!
The next best option is to go with the first walkers at Stride Rite. No other "shoes" on the market are made better then Stride Rite's to support their feet. But once again, they can get pricey. I hope that this helps a little. Good Luck!

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K.V.

answers from Columbus on

From everything I have read and my peditrian, NONE. A lot of friends I know recommend the pediapeds. Because the're really flexible but they are expensive. When at home, my kids usually wear socks with a little of rubber grips on them. I have seen a few articles lately waring about wearing hand me down shows. Once my kids got to the running phase I made sure they wore a good quality shoe with pleanty of support.

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G.H.

answers from Cincinnati on

It is not necessary for new walkers to wear shoes. It is actually better for them not to wear shoes. However, in the cold weather months, you can purchase Robees(sp?). These are leather slippers which are very soft and non-slip. They have elastic around the ankles and are very comfy and still allow baby's feet to feel free! They are a little expensive, but I have also seen some cheaper versions at Babies R Us.

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D.K.

answers from Indianapolis on

NO. She should NOT be wearing shoes. I am a posture alignment and pain management specialist and KNOW without a doubt that the muscles in the lower extremities, INCLUDING the feet, need to be developed. Shoes restrict that.

Many times, in treating patients, I have them attempt to go barefoot. Many times it's difficult, so we chip away at it, BUT.....somewhere along the way...the proper muscles are functioning and walking barefoot no longer hurts or bothers them and they are without orthodics, if they wore them. It's all about muscular balance, EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO THE FOOT. Realize that the muscles in the foot are related to those in the hips. I see people ALL THE TIME who think they have foot problems when in all actuality, the problem (and most of the time IS) in the hip.

Hope this isn't too technical for you but if the opinion of a professional counts........NO SHOES!!!!!

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D.T.

answers from Muncie on

My little one is 18 months and I let her go barefooted at home. She's doing just fine in my opinion. Her doctor hasn't said anything and she was running around all over his office in her footy jammie this last checkup. She wares Faded Glory solid white, high ankles and good solid soles.

Good luck.

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C.D.

answers from Indianapolis on

I always bought my 3 girls first walking shoes when they began walking. Something with ankle support. Go to a children's specialty shoe store where the staff knows what they are doing. I never made my girls wear the shoes all day long but definately when we were out. The longer you wait to put real shoes on little ones, the harder it will be to get them to wear them. They will freak out when you try to put a real shoe on them. This also happens after a child has been wearing sandals all summer!! My daughter was not happy to wear shoes again in the fall. If you are in Greenwood, the Stride Rite store off of 31 has great shoes or Von Maur has nice european brands like Ecco that are great shoes.

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M.J.

answers from Columbus on

I agree with the others that Robeez are fantastic. Don't worry about the price because there are a lot of Robeez knock-offs out there to be found (Target sells some for around $12) and you can also find them on ebay for cheaper. I think most doctors now recommend soft shoes that don't restrict the feet for new walkers, or nothing at all.

Also, don't worry about your daughter walking on the insides of her feet. I was concerned about that with my first child but my doctor says that is completely normal and not to worry. As her muscles strengthen her feet will develop arches.

M.

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S.H.

answers from South Bend on

You are absolutely right about the concept of your lil one wearing shoes. However the best shoe i feel for the lil ones are the ones they sell at stride rite (they may sell them too at other retailers) but for beginner walker they have the shoes that go up a lil bit in the front and in the back in a curve like shape (not too drastic) to help them move from heel to toe and vice versa. I have fashion shoes i let my daughter wear with cute lil outfits but when we are really going to let her walk outdoors the shoes with the curves are really helpful. They dont seem to stub their lil toes in them. They are a little bit pricey (about 40) but well worth your baby's feet!!! Good luck and let us know what you decide!!!

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T.H.

answers from Columbus on

My son started taking steps early (around 10 months) but had problems with his ears. So, balance was a little off. As we were going into the winter months -- I thought shoes would be good to inquire. I asked my son's pediatric PT for assistance. She said tennis shoes are the best due to flexiblity of the shoes. To cut out the guessing on sizes, I went to Stride Rite for proper sizing. I learned that my son had a wide foot (it eventually grew into a extra wide foot). Stide Rite is expensive but I got on their mailing list for coupons and they had sales too. You also get a quality shoe. Also, once I got his size -- I checked the internet. I have accepted the fact that my son's feet will NOT narrow up a little to get normal width shoes. Now at 4 y/o, I have to get a couple types of shoes for winter (ie: boots). For the tennis shoes, softer leather is better too. I might add, my son did not like wearing his shoes at first. It took some time. Sandals for the summer -- I shop around as the velcro strap over the top of the foot is adjustable.

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A.C.

answers from Columbus on

My oldest is 5 1/2 and I have always heard that they don't need shoes when they are first walking. If they do it should be a soft flexible sole. They have cute ones at Target or the Robeez or plain socks with rubber on the bottom. After a few months then you can get shoes.

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J.K.

answers from Columbus on

Look into Robeez. My son wore them and they are kind of in between slippers and shoes. They stay on well and are not slippery on the bottom like socks are. They were wonderful for when my son was first walking. They are a little pricey, but you may be able to find some at a second hand store if the price is out of range.

Good luck.

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L.C.

answers from Columbus on

Nope. Bare feet or socks with rubber on the bottom are best. Robeeze are also great for at home and public places because they don't restrict the foot from the proper movement and the leather bottom prevents young walkers from slipping. Wait to buy good shoes for when your daughter becomes an expert walker.

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R.M.

answers from Cleveland on

I truly believe that new walkers need the expertise of Stride Rite. The staff at the Chapel Hill Mall are excellent in helping your young walker to start out with a good foundation. Being a nurse, I can really see the benefit of having great feet. She is entering a huge growing stage and Stride Rite has many choices to get her started.
R. M

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K.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

I would have a dr. look at her feet and legs if she seems to be walking on the insides or outsides of her feet. My sister' feet started to roll in (kinda of pigeon toed) when she started walking. As it turned out, her joints were very loose and she didn't have good natural arch support. The dr. was about to get corrective shoes and then orthotics for her to wear as she grew. By getting the support in there while she developed, they were able to strengthen her legs a lot. She still has to wear them, but they are a lot stronger than they were.

My youngest daughter also has a little bit of this problem, although it didn't show up until later. Otherwise, if they don't seem to have any problems, I don't think there's a recommendation for wearing shoes. Just use your own judgement.

Congrats on her walking!!!

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T.C.

answers from Toledo on

Hi..I have 2 girls, ages 4 and 1. When my oldest was starting to walk, I didn't put her in shoes at home...solely because everything I read said not to. It seemed to help her learn to walk. If I did put something on her feet, it was Robies...they are the best soft soled shoes. You can find them at Stride Rite, among other places.

My 1 year old is starting to walk now too and she's either barefoot at home or in her Robies. Even when we go out, she rarely wears "normal" shoes...she ends up curling her feet up when we try to put them on her. So, it's Robies or some easy to slip on Mary Janes.

Stride Rite shoe stores are great for findig that first pair of shoes. They size the little one's feet and make good recommendations for the right shoes.

Good luck!

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T.W.

answers from Dayton on

Hi there C.,

No you don't have to put shoes on her at home. With regards to her feet looking turned in a bit, she just started walking it should take care fo itself. If you notice later when she is walking better that it hasn't fixed itself, then and only then would I take her to see a Ortho.
Years ago when my kids were little, walking shoes for infants was the norm and expected. Nowdays any ortho will tell you it is not needed. We went through all this with a Ortho with my grandson. My grandson had bowed tibia's which is why he saw a Ortho, and we asked the same question, and got a No.
So have fun with her and watch her master the art of walking.

Good Luck
T.

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