My daughter started crawling at 8 months and within two weeks was cruising around her pack-n-play. I started looking at walking shoes when she was 10 months thinking it might go quickly, and I needed to be prepared with appropriate shoes. We were at my parents at the time in the US. So my mom and I went and looked at shoes to see what was out there, because I don’t get to spend much time with my mom, but also because everything is cheaper in the US (or at least it used to be until Brexit!).
First we went to Stride Rite on our own and looked at the shoes – there was a lot of leather in boring colors and nothing that I thought was cute. Next we went to Journeys for Kids with my daughter. Speaking to the manager I found out that a good pair of shoes is essential for learning how to walk correctly. I initially wanted to get her converse because I think they are so cute. However the manager informed me that they are hard shoes to learn to walk in because the sole doesn’t flex. New Balance are flexible soles that she recommended for first walkers. I also learned that when babies are learning to walk they need to be barefoot to get the ‘feel’ for walking, however if you wait too long to put proper shoes (not soft soles) then it becomes difficult for them to accept shoes becoming a struggle for both of you.
My advice for baby shoes in general:
- don’t buy anything with a rubber sole until your baby is actually walking, they will be a lot of money for something you won’t use at all
- buy soft cloth soled shoes to protect their feet instead while they stand on the floor/ground and learn to practice standing or taking a couple steps – they will be much cheaper and when they are so young they go through shoes very quickly
- I bought Baby Gap soft shoes: tennis shoes, ballets slippers and flip flops – all worked out perfectly and are sold by months which made it easier to figure out her size
- My good friend bought me the cutest floral Toms in 9-12 months when she was 10 months and cruising but it was impossible to keep them on! When she tried taking steps or standing and she would just walk right out of them! I even bought no show baby socks to try and keep them on which worked for a couple minutes longer but they still came off. I felt so bad because Toms are ridiculously expensive but it was impossible to get any use out of them. So I definitely don’t recommend Toms until your baby can walk and tries them on in the store and taking some steps. The other thing is that the velcro is easy to take off and not tight enough to keep them on.
What I Did
So I bought super cute New Balance shoes in a size larger (US size 4 I know she has tiny feet so far) – I also learned that babies feet tend to grow in the Spring and a pair of shoes a size larger should last 6-12 months. Seven months later our shoes still fit with some room to grow 🙂 Because I couldn’t resist I also got her two pairs of Converse to wear once she got the hang of walking.
We got back from the US and had a month before I went back to work and my daughter went to daycare full time. I wanted her to be walking when she started daycare so she would be more mobile and less vulnerable being stepped on. She was a super fast crawler so walking was actually easier for us! For three weeks before daycare we woke up in the morning and played in her room before she ate breakfast an hour later (to adjust to daycare timings). We bought her a walker and she loved it. We would practice walking with her walker every morning even if it was her just pushing it for a couple steps. After a week or so she got really good at it so I started putting the New Balance shoes on her feet in the morning so she could practice walking with them on as well. This helped a lot because she was dragging her one foot behind slightly and the shoes made this worse so she had to practice picking her feet up or else she would fall. Consistently practicing with the walker for at least 20min a day really helped her master walking quickly. We have a three storey narrow house so I would close all the baby gates and doors and just let her go crazy in her bedroom and the hallway doing loops.
It took her three weeks to successfully walk for a while unassisted, about two months to master walking and four months before she picked up speed. After two months of walking well we started to rotate her Converse shoes into the mix to get some wear out of them. They were difficult for her to walk in at first, even though she had no issues walking in her New Balance. Now after five months she can successfully wear any of her shoes without any issues.
I definitely recommend New Balance shoes to learn to walk in because they are the correct support and flex for their little developing feet, yet still are cute. She gets so many compliments on her red New Balance.
***** UPDATE***** She is now 22 months and we had to buy her new shoes in May because her feet grew. She wore her New Balance for 10 months once she started walking. I did buy her a size 5 and other larger sizes. I couldn’t find online anywhere about whether or not kids wear every size shoe or if they skip sizes. Well I can tell you that she went from a US 4 to wearing a US 6 to have enough room to grow and for the shoes to last. The US size 5’s I bought are a little tight and I won’t get much use out of them as they were better as she was growing out of the size 4. My advice if you want to buy shoes in the future because they are so cute and on clearance is to wait until your child starts wearing shoes and then whatever size that is starting the next spring add two sizes to last the next year and so on. From now on I will only buy even sizes and skip the odds to get the most use out of the shoes. And I also bought her another pair of Toddler 574 New Balance this time in hot pink 🙂
For more info about what else I did to prepare for daycare read How Not To Feel Like A Bad Mom
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