When should my baby start wearing shoes?

It is recommended that babies learn to walk in bare feet or socks in order to experience proper ground feedback. Infants learn to walk by gripping the ground with bare feet. Your baby only needs shoes once they start walking outside, to protect their feet from any uneven or sharp ground, or to protect feet if the weather is very hot or cold. Before they start walking, you can use socks or baby booties to keep their feet warm. If their daycare requires shoes, consider a soft-soled bootie or first walker shoe.

When your baby begins to get steady on their feet and is ready to adventure outside, you can try a shoe with these features for healthy development:

  • Foot-shaped toe box: The shoe should follow the naturally asymmetric shape of feet, allowing for increased width at the toe box in comparison to the heel. Baby feet are soft and pliable, and take shape as they grow, so it’s important that their first shoes are shaped like feet and the toe boxes follow the naturally asymmetric shape of feet.

  • Flat heel with no raise: Even a quarter inch heel can feel two to three times higher on a toddler, as their feet are proportionally smaller than an adult’s. A heel lift causes the foot to bear more weight at the front, and can make the foot slide forward forcing the toe against the front of the shoe. 

  • Flexible soles: Shoes should be flexible, especially at the ball of the foot, for kids to move naturally. If you can’t bend the shoes easily, they are not flexible enough. While being sturdy enough to protect against environmental hazards, the soles should also be thin to ensure the feet can feel the ground beneath them as they walk and send signals to the brain to enable natural and balanced movement.


This article has been reviewed by our team of experts.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article does not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about any health or medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment you should consult with your pediatrician or a licensed healthcare provider.