How To Choose Shoes For Children, Babies, and Toddlers

How do parents properly choose shoes for children, babies, and toddlers?  As adults, we suffer from bunions, hammertoes and foot pain.  We often wish we could go back in time and make better footwear choices. However, as parents we are quick to buy our children the flimsy shoes on the discount rack, since “they’ll grow out of them in six months anyways.”

A child’s feet will have to last them a lifetime and good foot health starts from the day they enter this world. Some children require extra foot care, such as orthotics or bracing, but all little feet should be supported by a quality shoe.

Did you know that BioPed Chiropodists and Pedorthists are specially trained in foot care, orthotics and shoes? Our foot specialists recommend that all children visit the clinic for a proper shoe fitting and baseline foot exam.

Here are some of our expert guidelines on how to choose shoes for children, babies, and toddlers:


Babies’ Shoes

Babies do not need shoes. These newborns, sitters and crawlers only need booties or socks to keep their feet warm, or pre-walking shoes that do not bind their feet. The shoe should be highly flexible.  They should NOT be rigid or stiff in the sole. It’s very important that the shoe be shaped like the child’s foot. Always inspect the inside of the boot or sock and trim loose strings that could catch one of your baby’s toes and cut off the circulation. It is best use socks with a pre-walking shoe as their feet can be sweaty and cause friction on their tender toes.

Your baby can certainly go barefoot in a protected environment such as indoors. In fact, this is encouraged!


Toddlers’ Shoes

Shoes for toddlers (9 months to 3 years) should allow the foot to breathe, since their feet sweat profusely at this age. Parents are urged to avoid toddler shoes that are made of synthetic materials.

For children 9-18 months, choose a high top shoe which will stay on the foot better than an oxford style. A leather or canvas shoe is more secure and will stay on the foot better. The sole of the shoe should be smooth, like the palm of your hand. A smooth sole means less friction, so the shoe won’t grab the floor and cause your child to fall. Choose a light-weight shoe, since children use a lot of energy walking and you don’t want to weigh them down.

Toddlers can go barefoot in a protected environment, such as indoors.


School-Aged Children’s Shoes

Style and shoe fit are important for school-aged children. At this age, they can choose from a variety of options including sandals, boots, athletic or dress shoes.

Look for well-ventilated shoes that allow a thumb’s width of growth and follow Your Shoe Shopping Guide for Children.


For More Information

To learn more about how to choose shoes for children, babies, and toddlers, ask a specialist at one of our 75 foot care clinics across Canada.  To find your closest location, you can visit