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Choosing Perfect Toddler Shoes

Updated on March 29, 2011

Make Sure You Choose The Perfect Fit Shoes For Your Toddler

If we left it up to them our toddlers would rather fill our shoes
If we left it up to them our toddlers would rather fill our shoes

When is a toddler ready for shoes?

More or less when your little toddler reaches her first birthday she will take her first few brave steps. Until this momentous moment in her short life she will need nothing more than soft booties to keep her little feet warm. Once she starts walking she is going to need shoes not only for warmth but also as a measure of protection for her tiny little feet.

Although walking barefoot is still the best this is unfortunately not recommended when its freezing cold or blistering hot outside. In order to ensure that your toddler is able to develop her balance and move with confidence as she progresses from standing to walking and then to running it is imperative that you choose the correct shoes for your toddler.

Incorrect shoes at this crucial stage of her development can have serious consequences for your little child.

Well constructed shoes are sewn not glued together

Construction of Toddler Shoes

The toddler phase is an energetic experimental phase of a young child's life and their shoes must be durable and well constructed. One way of determining whether toddler shoes are well constructed is to check whether the shoes have been sewn or glued together. Shoes that have been sewn together are not recommended as play shoes for toddlers as they will more than likely not withstand the rough treatment handed out to them. You can however expect to pay slightly more for sewn shoes.

Contrary to what was previously believed, toddler shoes should be flexible with soft non-slip soles. This is necessary so that your toddler can feel the ground beneath them, thereby improving their sense of balance and making it easier for them to walk. Soft leather soled shoes are ideal as first shoes for toddlers and both leather or canvas shoes are comfortable and cool as they allow the toddler's feet to breathe.

How to determine the correct size shoe for your toddler

It is very important that toddler shoes must not only be better-made they must also be best-fitting. For this reason it is advisable to measure your toddlers feet to determine the correct size shoe that will provide a perfect fit. Measure both feet while your little girl is wearing socks. If you find she curls her toes get her to stand on a piece of paper and draw around her feet. Take the measurements of both feet and use the larger of the two measurements to select a size using a sizing chart.

For a proper fit there should be at least half an inch between the toes and the shoes to ensure room for movement.

There are several sizing charts available online. Bata's sizing chart can be downloaded and printed and is available at -

What Style Shoe is Most Suitable for Toddlers?

Choose toddler friendly shoes

Look for shoes that your toddler will be able to eventually put on and take off on their own. Shoes that slip on with elasticized ankles fit snugly and are easy for little hands to handle.

Velcro fastenings are also far more toddler friendly than laces but obviously that does not mean that you should not buy any lace up shoes for your child.

How To Get The Most Out of Your Toddler Shoes

  • Have at least three pairs of comfortable shoes for your toddler - one that you keep solely as "going out" shoes and two pairs of play shoes. You never know when you may need to wash one pair of play shoes and will need the second pair for wearing. Alternating the play shoes to match the clothing the child is wearing will allow them to last longer.
  • Wipe their shoes off each evening when you undress them for bathing. This will ensure that any dirt will be moved whilst it is still fresh and before it has become ingrained in the shoes. A damp cloth is usually all that is needed to keep the shoes looking as good as new.

Air Dry Toddler Shoes to Keep Them Fresh

  • Wash their machine washable shoes in the washing machine at least once a fortnight or as necessary. Make sure that the shoes are machine washable before doing so. This information should be on the label of the shoes. Remove any laces and allow these to soak in a bleaching or pre-wash solution overnight, depending on their color.
  • You can also place the laces and your toddlers socks in a bucket with one gallon of hot water to which you have added half a cup of lemon juice and two tablespoons of automatic dishwasher detergent. Soak the socks and laces for a minimum of half an hour or overnight if the items are very grubby. Rinse in cold water and launder the socks as usual.

  • Air dry their socks and shoes after washing. Never tumble dry shoes as you could ruin a perfectly good pair of your toddlers shoes in a dryer.


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    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 8 years ago from South Africa

      Thank You OTmommy

      I am glad that you took the trouble to add that useful information to my hub!


    • OTmommy profile image

      OTmommy 8 years ago from Southern USA

      Very thorough article. I like that you commented on toddler's shoes needing to be flexible. As a therapist who works with toddlers with developmental delays who need supportive yet flexible shoes, I never recommend flip-flops or croc type shoes. Toddlers also need time to go barefoot in order to develop the arches in their feet.