Your child’s first shoes

It’s time for your tot’s first shoes. But how do you know what's best to buy?

Leather shoes allow the feet to breathe more

You should think about shoes once your child is a confident walker

Watching your little one take her first steps is one of the proudest moments you’ll experience as a mum. But once she’s mobile, you’ll need to buy her first walking shoes, and getting the right pair is vital.


How do I know when she needs shoes?

“Wait until your little one is a confident walker before you buy new shoes”, says Start-rite fitting expert Andrew Alderton. He advises you to watch how far she can walk. “When your child can go from one end of the shop to the other, which can be any time from around 9 months up to 19 months, she’s ready for shoes,” he says.

So where do I go?

Your child’s feet need to be measured, so find a shop that has a trained fitter. “Out of five pairs of shoes that have the same width fitting, only one pair will actually fit properly,” Andrew warns.

A fitter will check the length first, and then look at the width, the fit at the heel, the depth across the top of the shoe and will check that her toes aren’t against the end. The fitter will also ask your child to walk around in the shoes and then look at her feet, to check that they don’t rub.

How do I find the perfect pair?

There is no such thing as a perfect fit, but an expert will be able to get the best possible match for your child’s feet. Andrew recommends buying leather shoes where possible. “Leather allows the feet to breathe and move inside the shoes, and even though leather shoes can be more expensive, they do last longer,” he says.

 “Be aware that many trainers and shoes are plastic-coated. They make the feet sweat, which means they become damp, and this can cause athlete’s foot.”

It’s also worth breaking new shoes in – get your child to walk around the house in them for a couple of hours for two or three days, before she wears them all day.

When do I know she needs new shoes?

You can tell that your little one has grown out of her shoes when you notice red marks on her feet or she starts tripping over more often. “Children’s feet grow all the time so I’d advise that you get them checked every two to three months – a good store won’t mind you going in just for a fitting,” says Andrew.

It is worth spending the time for the sake of her long-term growth. “70% of adults’ foot health problems come from wearing shoes that were too tight when they were children. This can result in all sorts of problems including bunions and hammer toes,” says Andrew. Plus, who needs an excuse to visit the shoe shop?

Mum’s Tip

“Different shops use different shoe size systems and there can be half-a-shoe size difference between them. So always get your child’s feet measured in each shop,” said Katie Moore, 30, from Barnstaple, mum to Jules, 15 months.

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