“I have an eleven month old son who is healthy and growing in the 90th percentile. He is almost walking and we would like to introduce him to shoes. However, we have no idea how to begin. Could you guide us as to what to look for in infant shoes or what is considered good, supportive, and healthy for growing feet? Thank you for you time and assistance.”
The sole: As a general guide, the earlier the stage of walking, the thinner and more flexible the sole should be. Before buying a shoe, bend it in your hand to test its flexibility. Then watch your baby walk. The shoe should bend at the ball of the foot as your baby takes each step. Whether to get rubber soles or leather soles is a mater of which is most flexible. The rubber soles on some sneakers are thicker and stiffer than leather soles. Also, rubber soles tend to be more rounded, whereas the flatter leather soles tend to provide more stability. Remember: avoid stiff soles for young feet.
Construction: Stick with natural materials – leather or canvas – that breathe, letting air get to baby’s perspiring feet. Avoid synthetics like vinyl, which don’t breathe.
Fit: This is the most important part of selecting a shoe. A qualified shoe fitter will measure both feet while baby is standing, looking for flexibility at the ball of the foot while baby walks, and checks for toe room and heel slippage. Don’t forget to let baby take a “test-walk”.