From the crawling stage to running full tilt in what seems like no time at all, parents encounter the toddling stage when a child begins to learn to walk. At first, the beginning stage of learning to walk may seem slow because the child must first develop the bone strength and muscles to support the body in an upright position. But once the little one has mastered standing and balancing on two legs, the time from “baby steps” to zooming around will pass quickly. A parent’s goal during this stage is to provide encouragement, support and safety, and that includes choosing the proper footwear. While style might catch the eye, the fit, form, and function are what a parent needs to focus on when buying proper toddler shoes.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Footwear

Selecting the right footwear for your toddler is vital for their gait development and stability. As a new walker, they need shoes with nonskid soles to prevent slipping and ensure their safety. The right shoes also provide support and comfort, allowing your toddler to move confidently and independently.

Footwear Features to Consider

A well-designed shoe with proper arch support and a flexible sole can help promote a natural and healthy walking pattern. Shoes that are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) can give you peace of mind knowing that they have been tested and proven to support proper foot development.

Durability and breathability are also essential factors to consider. Toddlers are constantly on the move, so shoes made with high-quality materials can be cleaned and washed regularly. Breathable materials help keep little feet cool and comfortable. Canvas, cloth, or leather are porous and allow air to circulate in and out.

Additionally, a cushioned insole and adequate arch support are important for promoting proper foot development while a roomy toe box allows for proper growth and prevents discomfort.

Another important feature is the type of closure. Velcro straps or elastic laces are great options for toddlers who are still learning to put on their own shoes. These closures make it easier for them to take their shoes on and off independently.

Finally, consider the weight of the shoe. Toddlers need lightweight shoes that won't weigh them down or restrict their movement. Shoes made with lightweight materials are great options.

A Comprehensive Guide on Fitting Shoes for Wide or Narrow Feet

For wide feet, look for shoes with a wider toe box and adjustable closures, like Velcro straps, that can accommodate a wider foot width. Avoid shoes with narrow or pointed toe boxes, as they can cause discomfort. On the other hand, for narrow feet, look for shoes with adjustable closures that can help create a snug fit. Shoes with extra padding or inserts can also provide added support for narrow feet. When fitting shoes for wide or narrow feet, it's best to try them on and ensure that there is enough room for the toes to wiggle without being too loose or too tight.

For an 11-step guide to buying toddler shoes, read more here!

The Role of Regular Pediatrician Check-ups in Foot Health

Regular pediatrician check-ups play a fundamental role in ensuring a toddler’s foot health. During these visits, pediatricians can assess the child's foot development, provide expert advice on choosing the right footwear, and address any concerns or issues. They can also make a referral to a podiatrist should any developmental problems arise that need a specialist’s attention.