Adorable early-walker shoes for babies that won't hurt their feet

by Avital Norman Nathman
Dec 27, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. ET

When it comes to Baby's first shoes, it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones to pick. With so many adorable choices out there, what should parents be looking for (beyond super-cute fashion)?

NYC podiatrist Dr. Suzanne Fuchs explains that when it comes to little baby feet, barefoot is actually best for your early walker! But when you leave the house and aren't so keen on letting Baby walk around a public area with their sensitive soles, there are some rules of thumb for those first walker shoes. 

When it comes to keeping those tootsies warm and protected, soft, flexible and wide shoes are best, because they help feet to develop naturally, Fuchs says. 

"When kids' feet are put into stiff, narrow and confining shoewear, this can lead to feet conforming to the shape of shoes and becoming deformed — think bunions, hammertoes, curled toes and pigeon-toe gait," she explains. "If you think your child might have a foot condition, take them to a qualified podiatrist for assessment. Don't assume that certain shoes are better without seeing a professional."

Fellow NYC podiatrist Dr. Rebecca Pruthi offers a few key tips for picking out shoes:

  1. Don't buy shoes too early. Wait until after Baby starts to walk (10-18 months).
  2. Get a shoe that fits. The shoe should fit, shape and mold to a child's movement.
  3. Try on shoes with socks and at the end of the day, when your child's foot is most swollen.
  4. Babies are naturally flat-footed, so avoid arch- and ankle-support shoes like hightops.
  5. Replace shoes frequently, when your child first shows signs of outgrowing.  

Looking for some good picks for your first pair? Here are some that meet the criteria! 

1 /8: Soft Star shoes

1/8 :Soft Star shoes

Soft Star likes to say that their shoes are made by elves to keep kid (and adult!) feet healthy. The flexible soles are perfect for growing feet and the range of styles and colors will satisfy every family member.

Where: Soft Star

Cost: $34-$100

2 /8: Pediped shoes

2/8 :Pediped shoes

Pediped sells shoes for little feet of all sizes, from 0-6 years old. All of their shoes have the needed flexibility for growing feet, and come in an array of styles and colors for even the most picky of kids (and parents!). And, they're Dr. Fuchs-approved!

Where: Pediped

Cost: $20-$45

3 /8: Robeez

3/8 :Robeez

Robeez, a favorite of Dr. Pruthi, hit all the marks when it comes to keeping feet happy and healthy. It doesn't hurt that their wide range of styles keeps feet cute as well! From slippers and rain boots to moccasins and sandals, Robeez will keep your kids' feet comfy throughout the year.

Where: Robeez

Cost: $18-$30

4 /8: See Kai Run

4/8 :See Kai Run

See Kai Run offers a variety of shoes for babies to young children. With boots, slippers, sandals and slip-ons, their eye-catching colors and designs will make any kid happy! 

Where: See Kai Run

Cost: $30-$75

5 /8: Stride Rite

5/8 :Stride Rite

Stride Rite shoes are an institution, going back to 1919. With every style and color you could imagine, Stride Rite makes a perfect stop for first shoes. 

Where: Stride Rite

Cost: $35-80

6 /8: Jellyfeet

6/8 :Jellyfeet

Dr. Fuchs loves the new product line Jellyfeet, especially for kids that enjoy playing in the house, gym, pool, or after soccer and just need a covering to prevent bacteria or fungus. Use the promo DRFUCHS and receive $5 off your order!

Where: Jellyfeet

Cost: $28

7 /8: PLAE shoes

7/8 :PLAE shoes

PLAE engineers its products to follow the natural contour of a child's foot, leaving the cartilage and fledgling bone room to grow their own way.

Where: PLAE shoes

Cost: $49-$89

8/8 :Shoe guide for babies

What shoes to buy (and when) for your little baby.