Tiny shoes may be adorable, but serve no purpose when your baby can't yet walk. While her delicate feet need protection from cold, most experts agree that a baby doesn't need shoes until she takes her first steps, which typically happens between the ages of about 8 and 18 months. Once you start buying shoes, expect her to grow out of them every two or three months.
When to Start
When she's indoors and walking on smooth surfaces, your baby does not need shoes. In fact, the American Podiatric Medical Association recommends keeping a baby's feet unrestricted by shoes or booties whenever possible because these items can negatively affect normal foot development.
Until she takes her first steps, take her outdoors in booties and footed clothing. You can also tuck blankets around her legs and feet while she sits in her car seat. Even once she starts walking, your baby doesn't need to wear shoes indoors. You may put her in crib shoes or crawling shoes -- both soft, flexible bootie-style shoes -- to keep her toes toasty, but these shoes don't offer any support, nor do her feet need them. Put a walking baby in shoes before taking her outdoors or if she's going to toddle around in any indoor area with a rough surface.
How to Size
Measure your baby's feet at the end of the day, when they're at their largest. Measure both feet and, if one foot is larger than the other, buy shoes to fit the larger foot. A professional at a shoe store can measure your baby's feet, or you can do it at home using a printed shoe sizing chart. Place the chart on the floor and hold your baby in a standing position over it, pressing her feet onto the chart. Use a chart that measures both length and width, as your baby may require wide-width shoes.
When purchasing walking shoes for your on-the-move infant, look for pairs made of lightweight, natural materials with flexible, nonskid soles. Shoes with high tops or laces will stay on your baby's feet better than slip-ons will. Her heels shouldn't slip out the shoes while walking, and her feet shouldn't be red or irritated after wearing them. When you first put her in a new pair, you should feel a little space when pressing your finger against the toe box.
Embrace hand-me-down onesies but not hand-me-down shoes. Used shoes carry bacteria and won't properly mold to your baby's feet. It is best to purchase new shoes or booties for your baby as she grows.