When Should a Toddler Start Wearing Hard-Soled Shoes?

Putting hard-soled shoes on your baby too early can actually harm her feet. It's important to recognize the signs that show that she's ready for "big kid" shoes and to make sure you're prepared for the big day as much as possible. Until then, there are plenty of ways to keep her feet feeling comfortable -- and looking stylish.

Gauging Your Child's Progress

Although it's tempting to get your child his first hard-soled shoes when he starts to stand on his own -- or even earlier -- it's important to wait until your child is walking well. That doesn't mean that you should be running to the shoe store as soon as your baby takes his first step, either. It means that he should be walking inside and outside on a semi-regular basis before his first pair of hard-soled shoes makes an appearance 2.

Why Wait?

Like so many other parenting-related decisions, earlier is not better. Hard-soled shoes are restricting, and they prevent your child's feet from developing naturally as she learns to walk. Remember that your child's bones are much softer than those of an adult, so using hard-soled shoes can cause them to develop differently than letting your child go barefoot during the learning-to-walk process. If you start getting comments from knowing friends and relatives like "What? She doesn't have any shoes yet?" rest assured that you're making the right decision for your child's future.

Before Your Child Is Ready

So what do you do before your child is walking well enough for hard-soled shoes? The ideal is to keep him barefoot as much as possible, so that he is able to easily feel the ground to help him balance. When your child is outside, however, especially in cold weather, you can put him in soft-soled shoes to protect his feet and keep them warm. If you'd like shoes just for the look of them, bootees and "pram shoes" might be what you're looking for.

Preparing for the First Fitting

Once you've decided that your child is ready for her first pair of shoes, you'll want to make sure that it will be a positive experience for her 23. Find a store with knowledgeable staff members that specialize in fitting children's shoes. The up-side is that they'll probably be used to measuring the feet of nervous toddlers as well. Plan to shop when your child is well-rested and fed, and take along some small toys, books, snacks and a drink to keep your child occupied and satiated.

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