When is the right time to buy your baby’s first shoes.  Your child’s feet have got to last – she’ll walk more than 70,000 miles in her lifetime, so it makes sense to look after them properly from day one.

Follow our simple steps and your baby will have healthy, happy feet…

How their feet develop

Your child’s feet are not a smaller version of your own as they differ in important ways that make them more vulnerable to early damage. At birth, a baby has fewer bones than an adult’s and it takes an amazing 18 years before the cartilage in the feet fully ‘ossify’ or harden into the 26 bones that make up an adult foot.

This means your child’s feet are soft and vulnerable and need to be carefully looked after. Having your children’s shoes fitted properly is probably one of the most important things you can do for them because, unlike teeth, you don’t get a second chance if you damage them early on.

Foot care – the dos and don’ts


  • Stimulate your baby’s muscles by tickling her toes, feet and legs, and let her kick around a lot
  • Bathe her feet daily in warm, soapy water and dry in between the toes carefully
  • Let her go barefoot whenever possible
  • Keep nails trimmed straight across and not too short
  • Inspect feet regularly for any signs of damage or infection


  • Use sleepsuits, socks, tights, padders or bootees which restrict her toes and feet
  • Use tight bedclothes which restrict her movement
  • Put your baby in shoes as soon as she takes her first steps
  • Buy synthetic socks and tights as they stop the skin on the feet breathing properly.

When to buy first shoes

Babies start to stand unaided any time from around 10-11 months but they still need to feel contact with the ground and spread their toes in order to balance, so don’t go and buy the first pair of shoes you see.

Don’t feel rushed into buying shoes as your toddler only needs them when her feet need protection against the environment, when the environment is safe, going barefoot is good because she can feel the floor better.

When choosing first shoes, it’s important to have a proper fitting to get the right size (which start at three for babies and toddlers) and width fitting (D-H, with F and G being the most common) for your child’s feet.

Only around a third of children are the standard fitting and having a wrongly fitted shoe can slow down the process of learning to walk.

To get a proper fit, go to a trained shoe fitter so that your child gets the right length, width and type of shoe for her stage of development.

What happens at the fitting?

Apart from measuring each foot (in a sock) to get the length and width fittings, the fitter will try on several different shoes and check that there’s space for the toes to move and grow; the heel fits well and doesn’t rub or slip; the width and fastenings provide a snug fit; and your child can walk well in the shoes.

Once your child has been fitted properly, don’t forget to go back for a quick check every six to eight weeks as children can grow two shoe sizes or more a year at this early stage of their development.

What sort of shoes should I buy?

Apart from a good fit, you’re looking for the shoe to be made from a breathable material, such as leather (inside and out), an effective fastening and a close-edged sole to avoid tripping

There are lots of styles available, including lightweight, machine-washable sandals and even trainers made specifically for children that come in the various width and half size fittings.

Never be tempted to hand down shoes from one child to the next or to buy shoes second-hand as they simply won’t fit properly.

Fun foot facts

  • A baby who has just learned to walk takes around 176 steps a minute
  • Children’s feet often grow faster in the spring and summer
  • Your child’s feet can sweat up to half a pint of perspiration a day
  • Children’s feet tend to grow rapidly – around two sizes a year – in the first four years
  • Children take even more steps than adults each day – and that’s more than 18,000!
  • Learn all about your baby’s feet and get information from www.ortho-pedclinic.com
  • Check Feet for life for foot health advice and information on finding a chiropodist or podiatrist