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Your toddler’s first shoes

Children’s feet grow very quickly when they are under 5 years old. Baby’s toes are soft so it’s important to let their bones grow straight, therefore if they wear shoes when they are not needed, they can’t straighten out and grow properly.

Your child won’t need shoes until they begin walking on their own. Each child develops differently and will reach this stage at their own pace. If you have concerns about your toddler’s walking, speak to your health visitor.

Even when your child begins walking independently, they won’t need their shoes on all the time, such as when they are walking around the house.

What shoes should I buy?

Don’t accept second-hand shoes or buy your child’s shoes online as they will need to be measured properly in a shoe shop so that their foot development isn’t affected.

Make sure the shoes are supportive and fit well, ensuring that there’s at least a 1cm gap between the end of their toes and the end of the shoes. This is so your child’s feet have room to grow without being restricted.

Shoes with adjustable velcro or buckle fastenings will fit securely and hold the heel in place. A loose shoe can cause their foot to slip forward whilst walking and damage the toes.

It’s also a good choice to buy shoes made from natural materials such as canvas or leather, and for your child to wear cotton socks underneath. These will allow the air to circulate and reduce sweating. Sweat can cause the shoes to rub and may lead to fungal infections.

How often will my child need new shoes?

Your toddler’s feet will grow quickly, so you’ll have to regularly check to see if their shoes still fit.

Until your child is around two and a half, they are likely to need new shoes every few months, so bear this in mind and check their shoes regularly.

Remember that they should always have some space between their toes and the front of the shoe, and you should continue to visit a shop to get your child’s feet measured accurately.

Useful links

NCT – When and how to select toddler shoes

NHS – Leg and foot problems in children

Page last reviewed: 22-06-2022

Next review due: 22-06-2025