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There’s just something so magical about tiny baby shoes! Even if you think they’re not practical, when you see them in a store, they’re pretty hard to resist.

If you’re in the market for a pair of baby shoes, you may be wondering how to choose the perfect pair (besides just their general adorableness). We’ve got you covered with all the information you need to make the right decision, as well as links to some of our favorites.

You may be wondering if babies need to wear shoes, and the answer is: not if they aren’t walking yet.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), it’s actually best for babies to go barefoot so their feet have room to move, stretch, and breathe.

Once your baby starts walking (!!!), you’ll want to have a pair of shoes available to protect their feet from getting hurt by the rough ground outside. However, before they’re strolling around, socks and booties may be a better fit.

As mentioned, once your baby is walking, they should probably have at least one pair of shoes for exploring the outside world.

Toddlers who love to climb and play outside are definitely suited for shoes — although they’ll grow out of them quickly, so it’s best not to break the bank buying a closet full of toddler kicks.

If your baby is crawling or still in arms, they can certainly wear shoes, but it’s not typically necessary or beneficial.

When considering whether a pair of shoes will be perfect for your infant’s feet, you should consider:

  • Soles. The best type of baby shoe has flexible nonslip soles. This will allow your baby’s feet to stretch and move more freely, while also keeping them protected from spills if they do start testing out their walking skills.
  • Padding. Padding around the back of the heels and the ankles can help prevent rubbing or blisters. While it’s important to have a flexible sole (see above for why), a little extra padding can help make shoes more comfortable.
  • Closures. You’ll want a pair that’s easy to get on and off and secure. We totally get it, laces look amazing — but Velcro and zippers are typically a lot faster to close quickly with a wiggly baby on your lap.
  • Size. Always be sure to consult the manufacturer’s size guide before buying as they’re not always the same. Your child’s feet will likely be growing a lot during their first year of life, so check to make sure your baby hasn’t outgrown their first pair.
  • Fully covered. Shoes that fully cover feet offer a greater degree of protection from splinters, stubbed toes, and other injuries. While there’s certainly a time and place for sandals, you might not want to always have your little one in them.

When picking the best baby shoes, we gave a lot of thought to the things that matter most:

  • comfort
  • warmth
  • traction
  • ease of getting on and off
  • sizing option
  • price point

We also took into account what other parents had to say about the shoes.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15–$30
  • $$$ = $31–$50
  • $$$$ = over $50

Best infant shoes

Hudson Baby Fleece Bootie

  • Price: $
  • Pros: include grips on the bottom for stability, machine washable, fleece keeps feet warm
  • Cons: not waterproof, won’t protect feet on tougher surfaces

Our favorite infant shoe is actually a bootie! Not only do these snap on easily (and stay put), but they have grips on the bottom to ensure that your little one has sufficient traction for scooting around. They’re made of fuzzy fleece that will help keep their feet warm, and they come in a handful of colors to match any outfit.

Because Hudson Baby booties are machine-washable, no matter what baby manages to stick their foot in, the clean-up should be easy. And while these aren’t waterproof and won’t protect your baby’s feet from rougher ground, their feet will likely be bigger and ready for a more substantial pair of shoes by the time they need protection.

Best baby shoes for crawlers

Freshly Picked City Mocc

  • Price: $$$$
  • Pros: rough sole offers traction, elastic opening helps keep them on baby’s feet, lots of color/pattern options available
  • Cons: not the most budget-friendly option; some parents say they struggled to get little feet in them

While definitely a splurge, these moccasins from Freshly Picked are a fan favorite. Designed with a barefoot feel in mind, they’re made of soft leather and suede with a rough sole for traction.

Parents say these are a great fit for babes just starting to crawl as they’re extremely durable. However, some parents note that while these shoes stay on well, they can be a struggle to get on baby’s foot.

Best shoes for babies learning to walk

Stride Rite Soft Motion Jamie Sneaker

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: three width options, rounded nonslip soles, memory foam insoles to prevent skin rubs
  • Cons: not as close to walking barefoot as other shoes, some reviewers say the shoes ran small

Parents tend to be huge fans of Stride Rite shoes due to their range of sizes (including three different width options!) and the comfort of knowing that they have a seal of acceptance from the APMA.

The soles of these shoes are nonslip and rounded to decrease the likelihood of slips and falls. They also have memory foam insoles to help prevent skin rubs. While not as close to being barefoot as some shoes on the market, they check off a lot of the key safety and comfort criteria.

Best baby shoes for winter

Ugg Bixbee

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: machine-washable, textured bottom for traction, fabric keeps feet warm
  • Cons: not waterproof, won’t protect feet on rough ground

Chances are your baby just needs something to keep their feet warm during the winter months. These Ugg booties will take care of that with their furry, machine-washable fabric.

The fabric soles are great for foot flexibility, and they’re designed with texture on the bottom for traction should your little one want to pull up or test out walking. Note, however, that these booties definitely aren’t waterproof — any attempted standing or walking should probably be done indoors.

Best baby shoes for special occasions

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top Shoe

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: lots of color and design options, full range of sizes (up to adult!), Velcro straps allow for easy on and off
  • Cons: rigid bottoms aren’t great for developing feet, not the cheapest option (especially for only special occasion wear)

There’s just nothing cuter than a tiny pair of Converse! Not only can these sneakers go with all types of outfits, but they mimic the adult style, which means that you and baby can match should you choose (no judgement — we love it!).

Some features of these shoes aren’t ideal for tiny developing feet (rigid soles, especially), so they should only really be worn for a brief period of time. However, with the option of Velcro straps and plenty of adorable colors and patterns, they’re great for playing dress up for a bit.

Best budget-friendly baby shoes

Meckior Infant Shoe

  • Price: $
  • Pros: budget-friendly price, available in a variety of colors/patterns, stay on feet well
  • Cons: don’t last as long as some other shoes, best for special occasions instead of walking

Fans of Vans slide-on sneakers will love Meckior’s slip-on infant shoes. Not only are they a steal at their low price point, but they come in a bunch of adorable colors and patterns to match any outfit.

Parents say these are great for dressing up and that they stay on babies’ feet well — however, a few folks mention that they don’t last all that long, so they’re better for the occasional event as opposed to crawling or walking.

Best baby shoes for wide feet

See Kai Run Stevie First Walker Sneakers

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: roomy toe box for wide feet, seal of acceptance from the APMA, tough enough sole to protect feet during outside play
  • Cons: not the most budget-friendly option, don’t offer a barefoot feeling

These shoes work well for walkers as they offer a great amount of protection and padding. Plus, like Stride Rite’s shoes, you can feel confident that these have a seal of acceptance from the APMA.

See Kai Run Stevie sneakers stand out from the pack for babies with wide feet because of their roomy toe box. They also offer the ability to remove and add inserts, which can make a big difference for comfortably fitting a wider foot inside a shoe.

When choosing shoes for your little one, you’ll first want to consider whether they’re walking yet.

Pre-walking

Before your baby is walking, shoes are mostly just a fashion statement (and possibly a way to keep toes warm on really cold days). You’ll want to look for:

  • soft sole shoes that allow your little one to feel like they are barefoot
  • traction to help keep your little one from slipping as they practice standing up, etc.

While a baby is cruising and crawling, bare feet or a pair of cute grippy socks are more than sufficient, so there’s no need to spend a ton on an elaborate shoe collection. You’ll really only need a pair or two for special occasions.

Walking

Once your little one is walking, you’ll want to prioritize comfort and fit. The best shoes for new walkers are:

  • flexible.
  • soft-soled. However, if you’re letting your baby roam outside, you’ll want something firm enough to protect their feet.
  • skid-proof. New walkers are prone to stumbles, so you’ll want to make sure the shoe has sufficient traction to help avoid slips.

Since life can be messy for toddlers, shoes that are machine-washable are worth an extra look. Little feet grow quickly, so you’ll also want to consider the price tag knowing a pair of shoes may not fit for long.

How do I keep my baby’s shoes on their feet?

Babies are more likely to keep their shoes on if they fit right. Make sure that the shoes don’t pinch and there’s enough room for their feet to breathe. Shoes with thick soles that add weight can also bother your little one, making them more likely to be pulled off, so you might want to consider more lightweight styles.

How do I measure my baby’s feet for their size?

First, you’ll want to extend your baby’s foot and lay it flat, making sure that the toes are not curling under. Then, you’ll measure from the back of the heel to the front of the longest toe. You should do this for both feet, and use the longer of the measurements when choosing a shoe. (It’s ok if their two feet measure differently. That’s typical!)

How do baby shoe sizes work?

Unlike adult shoe sizes, baby shoe sizes don’t come sized by gender. Instead, they’re sized by foot length. (Check out the answer above if you’d like more information on getting this measurement.)

While some brands use age for shoe sizes, you should always check the number of inches of the shoe itself, since children grow differently and there can be a wide range in shoe sizes for any given age.

How should I store my baby’s shoes?

Baby shoes are smaller than adult ones and easier to lose! You’ll want to keep them in the same spot between uses so you know where to look for them.

Because baby shoes aren’t worn all the time, you might choose to store them in your little one’s closet or dresser. If your little one has a large shoe collection or you have limited space, you may want to consider a hanging shoe organizer that can be hung in the closet or over a door.

How do I clean my baby’s shoes?

Check the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning instructions. Some baby shoes are made of machine-washable fabrics and can be cleaned in the washing machine. Others will require scrubbing with an old toothbrush or damp cloth.

They may not fit for very long and shouldn’t be worn often, but your family portraits might look just a little cuter with some shoes on your baby’s feet!

If you do choose to put shoes on your baby for special occasions, make sure that they have flexible nonslip soles, are well-padded, will stay closed, and are the right size.

Also, don’t worry if your baby doesn’t have a million excuses to show off their shoe collection just yet! Once they start walking, there will be plenty of opportunities to wear them while they explore the outside world.