We know that when your little one is ready for their first shoes it is so important to get it right and ensure the best possible start for their feet. The human foot is amazing with a complex bone structure that doesn’t fully develop until children reach adulthood. It is therefore vital for future health that little feet have lots of freedom to move and grow naturally.
There are 26 bones, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments plus an array of delicate blood vessels, nerves and tissue fibres all working together to control the movement of each foot. Bones start out as cartilage and it isn’t until the child reaches about 18 years old that all of the constituent parts of the foot are fully developed. So it is important, especially in the first few years of walking, but ideally until 18, that the child’s foot is not subjected to ill fitting, rigid or inappropriate shoes.
At 6 months the foot is almost entirely made up of cartilage and is highly susceptible to deformity as a result of ill-fitting footwear. Even at the age of 2 the bone structure is still very much developing with large gaps between the developing bone structure. By 8 years old the main bones have formed but will still take many more years to fully fuse together. At any point in this process ill-fitting shoes can have lasting effects on the foot.
Happy Little Soles is here to support you in finding the most suitable first shoes for your little one. We recommend waiting as long as possible before getting the first shoes and then using the softest and most flexible shoes you can get away with. We focus on shoes which are barefoot and barefoot friendly with all of our styles are carefully chosen to be as close to barefoot as possible. We stock brands which allow your little one’s feet to stay healthy whilst being protected from the elements. From boots to sandals and for narrow to wide feet, there is something for everyone.
Some of favourite first footwear options for new walkers are as follows;
Stonz booties are a great transition option as children start to take their first steps. They are designed with a wide opening to slip on easily over bare feet, socks, slippers, shoes or Stonz Linerz. They have an outer sole made of rubber, a durable coated nylon outer and a warm fleece lining that is water & wind resistant to keep little feet warm and dry in all weathers. Two toggles at the calf and ankle allow you to customize the fit and ensure the booties stay firmly in place. They are perfect for baby wearing in slings and baby carriers, as you can layer up for extra warmth. The Stonz are also ideal for cruisers and new walkers with the non-slip sole and lightweight, soft-soled design of the booties allowing your child to walk freely and take their first steps outside without any restrictions or hindrance to their feet. They are totally unstructured and so are a great option to use until your child is walking confidently.
2) Bobux Xplorers
Bobux Xplorers are also designed to bridge the gap between crawling and walking. They have been specially designed for cruisers and pre-walkers as they start to take their first steps but are also perfect for new walkers and those still needing or preferring a softer shoe. Designed for indoor and outdoor use they are super soft, lightweight and ultra-flexible and allow little feet to develop without restriction and to move freely.
They feature super soft fully enclosed uppers in a range for colours and designs and have one of the most flexible soles we stock which is also super light and soft. They have a durable anti-scuff toe cap which is made with abrasion resistant fibre to prolong the wear of the shoes. They fit a good range of foot types and shapes as they have a great soft elasticated ankle which opens up really wide and makes them easy to get on. They have a little Velcro tab to help adjust the fit and keep them securely in place.
We have a wide range of styles in the Xplorer range at Happy Little Soles. Why not take a look. Maybe you are looking for something vibrant and modern, then the Xplorer Origin would be what you are looking for. With their bright, bold colours your little one will love showing off their new shoes. Or maybe you are looking for something a little different, then the Xplorer Spekkel or Habitat would both be suitable options. With added detail, from tropical palm prints to dotty designs, there’s a style to go with every outfit.
3) Pediped Originals
Pediped Originals are another great brand for first shoes. They have been officially recognised by the American Podiatric Medical Association which makes them a brilliant choice for being beneficial for children’s growing feet. Pediped Originals were also awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for promoting healthy foot development.
This collection from Pediped is created to closely mimic barefoot walking so that your little one does not feel like they are even wearing shoes. Transitioning into shoes can feel strange because as babies they have spent so long without anything on their feet that when adding a shoe makes it feel somehow alien. This is why Pediped have made them to be so comfortable with a soft foam insert between the high quality leather layers. They feature a leather sole which is ultra-soft and has a diamond shaped tread for slip resistance.
This thin sole allows feet to move, grip and feel the floor allowing them to develop and grow, building strength and muscle tone through the grasping action of their toes. The shoes are designed around the actual shape of a child’s foot and are incredibly soft and comfy to wear. More durable and weatherproof than the suede soles of the usual crawler shoes these shoes are great for a first venture into the world.
Happy Little Soles stock a great range from the Pediped Originals collection. For a little girl’s summer sandal, why not take a look at the pretty Daphne style or the flowery Daisy. Or how about the Jake and Dani styles for your little boy, perfect to team with any outfit.
4) Baby Bogs
If you are just looking for first footwear to cover you for trips to the park and occasional outside use then Bogs are a great option to consider. Based in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, Bogs are experts at making weatherproof footwear. They have over forty years of experience at keeping feet warm and dry in their unforgiving environment.
Baby Bogs are specially designed for the little ones with a super lightweight and flexible sole and a warm cosy lining to keep toes warm and dry all day long. In fact, they are temperature rated down to -10C so perfect for the cold and wet. Machine washable and breathable they are a great alternative to wellies and available in sizes US4 (UK3) up to a US10 (UK9).
Best of all the Bogs come in lots of colourful, fun and vibrant designs, from Dinos to Planes and to Monsters to Space we are sure there is a design there your little one (and you) will love.
The Froddo pre-walker range is another great first shoe option with a lovely flexible rubber sole suitable for indoor and light outdoor use Hailing from sunny Croatia Froddo is a small company with an individual approach to shoe design. They are made from Chrome Free super soft leathers which are tanned using vegetable tanning methods to give a lovely eco-friendly shoe.
6) Livie and Luca
Livie and Luca shoes are fun, colourful, funky and so soft and comfy! The First Walker collection is a new addition to the first shoe range here at Happy Little Soles and designed by Livie and Luca specifically for new walkers. It features a thin, flexible, minimalist sole and is available in a lovely range of quirky designs. A narrower fit than other Livie and Luca soles it does however fit narrow and medium width feet really well. Our favourite design in this range is the lovely little Frog, a fun shoe what will have your toddler leaping for joy! Froggie is a limited-edition critter shoe with multi-tone soft leathers and cute detailing. Whimsical and practical, Froggie will help your new walker to step into the big wide world. If you fancy a prettier shoe then how about the Lily?. With delicate flower perforations and sweet scallops, Lily is a lovely first shoe that can be dressed up or down.
Looking for something a little more suited to wider feet, then Tikki is worth taking a look at. Tikki are a fun colourful range of shoes handmade by a lovely family company from Romania. Their shoes and sandals are some of the softest, lightest and most flexible that we sell. Soles are zero drop and range from a 2mm – 4mm in thickness. They are comfortable and attractive and also safe for delicate skin as they use only the best quality Chrome Free leather linings. A wider fit and toe box with a good depth to the shoes, the designs also seem to enable a great fit for a variety of foot types with a good Velcro adjustment around the ankle to suit narrower ankles. How about letting your little one reach for the stars with the Starlit Sky sandal or show off their wise side with the Happy Owl.
8) Poco Nido Mighty Shoes
The Poco Nido Might shoes are a range of quirky and fun shoes inspired by colour, texture and a love of children’s stories. They are lovely rubber soled leather shoes designed with barefoot principles to be beautifully foot shaped, with a thin and flexible TPU rubber sole suitable for outdoor adventures. They are made from a super soft and chrome fee leather and available in a range of styles that allow adjustment for a great fit. Ideal for your first shoe and etched in a variety of unusual prints such as the nautical themed blue shoes or our favourite, the circus themed red prints.
9) Kyrian and Kayson
Kyiran and Kayson shoes were created with autistic children in mind and to provide super soft and wide opening footwear for ease of use and comfort. The shoes open wide allowing you to see the insole and your child’s foot placement in the shoe. They have a soft insole, for comfort and are ideal for children with deeper feet and who scrunch their toes up on putting shoes on. They have a super soft cosy lining designed for sensitive little feet with nothing to irritate or rub inside.
We have a special section on our website dedicated to the best first shoes so have a look at all of options.