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first walker shoe guide

Promoting healthy habits begins in infancy. One of the most vital ways to support your little one’s journey is to protect their feet. Investing in the best-fitting walking shoes can make all the difference as your baby discovers the world and embarks on early adventures that set the stage for a happy and productive childhood.

what is good foot health?

Despite their tiny size, baby feet are strong and complex, consisting of 26 bones, 35 joints, ligaments and fatty padding. The best-fitting baby walking shoes promote healthy feet and protect them from injury. Even if your baby hasn't reached the walking stage quite yet, it’s imperative to take measures to safeguard their feet early on, so they’re ready for an active lifestyle once they reach the toddler years.

pre-walking shoes vs. walking shoes: what’s the difference?

There are significant differences between shoes for the baby stage, pre-walker shoes, and walking shoes. As you're shopping for the perfect fit, you'll come across both pre-walking shoes and soft sole walking shoes. Since the two styles vary in functionality, features and construction, it’s crucial to understand the key differences that set them apart.

early stage baby shoes

In most cases, footwear for young babies simply protects their feet while providing breathability and fashionable style. Baby’s arch and achilles’ heel aren’t quite defined at this stage, so shoes offer more style than function.

the Stride Rite stroller bootie

Our Fall 2019 collection brings you the Cozy Carmen stroller bootie for babies who aren't ready to walk yet, but still go out and about with their parents toting them in strollers. This bootie is offered in multiple cozy materials with a warm Sherpa or faux fur lining. In addition to the ultra-warm lining, the Cozy Carmen style, available in little kids' sizes 1 to 4, features wide openings and wide straps to make the shoes easy to adjust and wear.

pre-walking shoes

Pre-walking shoes help your baby get started on the right foot when they show interest in mobility. Because the nerve endings and soft cartilage are still in the developmental stage at this point, baby feet shouldn’t be contained to the point where they may mold improperly. This is why lightweight and flexible baby shoes are so important! The right pre-walker shoe should provide support without restricting your little one’s normal, everyday movements.

Stride Rite pre-walker styles - coming soon

Explore our two true pre-walker styles, SR Campbell and SR Mira. These lightweight baby boot-style shoes feature a gel-like outsole that has durable yet flexible compound for premium traction. With our signature rounded edges and the outsole covering their little toes, your baby gets the protection they need to crawl the distance.

SR Campbell

Get the warm and cozy high-top bootie with memory foam and an antimicrobial treatment built into the sock lining. With features similar to those of our soft motion technology, our pre-walker styles are offered in smaller sizes with a wider, generous fit. Find suede shoes with plaid detailing for boys and sparkles and bows for girls. All come with an adjustable hook and loop closure for easy on and off.

SR Mira

Our SR Mira offers the same great features with the gel prewalker sole in a dainty mary jane style. Get the classic black patent leather option or silver shoes with glitter-infused outsoles. Both styles come with floral embroidery for a sweet finishing touch.

first walking shoes

First walking shoes are designed with heightened support and functionality in mind. At this point in their lives, babies are ready to try balancing on two legs and experiment with their newfound ability to put one foot in front of the other. They’re still trying to figure out the world around them and being close to the ground helps their sensory development. That’s why first steps require a shoe that promotes stability and provides extensive all-over support for the foot.

what makes first walking shoes stand out?

Walking shoes are noteworthy because they’re with your child through a life-changing milestone. No longer is baby limited to crawling on all fours. Suddenly, your little one is gripping onto the furniture or holding your hands to maintain balance while learning how to walk properly. It’s a major first step that builds stability and establishes balance – the two most important traits required for walking.

what are the special features of Soft Motion baby walking shoes?

Stride Rite Soft Motion shoes are designed specifically for those first steps that send your little one on their way to a lifetime of adventures on foot. Soft Motion is our baby shoe construction that is most emulated by the footwear industry, but never truly replicated. Our patented technology focuses on the multi-directional grooves that makes the outsole super flexible and provides all-rounded edges from the inside out that mimic a baby’s feet. Discover the key features that create a healthy environment for baby and toddler feet:

slip-resistant soles

Slip-resistant soles provide the perfect foundation for your child’s first steps. As they grow from tentative to confident walkers, the protective, flexible and lightweight non-skid outsoles support their newfound movements. This level of slip-resistance ensures safety with every step.

easy-on designs

Easy-on designs make it simple for your little one’s feet to slip right into the shoes. There’s no need to struggle with finicky elements that simply get in the way and constrict their ability to move. Openings are wide and adjustable to ensure the best possible fit.

memory foam

Memory foam provides your little one with the comfort needed to enjoy those first steps. The lightweight material gently cushions the foot to encourage frequent, natural movements without throwing off your child’s coordination.

flexibility

Flexible shoes promote proper arch development and support as the foot grows during these formative years. Light and airy by nature, flexible materials let your child focus on learning how to walk without lifting heavy shoes with every step they take.

seamless construction

Our designs and construction use minimal seams to make shoes that cradle the baby’s foot. We add antimicrobial properties in the shoe lining to accommodate the fact that babies’ feet sweat way more than adult feet.

premium materials

The majority of our Soft Motion shoes feature leather uppers to maximize durability without sacrificing breathability and comfort.

how do baby walking shoes help with development?

Supportive shoes are essential to help babies master simple steps and more complex movements. During these crucial times, children develop extensive skills that will carry them through life:

coordination

Coordination begins with the right first walker shoes. The perfect pair isn’t too loose or too tight and doesn’t feature any distracting elements that might hinder successful basic movements, such as standing up and stepping from side to side.

strength

Strength comes into play with every single step. In those early stages, lifting the feet and moving them in such an unfamiliar fashion may seem like an enormous challenge. The simple act of placing toes on the ground begins a chain reaction that gives your child greater control. Strong hips and legs are key to the motions that propel each step. Good walking shoes for babies provide the early support needed to build those muscles.

balance

Balance is essential to walking successfully throughout life. The best first walking shoes are thoughtfully designed to support walking posture, which for babies involves positioning the feet apart with the arms held up. Little ones typically crouch a bit with these early steps, too. Balance develops gradually, with the right footwear offering the necessary support.

is your little one ready for walking shoes?

How can you tell if your little one is ready to take to the floors in walking shoes? Take your cue from any small changes that you notice at around seven months of age. At that stage, they begin reaching for furnishings and railings to support their bodies. As they grow a couple of months older, they’ll stand and shift their weight back and forth.

If your little one is still largely crawling around on all fours, opt for stroller booties and pre-walker shoes until they’re ready to start taking their first steps. As motor skills improve and your baby shows signs of increased independent movement, it’s important to find a pair of baby shoes for early walkers to provide sufficient protection.

tips for keeping shoes on

Just as adults eagerly kick off their shoes at the end of a long day because they’re feet feel uncomfortable, babies may also frequently take their shoes off. Usually, the issue is an incorrect fit. You can often detect this problem by examining their toes as you put the shoes on their feet. If they curl up, it could be an anticipatory response to an awkward fit. Always seek out footwear in the correct length and a wide toe box.

measuring baby’s feet is key to ensuring a great fit

Kids’ feet tend to grow at least half a size every two to four months, so it’s helpful to measure them at the halfway point to make any necessary sizing changes. If your child is between sizes, always size up to prevent tightness. With the right shoes on their little feet, your little one is destined for a lifetime of positive and healthy adventures! Learn how to properly fit kids’ shoes by using our new guide.

you’re ready to buy walking shoes

Once you decide that your child is ready to move from pre-walkers to walking shoes, it’s time to select the right pair. Explore stylish walking shoes for girls and boys as well as adorable footwear for all stages of babyhood and childhood at Stride Rite.

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