Baby’s First Shoes as Important As First Steps

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Sponsored - The number of milestones for babies during their first year can make a parents head spin. From holding up her own head, to sitting, crawling and then taking those brave first steps, your baby becomes a toddler in what seems like a blink of an eye. If you have a cruiser on your hands, it’s time to get the best shoes for your little one’s feet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends shoes that are lightweight and flexible, and with soles that provide traction and prevent slipping. But getting the fit is equally important. Jamie LaVelle, manages Morgan’s Stride Rite at Hilldale in Madison, where she’s an expert at getting a proper fit for baby’s first walking shoes.

“Generally when they’re about a year old they’ll be cruising around furniture or walking unassisted and independently that’s a good time to come in,” LaVelle said. “If they’re cruising and excited about it that’s the best time to come in.”

The AAP recommends that babies learn to walk barefoot while they’re at home. They use their toes to grip the floor, so shoes aren’t necessary there. But for rough, sharp, uneven or hot and cold surfaces shoes are important.

“It’s recommended that babies learn to walk more barefoot and natural versus decades ago when they recommended the harder shoes, so a shoe that mimics being barefoot,” LaVelle said. “Something that’s really flexible and natural feeling is what they want them in now.”

The technology in baby shoes has advanced as we’ve learned more about how babies take their first steps and what supports that growth and what hinders it.

“The old shoes would be tied up and would keep their ankle in place, they don’t want any more of that,” LaVelle said.

Beyond the design of the shoe, the fit is equally important and for parents, how their baby shoes fit may not be the best practice these days. “It’s really important to have them fit when they’re starting to walk because their bones are still really soft, so you want something that’s not super restrictive and that allows them to grow in them and won’t cause foot issues in the future, that’s what we want to avoid,” LaVelle explained. “There is a lot of baby fluff, or baby fat, so you want room for them to spread out because they grow really fast. They actually grow about a half size every two to three months. So, a little growing space is good and we can help with that and make sure they have growing space, and the width is right and they’re just good to go.”

Having a shoe expert help takes the guesswork out of the process for parents. “We’re all trained here for several months before we start fittings so I think that helps and we are familiar with the shoes, we try them on with lots of kids and we know how the widths fit,” LaVelle said. Plus, going into the shoe store for a first pair of shoes is a milestone that’s photo worthy for many parents and a moment that Morgan’s Stride Rite likes to honor right alongside the family. “Yes, we have some pictures up on our walls so it’s a fun experience,” LaVelle said. “You can come by and meet our fitting experts at the Hilldale Mall or checkout our website first at”