As your child grows, finding them the right footwear is vital to proper foot positioning during all gross motor activities. From new walkers to big kids, there are several factors to consider when buying new shoes.

New Walkers

When your child first begins walking, barefoot is best. This will allow them to build intrinsic foot musculature that will provide better stability as they become more confident in walking. This may not always be ideal though, especially when walking outside. When looking for shoes for new walkers, here are a few recommendations when shopping:

  1. Lightweight and flexible: supports natural foot movement with a stable base of support.
  2. Rubber soles: provides traction to prevent slipping or sliding.
  3. Adjustable straps: allows for adjustments as their feet change shape and become less fatty.
  4. Wide toe box: allows for toe splay as they stand, which is normal for new walkers.
  5. Toe rise: this will give a little more support and decrease the likelihood of tripping over their toes.

These are great options for new walkers:

  1. Ten Little First Walkers*:
  2. Stride Rite Sprout Sneaker*:
    1. Any of their first walker shoes are great, but these are a great basic gym shoe option:
  3. New Balance NEW-B Hook and Loop*:
  4. See Kai Run First Walkers*:

These shoe options are great until they become toddlers who are beginning to run!

Ages 2-4 Years

Many of the above characteristics are true for when your child becomes a toddler. To provide more stability, here are the recommendations for toddler shoes:

  1. Sturdy and deep heel cup to provide ankle support.
  2. Wide toe box to allow for natural toe splay.
  3. Flexible sole to allow intrinsic foot muscles to strengthen.
  4. Possibly a high top, if you notice reduced ankle stability or increased pronation (ankles tipping inward).

These are great options for toddler shoes:

  1. Ten Little Everyday Original*:
  2. Stride Rite Ian Sneaker*:
    1. Other options within the “independent walker” category:
  3. See Kai Run Toddler*:

Ages 5+

Once your child turns 5, they should have developed a proper arch and feet should start to look like adult feet. This means arch support and more stable soles can be beneficial. Here is what to look for in your child’s shoes after they turn 5:

  1. Sturdy and deep heel cup to provide ankle support.
  2. Wide toe box for natural toe splay.
  3. Arch support to provide further stability.

Here are some great gym shoe options to choose from:

  1. Stride Rite Big Kid Collection*:
  2. New Balance Big Kids Shoes*:

Special Considerations

If your child is toe walking, has significant pronation (ankles collapsing inwards), or wears orthotics, there are different options to consider. Always consult with your physical therapist to find the best shoes for your child, but here are some options for toe walkers and children who wear orthotics.

  1. Toe walkers
    1. Ikiki Squeaky Toddler Shoes:
    2. High tops of any of the above brands can help provide stability at the ankle and improve heel strike.
  2. Orthotics
    1. Be sure to go a size up from their usual size.
    2. Look for shoes with a wide or extra wide toe box.
    3. BILLY Footwear: These are great for orthotics, but in general are not recommended without use of inserts due to no arch support being provided.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s development or foot positioning, please consider a physical therapy evaluation to determine how to best support your child!

*Shoes listed are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

Want to learn more or you have a specific question? Feel free to connect with us here!

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