Baby's First Shoes
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Baby's First Shoes
I am looking for advice about which shoe brand to choose for
a 14 month old. We are pretty much beyond the 'moccasin'
style shoe, and looking for sandals/sneakers that are easy
to walk in, but hopefully not super expensive, but all and
any recommendations are welcome. Walking commenced at about
13months, and now he is constantly on-the-go! yay for
I pretty much kept my kids barefoot as much as possible or
they wore Roobeez or Preschoolians when they were new
The shoes I have started all of my kids in when they were
ready for 'real' shoes has been Stride Rite's Jamie style.
It is the sort of retro boot-ish baby shoe... lace up and
high-top. I prefer laces because you can double-knot the
bow and baby can't untie them. Babies quickly become pros
at undoing velcro shoe fastenings in my experience. The
most recent pair I purchased were less than $15 including
shipping for a nearly new pair (never walked in, only worn a
couple of times) on eBay. It took one week from winning the
auction 'til they were at my door. I love these shoes
because they are flexible yet supportive, not difficult to
get on and off for the adult, and cute. mom2toddler2
When is the right time to switch to regular hard soled shoes?
My little girl is 14 months old and walking with confidence. I
took she shoe shopping this weekend and she hates wearing
shoes. She cried and would not even take a step. Is it
necessary for her to switch from the robeez to regular shoes?
I also cannot believe the prices for these shoes....$50.00 +++
is this really necessary? I would like to know what other moms
purchased for their children's first shoes.
Both my children walked by 11 months, but I stuck with the
Robeez until 18+ months. They are so flexible and soft. The
longer they could stay like this the better for their feet.
We just graduated from Robeez to Preschoolians. We love them!
You can buy them at A Child's Place (top of Solano) or Sweet
Potatoes (bottom of Solano), but we got ours at
www.preschoolians.com. They have thin, flexible soles, but are
waterproof, unlike Robeez. They are about $35, which is still
expensive, but . . .
I can't address your daughter not liking to wear shoes, but I
can help with the other parts of your question. My
understandi! ng, and what we did with our own son, is that they
need something more solid than Robeez once they start walking
around outside - to protect their feet from rocks and things.
He has continued to wear Robeez, socks or bare feet inside most
of the time, and shoes outside. You don't have to buy the $50
shoes, although the salespeople may try to make you feel
otherwise - they just need to have flexible soles (you should be
able to fold the shoe in half in your hand) so the baby's foot
can move naturally. These shoes are generally designated ''first-
walkers'' or something like that. I found Stride-Rite sneakers
for first walkers on sale at Nordstrom for about $20 (they put
all women's and kids' shoes on sale twice a year), but their
regular price on many toddler shoes there is fairly good (way
less than $50), and the staff is much nicer (and less harried)
than at the Stride-Rite mall store. End-of-seas! on sales at
local kids' stores, like Cotton & Company on College, generally
have good prices as well.
First pair of shoes...I am of the opinion that first shoes are
important and it's best to spend the money on a good pair. I am
familiar with the ''other camp'' who professes it really doesn't
matter. We bought our first pair (stride-right) from
Nordstrom's when my son was 12 months old, and they lasted a
nice long 6 months. The soles were flexible(which they should
be) and the boot a little higher on the foot for stability and
fit. They were such good shoes that my second son wore them
One way to afford the nice stride-rights is to hit the
Nordstrom's half-yearly kids sale in June/July (there is
another sale later in the summer) and find stride-rights for
These are shoes your child will wear everyday, and they need to
fit well and be comfortable. Think if you wore the same shoes
everyday? Also, I think it is important to find a place that
can fit your child well, which is not available at mervyn's or
target. We also kept our Robeez till my kids were almost 20
months as an alternative shoe.
Good shoes = happy feet
I'm grateful that I wore good shoes as a kid. I'm middle aged, and back then most
kids wore good sturdy lace-up shoes most of the time from very early on.
One of my friends has a daughter who is just now a teenager. She's has always been
allowed to wear whatever shoes she wanted, and already her feet are flat and she's a
bit knock-kneed (which she wasn't when she was younger). She has problems
running and has no confidence about it, and I can't help but think that the kinds of
shoes she has worn are a good part of it- none of them provided good enough
support for learning how to run. She doesn't even own anything vaguely resembling
an athletic shoe because she doesn't like the way they look.
I think that it's a good idea to start with the good shoes very early on, and to buy
sandles with good support also. She'll get used to them- lots of good habits have
rocky beginnings. Talk to her about what a big girl she's getting to be and that
these are special big girl shoes! And of course, there's always times like at the beach
when flip-flops and jellies are appropriate.
If $50. is a problem, you might look at consignment shops and/or the Goodwill.
Since kids outgrow their shoes quickly, there's usually a lot of life left in them.
i bought hard-soled shoes for my son once he walked more than 10
steps or so outdoors. mostly i wanted his feet protected if there was the
possibility of little pebbles or something that might hurt through the
robeez. he still wears robeez indoors, like at daycare. if your little one
isn't a lot of places that might have sharp things on the ground, or if you
are vigilant about clearing a path, i'm sure there's no problem with
sticking to robeez a while longer.
we went to nordstrom's, i figured that even if it was a little pricier, i
wanted good customer service and a good fit for my son's first pair. the
salesperson was very helpful, very good with kids, and gave him a
stuffed animal (''nordie'') and a polaroid pic of him wearing ''my first
shoes''. we got stride rites that were $30- still about as much or more as
i pay for my shoes, but then i usually shop at payless. of course if you
want to you can spend $50+ for eccos or another brand.
i wonder if your daughter was crying because the shoes were too tight?
our salesperson told me that stride rites were good because they came
in wide widths. my little guy apparently has chubby feet, so he wears 5
I found a web site called Preschoolians.com. They have these really cool shoes that
have thin rubber soles, and are so light and flexible. They're ideal for toddlers that
are trying to transition to shoes, and they are good for outdoor conditions. My son
loved his, and was able to try a heavier shoe after about 6 months without
complaint. Check them out!
I just had to recommend the shoes on Preschoolians.com. They are great! The
prices are about the same as Stride Rite, but you order them on the net, no tax, no
shipping. Plus, the customer service is fabulous. The shoes are wonderful and
most can be machine washed and dried. Another great feature is that the insert
comes out and the toe part of the sole is clear so you can tell when your child needs
new shoes. My daughter is 20 months and she still wears them. Great features and
people are always complimenting the shoes.
Our daughter is almost 14 months and has just started walking-
takes about 5 steps at a time usually and can go across the room
sometimes but does best still holding on to someone's hand. I've
heard that you shouldn't buy shoes until they're ''walking well,''
and we've never put anything but socks on her feet-and yet most
babies I see out and about who I know aren't walking yet have
shoes on. We're looking for some advice as to what kind of shoes
to get (the ones I saw at Target all had really thick soles-like
adult running shoes, and I've heard you're supposed to start
with a thin sole)...and good places to get them. What should we
be looking for and where?
I recommend Robeez brand shoes. They're soft, slipper-like
shoes which I understand are the next best thing to going
barefoot (which supposedly is best for a new walker, at least
indoors). They're made out of soft leather, with an
elasticized opening that helps keep them on (they're the only
shoes my 16 month old can't pull off of his feet). The soles
have pretty good grip, and they offer a bit more protection
than just socks -- my son even wears them outdoors. They're a
bit pricey ($22/pair), but I think they're worth it -- I think
there are also some cheaper Robeez-like shoes available though
I'm not quite sure where to buy them.
I am not a pediatrician or a podiatrist, just a mom of a 14
month old walker, so you might want to do a quick check with
your baby^Rs doctor.
My son started to cruise about 3 months ago and has been walking
all over the place for about 1 1/2 months. Although our parents
were always told to put new walkers in hard soled shoes this
information has now been discredited by the medical profession,
as far as I know. The newest common advise is that you don't put
beginning walkers in shoes until you have to (to keep them warm
or to protect their feet outside, for example) since it's more
beneficial for them to 'feel' their feet and the ground they're
walking on while they're learning this new skill. Makes sense.
I've even seen baby shoe advertisements state this up front in
the form of "barefoot is better but when it's time for shoes"
If you keep them in socks make sure they have rubber treads on
them so they don't slip. Payless and The Gap make soft soled
tennis shoes but they seem to only go up to 12 months or size 3
or so. The best shoes I've found are the Robeez. You won't find
them in Target or Babies 'R' Us but instead in smaller baby
stores. These are great little leather shoes that are comfy,
conform to baby's feet, and maintain a feel for the ground as
they learn and perfect walking. And they won't slip off. They
are expensive though, between $20 and $25 with tax. I'm quite
the tightwad and we are a single income household but this
expense was well worth it.
p.s. About those little tiny, thick, rigid soled shoes. Just
because they're cute and available everywhere doesn't mean that
they're necessary or even beneficial baby's feet.
Mom running five steps behind
We were told that kids don't need shoes at all until they can
walk well outside. My now 16-month-old just got her first pair
of real shoes this week (made by Stride Rite - very flexible
soles). She started walking at 13 months and for that 3-month
period we kept her in bare feet or socks indoors and Robeez
outdoors. Robeez are the little leather shoe/slipper-like things
with suede bottoms so the kids don't slip. They go in the washer
when dirty and we found them great for going to the park,
learning to walk on the sidewalk, etc. They offer more
protection than just socks would. They come in all kinds of
colors and designs and can be found just about anywhere kids
shoes are sold. I've also found them at Rockridge Kids and
Cotton & Company. Sweet Dreams/Teddy's Little Closet on College
in the Elmwood district had a particularly good selection.
Your baby needs shoes designed for new walkers, with very
flexible soles. My personal favorites are Elefanten (sold at
Nordstrom, Cotton & Co., and higher end kids shoe stores)~ They
are soft, very flexible and offer good support for young
walkers. They have white (my favorite)and also colors. Stride
Rite also has early walker shoes which I have heard are very
good. The key for young feet is flexibility.
check out Cotton and Company on College Ave - they know
a lot, are very helpful, and know how to get a fidgety todder
fitted and out of there quickly == our favorites when our
daughter was a new walker were Stride Rite bootie type
shoes with a very flexible sole - we've been told by everyone
(doc included) not to have a stiff sole for a new walker.
Go to Cotton and Company on College Ave. They carry Stride Rite
and other good brands of baby/toddler/kid shoes. Their staff is
well-trained in proper fit--they won't sell you shoes that won't
fit, and if they think your daughter isn't quite ready for
shoes, they'll ask you to come back when she's a bit older. I
can't remember her name, but an older woman (the owner?) with
glasses does a marvelous job. I think Nordstroms carries
similar shoes, but the prices are the same and Cotton and Co has
a wider range of sizes, which is important is your daughter has
really narrow or really wide feet.
We bought our son's first pair of shoes before he was really
walking because we were going on a ski trip, and we wanted him
to be able to romp in the snow with protected feet! We took him
to the Cotton & Co. shoe department where the salesperson
observed him ''cruising'' (walking while holding onto something)
and said he'd be fine wearing shoes occasionally because of
something about the position of his feet.
Somewhat thick-soled shoes are fine as long as they're very
flexible. Stride Rite's ''first walker'' shoes are in this
category. You can also go for something like Padders or Robeez
slipper-type shoes, which have very thin soles -- just a little
tougher than socks. These provide a little warmth, protection
and grip for a baby who is standing and cruising but do not
interfere with the development of the baby's feet or his
learning to walk properly.
I wouldn't recommend Target shoes until your child really is
walking well. (They're great for preschoolers though!) But
Payless Shoes has pretty good Stride Rite knockoffs, which are a
good option for early walkers if you don't want to pay $40 for a
I never put shoes on my one-year-old child in the house, no matter how
cute the shoes were. Kids' shoes look cute, but they don't really do the
kids any good indoors.
When he did need to wear shoes (e.g. at the park, especially when it's
cold), I used one of two things. Either some soft, slipper-like shoes (I
think they're called Robis), or some very soft-soled tennis shoes (soft
enough that I could fold them completely in half) that I bought at
I didn't buy the harder soled tennis shoes until he was two years old and
walking with no trouble at all. Maybe a little extreme, but I've had foot
trouble off and on all my life, and would prefer to help my child avoid it.
My pediatrician also advised no shoes until walking was firmly
established. Then she recommended a shoe with a flexible sole.
Boy, let me tell you those baby shoes are not cheap!
Recommended places for fittings are: Cotton and Company
(Rockridge), Nordstrom(Marin) and ECCO (San Franscisco).
Recommended brands Stride Rite, Elephanten, ECCO. I followed
the Doctor's orders. Wallet now empty.
You should definitely stick to thin soled shoes for ''new
walkers.'' Kids need to feel the ground with their feet to
develop good walking skills. There are lots of good soft soled
shoes around that protect their feet while they learn to walk.
Several stores are carrying them now. Some of the brands are
Robeez (I think that's how you spell it) or Bobux. They look
like little leather mocassins with elastic around the ankle to
keep it on their feet. Nordstrom is a good place to start
because I know they have several patterns, but you can also look
up Bobux on the internet if you want to shop from home. Good luck!
Stride Rite makes a wonderful line of shoes called ''pre-
walkers''. They're soft and thin-soled and specifically designed
for babies learning to walk. Check out the Stride Rite outlet
at the Gilroy Outlets or Petaluma Outlets (only about 40 mins.
up Highway 101). We've bought numerous shoes at over 50% - 60%
off at the outlet!
re: child's first shoes
I bought my children's shoes at McPhee's Junior Bootery in the El Cerrito
Plaza. Paul, the older gentleman who works there, is an absolute artist at
fitting shoes to children's feet. I often feel that that little shop is a
gold mine tucked in a wasteland (the El Cerrito Plaza). The shoes may have
been more expensive than most, but they were great shoes, and they always
fit. It also reminded me of some of my happiest childhood memories, when
my parents took me into the nearest city, two hours away, to be fitted with
I was sorry when my kids outgrew that shop!
The UCB Parents web site almost unanimously recommends McPhee's Junior
Bootery in El Cerrito Plaza. They are, apparently, one of the last
old-style children's shoe stores around. They're great. They give you a
lot of attention; fit your child's shoes; send reminders in the mail to
come for fittings or have the velcro on your shoes fixed up; give the kids
balloons with their purchases; etc. What you might want to do is have your
child fitted at McPhee's for a first pair of shoes (such as Stride Right,
which probably run about $35), and then for the second pair try to find
similar shoes at a discount place like Marshall's (which sometimes carries
Stride Right). Or, make sure to have at least one "good" pair of shoes in
your son's size that you can alternate with less expensive shoes that maybe
don't have as much arch support, e.g. A few stores that carry less
structured shoes that run about $20 include Hannah's and A Child's Place,
both on Solano near the Alameda in Berkeley, and Tiddly Winks on Gilman.
The first walkers ARE about $40, and they only keep for about 2 months.
That's why we buy all our baby's shoes used. The exact same shoes that
would have cost almost $40 at the childrens' shoe store on El Cerrito Plaza
(I don't remenber the name of the store) I got in excellent condition for
$4.50 at Darla's. Shop around in the usual second-hand baby stores. It's
Another source for Stride Rite's is Carlin's in Alameda. Excellent
customer service. They keep track of the shoes and sizes for you and have
a buy 10/12??? shoes, get one free thing.
What we were told (by our pediatrician, I think) was that the first pair,
especially, should be the good (i.e., expensive) kind, and they should be
fit professionally. I guess since you have no way to know whether your
child has especially wide or narrow feet, etc. They should also be
supportive & good quality (i.e. flexible & sturdy, with some ankle support)
for feet that are still very much in the developmental stage. Four years
later, we still get one pair of the least expensive sneakers we can find at
McPhees at El Cerrito Plaza 2 or 3 times a year, just to make sure about
the fit. (They definitely seem to know what they're doing.) Then, if we
need sandals or extra shoes we go to Target or something & hope for the
best. I think that the cheaper shoes often run a little bigger, but it's
hard for me to tell (which is why I go to McPhees.) I like McPhees the
best because they're small & independent, & one of the few remaining
businesses at the Plaza, but if it's more convenient, a friend recommended
buying Stride Rite shoes (which is probably what you'll end up with,
anywhere you go) at Nordstrom (Marin, I think) where the staff is competent
and kind, & the prices were actually a little lower than the Stride Rite
store itself (also Marin? or Hilltop?)
One more quick thing about McPhees - good info even for
those who love the place already - if your child's shoes wear out before
their feet grow too big for them, they will likely replace the shoes for
free. We bought boots with hard toes once (won't do it again) & very
quickly holes wore through both the toes. They suggested that we don't buy
hard-toed shoes any more, but they replaced them for nothing. I wouldn't
have known if a friend's dad hadn't told me (they had the same shoes.)
McPhee's at El Cerrito Plaza is just terrific! They carry a great
selection and are very knowledgeable and helpful with kids.
Super service. We've used them since I was a kid myself.
Rockridge Kids on College Avenue just south of the Rockridge BART station
has (or used to have, last time I looked) lightweight canvas rubber-soled
kids shoes with Velcro fastening in sizes up to 7, available in navy blue
and red. I don't remember the price, but I'm pretty sure it was under $20.
They also have sturdier leather shoes which go up to larger sizes. I had a
very difficult time getting my daughter to tolerate shoes until I found the
canvas ones at Rockridge Kids, which she found very comfortable; when she
grew out of them we moved on to their leather ones. The canvas ones wear
out fairly fast, but at that age kids outgrow them fairly fast too.
shoes for kids: I heartily recomment McPhee's at El Cerrito Plaza. Nice
selection, nice people who take time with your child to make sure the fit is
I recommend McPhees at El Cerrito Plaza. They aren't as cheap as Target,
but are very honest. They really know their business and will make
sure that your child's first pair of shoes fit correctly. Also, they will
not sell you new shoes if your child doesn't need them!!
I like Cotton & Company on College Ave. in Oakland. Call before you go and
check if Colette will be in the store (she's one of the owners or mom of
one of the owners). Colette has been doing this for a long time and is
well experienced and very patient in fitting younger kids who'd rather be
somewhere else. They also have a basket of books/toys that help. C&C
carries Stride Rites and Elefanten, among other brands. While their
selection is clearly limited compared to say Nordstroms, the service and
attention we've received from Colette is unbeatable. We bought our first
pair of walking shoes there when my daughter was 17 months old. My daughter
is now 3yo and I still buy her primary shoe(s) for the season there (and
"supplement" with shoes from other stores). (Colette is the only person
who's ever pointed out that my daughter's feet are of different lengths--by
1/2 size.) IMO don't buy cheap shoes. You'll pay more, but you'll notice
the difference re. fit, sole flexibility, leather softness and
breathability, and how the shoe stands up to wear and tear.
McPhee Junior Bootery in El Cerrito Plaza is a great place to get
childrens' shoes -- personal service by people who know what they are
We have had luck finding shoes and sandles at Rockridge Kids (in the $17-$24
range) on College Avenue. Also, Ross, located in downtown Berkeley or
Emeryville has shoes at large markdowns (i.e $10/pair) but it is hit or miss
there, and when they have nothing decent you have to be willing to try again
another week. We have also used McPhees, a kids shoe store, which is pricey,
but sometimes has good shoes on sale in the $25 range. It may be a good idea
to get your first shoes at a kids shoe store like McPhee's (in the El Cerrito
mall), so you can learn from an experienced fitter, and then do it yourself
afterwards. Good luck.
I just have to respond to all the recommendations re: McPhee's Junior
Bootery in El Cerrito. While I agree that they are very good at
fitting, I want to caution you. Our daughter was born with
"positional clubbed feet" meaning her feet were bent inwards, but were
flexible enough to bend back to the regular position. We went to the
head pediatric orthopedic doctor at Children's Hospital regularly,
(who told us that she could just wear hand me down shoes from her
brother...expensive/Stride Rite/children's shoes don't matter as much
as people think they do.) He said she needed no special shoes, etc.
Having been told that, I went to McPhee's anyway, as I'd heard they
were good. The owner refused to size her, saying that he couldn't in
good conscience recommend shoes for her, since he believed that she
should have reverse-laced shoes - those that sometimes have a bar
between them and that are facing the opposite way of regular shoes.
We assured him we had been seeing a doctor for her and he said that
regular shoes were fine. The owner wouldn't budge.
(Moral - HE IS NOT A DOCTOR! Her feet are fine...she is 5 1/2 now and
has always worn "regular shoes"...he overstepped his bounds as a shoe
salesman, in my book.)
McPhees' Jr. Bootery at El Cerrito Plaza
They're great and they won't try to sell you new shoes if you don't need them.
We've always gone to McPhee's, in El Cerrito Plaza. The shoes there are
not as cheap as the ones at Target, but you're always sure they fit. Paul,
the manager, seems to have been selling kid's shoes for about 40 years.
To the parent looking for a good shoe store, I have been going to McPhees
at El Cerrito Plaza in El Cerrito on San Pablo near Fairmount. The store
itself is near Lucky's. I found the sales people knowledgeable and patient
and concerned with the proper fit for growing feet. It can be crowded on
Sunday afternoons, but they hold store hours 7 days per week. They will
also send you a reminder notice after a few months to come in and check the
sizing on the last pair of shoes you bought. If you go on a Saturday,
there is a Farmer's Market at the Plaza that is also nice.
McPhee's Bootery in the El Cerrito Plaza is a full service shoe store for
kids. They fit your child and keep a card on each child so that they
will be able to track the growth of those little feet! They cost more
than other shoe stores, but you're paying for the service, and they do
have good sales periodically.
I bought my children's shoes (mostly Stride Rites) at McPhee's Junior
Bootery at the El Cerrito Plaza, from the time they first "needed" shoes
(walking outdoors) till they outgrew the sizes, and I always felt that my
children were very well fitted, and that we were treated with the utmost
care and consideration. Good shoes aren't cheap, and you'll pay more for
Stride Rites than Target specials, but in this area, and during the
important developmental stages, I felt it was absolutely worth it. It's
especially nice if you can get Paul, the manager, to fit your child, as he
is the best I've ever seen at this sensitive task.
It was a sad day when I bought my daughter her last pair of Stride Rites.
(I'd like to hear from other parents with these feelings about good shoes
as to where to go for the next round -- from elementary school till middle
school, when I suppose my opinion on shoes won't count for much!)
On the subject of walking shoes, I highly recommend Junior Bootery in El
Cerrito Plaza, I have bought most of my kids shoes there, and always get
professional and friendly service. It can be busy on weekends (the only
time I get to shop) and the help is sometimes young and new, but they always
get a second opinion from a more seasoned sales person if they are unsure
about the fit. And both of my kids are HARD to please.
May I be the 10th to repeat that McPhee's Junior Bootery is of course the
A#1 best children's shoe store around. (In fact, they could be the only
children's shoe store around.) They are one of the last businesses left at
El Cerrito Plaza. They are extremely knowledgable and helpful about
correct fit, and which shoes will really last and which are junk (mostly
they don't even carry junk). Go early on Saturday (10ish), check out the
Farmer's Market, and don't miss the train in the Kit & Caboodle window.
(It's real boring to hold your child up & walk back & forth 50 times, but
she/he will love it.) If, like me, you need more shoes than you can afford
every once in a while at McPhee's, just try the Berkeley Ross upstairs. I
even found StrideRite there - once. I depend on McPhee's for fit though,
always. They invariably tell me my son's feet are bigger than I thought.
this page was last updated: Feb 24, 2011
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