1. Wait until your baby starts to walk
Don't buy shoes for your child until she's taking a dozen or so steps on her own, says Dr. Lloyd Nesbitt, a doctor of podiatric medicine in Toronto. This helps facilitate the natural development of muscles and tendons in your baby's feet, he says. However, he adds, if she's spending time outdoors, she'll need to be fitted with shoes at an earlier stage.
2. When purchasing baby shoes, look out for flexibility
Look for shoes that have good support and cushioning but are not overly bendable. "Take the shoe and see if it flexes easily at the ball of the foot," says Nesbitt. It's important that this area in particular be flexible because it's where the foot bends when your child walks. However, he cautions that if the shoe bends too easily in the middle, it won't have the necessary support. He recommends leather shoes and good quality running shoes, rather than stiff, plastic shoes or flip-flops.
3. Have room to grow
The shoe for your new walker should have about 0.5 to one centimetre of extra space at the toe, says Jodie Potter, the store manager for Olly, a children's shoe store in Toronto. She cautions against leaving more space. "Too much room will contribute to tripping," she says. Check the shoes every two to four months to make sure that your child hasn't outgrown them. How can you tell? "A small child will likely begin to take off her shoes more often when they start to get too small," says Potter, adding that red marks on the sides of your child's feet or toes are telltale signs.
This story was originally titled "Baby's Best Foot Forward" in the February 2006 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
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