First walkers; blue – Jacardi, brown – Pom d’api, red – Pom d’api. Winterboots; Brown – Reima, purple – Viking, light brown – Pom d’api. Leather sneakers; Blue – Geox, pink – Geox. soft shoes; EnFant. (adlinks)
So I’m not just a fashion and beauty enthusiast, I’m also a Mum to 14-month-old Ace. And I happen to be a bit of an expert on children’s shoes.
I know a lot of Mums really struggle picking out shoes for their little ones. Especially the first walkers. So I thought it would make for an excellent and very useful post. And if you don’t have kids, just read something else and bookmark it for now. You will most likely need this information in the future.
Let’s start with my credentials. Why am I the expert? Well, in the 90s and early 2000s my mother owned a small chain of shops in Sweden called “Trollskor”. Children’s shoe shops to be precise.
As a mother with 3 kids and her busines, my Mum just had to make it work. So we ended up spending a lot of time in these shops, at trade fairs and even in meeting with suppliers.
It was a great education. Not only did I learn how to run a small business. I also picked up everything I could ever need to know about children’s shoes. So much so that I started working in the shop before I was even 10. (Child labor anyone?). During my teens I worked every weekend and once I finished school I had a part-time job in one of the shops whenever I wasn’t traveling or modeling.
Kids shoes are a bit trickier than adult shoes.
The first problem is that they can’t really tell us if a shoe is comfy or not. The second is that children’s feet are constantly growing and developing. So it’s incredibly important to pick shoes that will support and fit them really well. Especially the first walkers.
These were my criteria when I looked to buy Ace’s first walkers;
1. Leather all the way inside and out.
Fabric doesn’t really breathe the same way as leather does. (Smell a pair of Converse if you dare). And plastic is a total no-go. Babies have sensitive skin all over their bodies and like us, they sweat from their feet. Leather will help keep those little feet dry and it will also shape around the foot as they wear it. The only exception here is Geox, that manages to make their non-leather shoes breath by magic (or some fancy membrane).
2. Make sure the insole is built up in the arch
Feel with your finger inside the shoes, where the arch of the foot will be. This part should be raised, to support the foot. It will make the shoe a lot comfier, but will also prevent your little one from falling inwards with their feet when they walk.
3. The shoe should be tall and stable at the back.
It’s really important that the shoe gives plenty of support around the heel area. This makes sure the ankle stays straight and the child will then be able to walk better.
4. You should be able to bend the shoe.
You want your toddler to still be able to crawl and get up and down from sitting when they are wearing the shoes. So you have to make sure they bend properly. Just press the toe of the shoe up towards the heel, if they are super soft and light they will touch. But I’m happy if they get close.
5. Always choose laces.
There are a few reasons why laces are the better option. One is that it’s important that the shoe really stays on and laces are unbeatable to make a shoe snug. Another reason is that it’s pretty easy to open velcro. Just make sure to tie the shoe properly and very few babies will be able to get a double knot open. There are shoes with laces on top and a zipper on the side. This is a great option if you don’t fancy tying and untying laces.
The first walkers are a bit different than the next shoe up. It’s just sooo important they fit really well. So I would recommend a maximum of 5 mm extra length in the shoe for growth. They will grow out of them quicker, but it’s worth it. The next shoe up can afford to have 7 mm-1 cm extra. Winter boots need some extra air to stay warm and maybe to fit a thicker sock inside. So I would suggest to have 1 cm extra in the first one and later even 1.5 cm once your child walks well.
All decent children’s shoe shops will have two measuring devices. One for the foot (ALWAYS measure standing up!) and one for the inside of the shoe. If you are going to order shoes online, make sure to have both at home.
7. Don’t buy second-hand.
As you know, I’m pro-pre-loved. But not when it comes to underwear and children’s shoes. You never know what kind of problems the last child had with their feet. Maybe they walked with one foot leaning inwards or just had a bit of a wonky gait. The shoes will be worn in a particular way because of it, and it could make your child inherit the problem. So always buy new shoes for the little ones.
8. Winter shoes.
Of course, winter shoes do need to be a bit more padded. It’s hard to get leather all the way trough and most of the time they are not very bendy either. I would go for fully lined Goretex boots. A lower version with laces for the youngest and a regular boot with velcro for the slightly older kids. Just make sure it’s nicely fitted and built up in the arch inside. They should not be able to step out of the boot or shoe.
Wellies are super cute, but not at all good for babies and toddlers. They are made of plastic, comes off super easy and are completely flat inside. About as great for babies feet as clogs or crocs… Just get a waterproof winter boot instead.
What I’m trying to say is that little Gucci sneakers, Nikes and Uggs are super cute. But keep them for the buggy. Now is not the time for vanity, you are setting your child’s feet up for life. Just go for something that is appropriate, there will be plenty of time for cute shoes when they are older.
So far Ace has shoes from Jacardi, Bundgaard (better for wide feet, Aces feet are skinny), Pom D’api and Geox. I also like Sorel, Viking, Reima, Gulliver and Superfit.
I really hope this post will be helpful when you are shopping for those first walkers. It’s such a precious moment when they take their first steps. Enjoy it!