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3 Types of Footwear Ideal for Toddlers' Developing Feet
PHOTO BY @noimagination/iStock
  • We love dressing up our young children from head to foot. Even as infants, we like to make them wear pieces that match — never mind if it’s just white onesies with white mittens and booties. And because infants just can’t wear shoes yet, of course someone came up with socks that mimic the look of shoes — which we love!

    When they’re bigger and can actually wear shoes, it’s so tempting to buy every design available, because who doesn’t find tiny shoes absolutely adorable? However, before you go on a shopping spree, read this: not all shoes are suitable for your toddler’s developing feet.

    According to Miguel Cunha, DPM, podiatrist at Gotham Footcare in Manhattan, “[Children’s] bones aren’t fused in the early stages of development and they fuse as the child starts to grow.” Therefore, footwear that offers ample support and stimulates proper development of the feet are important at this stage.

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    Cunha says soft shoes are okay to use before your child starts walking, but “once they start ambulating, you would want a hard sole because you want to support their feet or help avoid them injuring their feet.”

    On the other hand, there may also be benefits to having your toddler walk barefoot when they're still young (Read more on the practice of “earthing”).

    “There are advantages to walking barefoot on carpet, grass, mats, or even walking in the sand, which can help strengthen the musculature of the foot,” says Cunha, “but definitely not on hard floors because the bones aren’t developed yet.”


    Walking on hard floors could in fact worsen flat feet, a condition where the foot has a very low or non-existent arch, so that the foot lays flat on the ground. This in turn may result to pain in the legs and joints, thereby affecting how a person walks.

    That said, remember to choose functionality over aesthetics when buying footwear for your toddler. 

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    Types of shoes recommended for toddlers

    Buy these!

    PHOTO BY screenshot from bata.com.my

    Hard-soled shoes

    Shoes with rubber or leather soles help prevent slips because they have grip. They also provide your child support, especially if he is still trying to gain control of his balance. 

    PHOTO BY screenshot from skechers.com.ph
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    According to Cunha, “The best type of shoe is going to be a sneaker, because it’s designed to have support high up in the foot, and it has a rubber sole with traction to avoid injuries.” These also do not restrict the ankles. 

    PHOTO BY screenshot from skechers.com.ph

    Sporty sandals

    If you want something that exposes the foot a bit more (to go with your daughter's dress, for example), sporty sandals are a good option. They offer support while also providing ventilation to prevent your child’s foot from getting stinky.

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    Don’t buy these!

    Heeled shoes

    Cunha says the footwear you don’t want your toddler to wear at all are heels because they are “the worst.”

    “They are altering the position of the foot in ways that will create tightness in the Achilles tendon and complications as they start to grow. You want to avoid altering the natural mechanics of the body when it’s developing and in a vulnerable state,” he explains.


    Flip flops

    Because the toes have to grip the flip flop strap to keep them in place, there’s a tendency to develop hammertoes, a deformity where the toes bend, with prolonged use of flip flops. These also don’t have arch support which could worsen flat feet.

    As a final tip, Cunha says expensive shoes are not necessarily the best option. "It’s more important to choose supportive, safe shoes that fit well."

    Who knew the shoes you get your child was so crucial to his development?

    What other parents are reading

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