Parents routinely get snookered into spending much more for infant and toddler shoes than they need to. Nowadays, the pediatric orthopedists (bone specialists) recommend soft, flexible shoes with nonskid soles, for when barefoot walking is inappropriate. Like, cheap Keds®-style tennis shoes. Those expensive white high-topped, stiff, slick leather-soled, "steel ankle support" shoes are for impressing your mother-in-law but they aren't necessary or even desirable for toddlers. The only function of the high top is to keep the shoe on a pudgy little baby foot which tends to have an ankle that is bigger around than the heel - hence the tendency to slip off. If a low-topped shoe will stay on, use that. (Have you ever been skiing? Remember what it's like to walk in stiff ski boots - the adult equivalent of high-topped shoes. Now imagine LEARNING TO WALK in ski boots!) And of course, around the house - barefoot is fine.

The function of ordinary shoes is to protect the foot from rocks, glass, stickerburrs, etc. It is NOT to mold the foot into something more perfect than it already is. "Orthopedic shoes" or corrective shoes are appropriate only when prescribed for a definite medical condition by a competent physician, preferably a pediatric orthopedist. A shoe salesman will not do. The best shoes for babies are often the cheap little tennis shoes from the discount store.

When fitting a new shoe, make sure you can push down on the toe to prove there is about the baby's thumb width of growing room in front of the baby's toe. There should be some side to side wiggle room, as well - pinch the last on the side of the shoe to get a feel for this. Any baby shoe (properly sized initially) more than about two months old is probably too small already - if they fall apart in that time, so be it. By three months the shoes are definitely too small!

See feet, flat; feet, turning in; shoes, orthopedic.

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