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Top Tips on Buying Children's Shoes

As soon as your little one takes his first tentative steps, you may be tempted to rush out and buy the first pair of shoes you see. Keep in mind, however, that while little feet are developing and your child is learning to walk - barefoot is always best! Second to that, a good quality and properly fitted shoe is imperative.


How your baby's feet develop:

When your baby is born he or she will only have 22 bones out of the 26 bones of a fully developed foot. The remaining four bones will slowly develop as the foot grows to its full adult length.  

The first 4 to 6 years are the most important time for foot development. So while your child’s foot is developing, it's crucial that they wear good quality and properly fitted footwear so to avoid bigger problems later on in life.


childs foot development stages


Image courtesy of Bobux Australia


What to look for when buying shoes for your children:


Bend the soles. Soles in leather or rubber should be flexible for walking but thick enough to protect; and with enough traction to prevent slipping. You want their shoes to feel as close to barefoot as possible.


Little feet are important. It is advisable to buy one quality pair rather than two cheaper pairs. 

Leather is preferable for the upper part of the shoe because it allows feet to breathe. If these are out of your price range, a good pair of canvas or cloth shoes also allow the foot to breathe and can be more affordable.


Have shoes properly and professionally measured and fitted regularly. Children’s feet on average go up two whole sizes a year until they are five years old. Shoe sizes also vary between brands.

When buying new shoes, try to allow an adult thumb width in front of your child's big toe. Shoes should not be restricting when walking.

You should be able to notice if your child’s shoes feel uncomfortable when they walk. A well-fitted shoe should allow your child to feel as though they have no shoes on at all. At this age, children shouldn't have to 'break' their shoes in.



When starting to walk, children do not require arch support, as their foot needs to develop and strengthen on its own.

All shoes for toddlers (including sandals) should have an enclosed heel to give maximum support to the heel and ankle. Try holding the back of the shoe in your hand and squeezing the sides together - if the shoe is firm enough, they shouldn't meet.

The toe box (front of the shoe) should be round and wide to avoid cramping of the toes.The shoe length should be a thumb-width longer than the foot, measured from the end of your child’s longest toe.


Our aim at Little Treads is to help little feet, be happy and healthy feet for life. We have curated a range of brands which we feel reflect some of the best options to ensure happy little feet. Some of the brands which provide the best support for growing feet include:



Bobux footwear is endorsed by podiatrists and no wonder – this New Zealand based brand is passionate about healthy foot development. But it doesn’t sacrifice style for practicality. These are, hands down, some of the most stylish kids’ shoes we have found, and we’re a bit jealous that they don’t do a range for adults. The brand has been around since 1991 and their "claim to fame" the founders designed the world’s first all-leather soft sole shoe for their daughter.

Bobux boasts 4 ranges all centered around a child's development stages- Soft Soles for babies and pre-walkers, Stepups which are made for a child taking their first steps and have a rounder foot needing a shoes which are going to allow them to walk and grow naturally, iWalk for confident walkers and KID+ for children in kindy and starting school.



PLAE shoes have been specifically engineered for little feet. More than just style came into consideration when designing these very cool kicks. PLAE uses the biometric science generally reserved for elite athletes to craft a shoe that protects the natural development of children’s feet and features one-of-a-kind interchangeable tabs (straps), allowing kids to express themselves by personalising their style. PLAE shoes are also washable (only excluding the leather styles), have removable insoles, active traction, breathable, flexible, lightweight and premium quality materials.



For older children especially those with flat feet, the go to brand for sandals are Birkenstock. They have become a world renowned due to their contoured foot beds which provide great support keeping the foot and leg correctly aligned.