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How to Buy Baby's First Shoes

Time for your tot to put her best foot forward. Follow our trusty step-by-step guide to finding the perfect-fitting shoes.

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-As soon as your little one starts walking, he's ready to graduate from slippers to structured shoes that'll protect him from outdoor hazards like sharp rocks. Have baby go barefoot when you're at home though so he can more easily develop the muscles and coordination needed to improve balance while walking. Shop in the afternoon since feet can swell during the day and you want his new shoes to accommodate any expansion. Measure your toddler standing up so feet are at their widest either using a child-size metal measuring device called the Junior Brannock Device or a measuring guide from the shoe company. Typically, one foot will measure larger than the other so buy based on the bigger size. Look for footwear with flexible slip-resistant soles and stick with low-top styles which allow the ankle joint to move freely. Avoid sandals unless they are closed toe with small vents that allow for air circulation, but make sure the holes aren't big enough for things like pebbles to slip through. Avoid any rubbing by pairing sandals with socks until the material loosens some. Once your baby is in the shoe, make sure he's putting some pressure on the balls of his feet. Lightly press on the tip of the shoe to check that he's not curling his toes which early walkers tend to do. Once the toes are flat, there should be a pinky width space between the end of his big toe and the tip of the shoe. If his feet measure differently, perform the pinky test on the larger foot. You'll know the shoes are wide enough if you're able to squeeze your pinky between his inside arches and the shoes inner lining. When your todd takes a step, note the crease that forms on the shoe just below the toes. If it's angled at all, the shoe may be too wide. If tightening the laces or Velcro doesn't straighten the fold, consider a narrower style. After buying, have your baby wear the shoes with socks inside for half an hour, then check his feet for any redness or rubbing on the skin. If there is, exchange them.