If your baby or toddler is just beginning to walk outdoors, it’s time to get him his first pair of shoes to protect his little feet. Here are the eight best shoes for babies and toddlers as chosen by Pampers Parents. Plus, we guide you through what to look for in a pair of walking shoes, and how to check the fit.

Does Your Baby or Toddler Need Shoes Yet?

Your baby or toddler needs shoes only when he starts to walk outdoors. If your little one is still crawling or learning to stand, hold off on putting shoes on your child’s feet. Barefoot is best for the growth and development of his feet. There’s a range of ages at which children start to walk, but typically, it is around the 12-month mark (or a little earlier or later). Before your child starts walking, socks or booties with non-skid soles are all that’s needed to keep your baby’s feet nice and warm when outdoors. Once your baby or toddler is walking outside, he’ll need a pair of shoes to protect his feet.

How to Select the Right Shoe Size

If you can, go to a shoe store where one of the associates can measure your child’s foot and tell you which size shoe is right for him. The first pair of shoes may only last two to three months, but it’s still worth checking the fit yourself monthly as tiny feet can grow fast. To check that the shoe still fits, press down on the tip of the toe box and see whether there is about a finger’s width distance between your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoe. If the shoe is getting tight, it’s time for a bigger pair. Be aware that sizing often varies among manufacturers, but some provide a sizing guide to help you choose the right size. If you have a specific shoe in mind, your best bet is to take your toddler to a store that stocks the shoe to check the fit.

What to Consider When Buying a Baby Shoe

When buying a shoe for your baby or toddler who’s just started walking, you'll want to look for a closed toe, comfortable style with flexible, non-skid soles. You'll also want to consider the following:

  • Fit. The shoes shouldn’t be too tight—your child should be able to move or wriggle his toes with some room to grow—but at the same time there shouldn’t be too much room at the toes either as this can be a tripping hazard.

  • Material. Go for shoes made of breathable fabrics like leather, canvas, or mesh.

  • Color and design. All baby shoes are super cute so you can’t really go wrong when it comes to the look, but you may prefer a darker color or a patterned designed to help hide marks and stains. On the other hand, white sneakers proved popular with Pampers Parents and, in reality, even with some scuffs they are still going to retain their overall white appearance. In terms of style, think about whether you prefer a shoe that looks like a sneaker or one that’s more of a “dress shoe.” Or perhaps you’d get most use out of something in between, like a canvas shoe.

  • Price. Because your baby or toddler will grow out of his shoes pretty quickly, it may not be worth spending loads on a fancy, expensive pair. Instead, select something that is well made, meets all of the above requirements, and doesn’t break the bank. Keep in mind that the price of baby shoes can vary based on the size, so always make sure you’re looking at the right size when comparing prices.

Experts say that it’s unnecessary to choose a shoe with wedges, inserts, high backs, reinforced heels, special arches, or other features that claim to shape the feet, as these have not been shown to be beneficial for most children.

8 Best Baby or Toddler Walking Shoes

With so many adorable walking shoes for babies and toddlers on the market, it can be hard to pick just one style. To help you narrow the field, check out the eight best baby or toddler walking shoes as voted by Pampers Parents:

1. Stride Rite Kids' Soft Motion Jazzy Sneaker

Why pick this one? Getting almost a third of the votes was this super cute pearlescent white sneaker by Stride Rite. The shoe has a leather upper, providing breathability, and the sole is made of rubber to help prevent slips. These shoes close with a hook and loop fastener to make it quick and easy for you to put them on and take them off. The sizes go from 3 to 6 and come in half sizes too. The manufacturer provides a handy sizing key to help you select the right size. Many Pampers Parents praised the quality and fit of these shoes. Some Pampers Parents saw the high price as a drawback though, while others said they loved these shoes so much the extra cost was worth it.

Stride Rite Soft Motion Sneakers are THE BEST first sneakers for a baby! They’re flexible and move with your baby’s feet.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: There are wide and extra wide variants of some of the sizes, in case your baby or toddler has a wider foot. Many Pampers Parents said this variety in sizes helps ensure the right fit. Price*: about $46.00 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓Easy to put on✕ Expensive
✓ Soft but still supportive✕ Could have more variety in colors and styles
✓ Great fit

2. Nike Tanjun (Toddler)

Why pick this one? This could be a popular choice for parents who've worn the adult version, or are Nike fans in general. This particular sneaker has a breathable mesh upper, and the midsole is made from phylon, which is kind of like a dense foam. The shoe is lightweight and the midsole is cushioned for extra comfort. These sneakers have hook and loop fastening; the laces are just decorative. Many Pampers Parents commented that these are durable, good quality shoes. The price of this shoe depends on the size you select. Overall, this is the most expensive baby shoe on this list. Be mindful when buying Nike shoes to select a size with “C” in it as this indicates the shoe is for children. The sizes range from 2 to 10 with no half sizes.

The Nike shoes may be a bit more expensive (but I’ve always tried to get them onsale) but they truly hold up. I’ve gotten cheaper sneakers for my kids, but they just destroy them. The Nikes I’ve had for my boys they have both been able to use.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: These Nikes come in lots of colors including gray, purple, speckled pink, and black. There are different colored swooshes to choose from too, like white on black, all black, or red on gray.

Price*: from about $47.17 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Comfort✕ Could come in a wider version
✓ Stylish look✕ Could be more colors to choose from
✓ Easy to put on✕ Could be more affordable
✓ Light weight 
✓ Durable 

3. Carter's Kids Every Step Park2

Why pick this one? Coming in at third place are these camel-colored Carter’s “dress” style shoes. They look more formal than other styles, so they could be perfect for your little one for special occasions. Although the color is versatile, it's light, so dirt and marks might show quite easily. This is definitely something to consider if your baby or toddler will be playing outdoors a lot in them. If your budget allows, it could be that these shoes are more just for special occasions, and you have another pair of sneakers or canvas shoes for everyday use. Although these shoes come in half sizes, the size range is limited to sizes like 2.5, 4.5, 5.5, and 6.

I chose this shoe because it is a little wider than most of the other shoes we’ve tried. My baby has very thick chubby feet. I have a very difficult time finding shoes that fit.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: These shoes have a suede look, so they may be more suitable for a special occasion than your typical sneaker. Price*: from about $14.97 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Price✕ The white sole gets dirty easily
✓ Cute Design✕ Could be waterproof
✓ Light weight✕ More color choices would be great

4. Robeez Boys' Low Top Sneaker

Why pick this one? These gray and yellow sneakers look pretty snazzy for a baby or a toddler! They have a leather and textile upper, and a mostly rubber sole. The insole is cushioned for extra comfort. Like most of the other shoes on this list, this pair of Robeez has a hook and loop fastener. What’s neat about these shoes is the elasticized back, which makes them easier to take off and put on. There’s also a tab at the back to make them even easier to pull on. One drawback is the synthetic lining, which is not as breathable as it could be. Pampers Parents raved about the softness of the leather, and many loved the soft leather middle of the sole, which allowed their little ones to grip the floor better. Be careful with the sizing, as it’s based on age and not traditional sizing.

These are made of a soft leather and provide the perfect fit so your baby is comfortable and can also grip flooring well with the no-slip leather soles. I found that my children walked easier in them than other brands of walking shoes.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: This shoe comes in a wide range of colors, so if the gray and yellow one isn’t what you’re after you can also pick from blue check, white, brown, and many more! Price*: from about $13.55 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Soft leather✕ Can wear out fast, especially around the toes
✓ Good grip✕ Could be available in more sizes
✓ Flexible sole✕ Can be hard to figure out the right size

5. Pediped Girls' Betty Mary Jane

Why pick this one? For special occasions or even everyday glam, go for these pretty silver shoes by pediped. These shoes come in a classic Mary Jane style with a cute bow detail at the front, and hook and loop fastening. The scalloped edge is another nice touch, as is the visible stitching. The shoe is 100 percent leather, but the leather sole is latticed to give a little extra grip. The sizing is based on age, and there are extra wide variants of most sizes.

Looks great with all outfits and comfortable with or without socks.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: This shoe comes in a black patent leather and a champagne bronze color as well. Price*: from about $35.47 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Soft sole✕ Leather shows wear and tear
✓ Easy to walk in✕ Hook and loop fastener could be more secure
✓ Cute design 

6. ikiki Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers

Why pick this one? These shoes are funky and squeaky! The toe box comes in various designs, and you can really go nuts picking which is the cutest. There’s everything from a happy skull and an otter to a unicorn. The upper of the shoe also comes in lots of different colors, so your choice of options is pretty big with ikiki Squeaky Shoes. If your child is big enough, you might even like to let her pick the character she likes best. Will she go for the panda, the hippo, or the dragon? Beyond being ridiculously cute, these shoes have a built-in “squeaker.” Basically, these shoes make a squeaking sound each time your child steps. Some Pampers Parents loved that the fun sound encouraged their little ones to walk and jump more. Don’t worry, though—the squeak can be turned off if it starts to get on your nerves. This shoe is designed for toddlers and “little kids,” but not babies. Sizes range from 2 to 13.

Toddlers love to jump and run around. I love the squeaky shoes. It makes my kids want to jump, run and show off his squeaky shoes.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: Once the hook and loop is open the tongue can be pulled right forward so your child can easily get his foot into the shoe. Price*: from about $26.96 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ The squeaky sound✕ Would be good if it had a sleeker design option
✓ Easy to put on✕ Could have more cushioning
✓ Comfortable fit

7. RVROVIC Baby Shoes Canvas Sneakers Anti-Slip

Why pick this one? These shoes are mini versions of those popular canvas boat shoes you often see adults wear. The canvas upper is breathable, and the rubber sole is non-skid. This shoe is the most affordable on our list. Unlike most of the other shoes on this list it doesn’t have hook and loop fastening; rather, the elastic laces mean you can simply stretch the shoe open and slip it on. There are high top and lace-less slip on versions of some of the colors, too. Sizing might be tricky with this shoe as it only comes in two sizes: One for 6- to 12-month-olds and one for 12- to 18-month-olds.

I liked how they are easily put on, and they don’t have too much padding on the bottom. Some shoes have too thick of a sole on them so then it makes it feel too different when walking without shoes.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: There are many colors to choose from, including classic black and white checks, yellow, teal, mushroom brown, navy blue, and bright pink. Price*: from about $8.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Cute✕ Some children may be able to kick them off quite easily
✓ Sturdy✕ Not all the colors are available in all sizes and styles
✓ Easy to put on and take off 

8. Native Kids Shoes Baby Girl's Jefferson 2.0 Liteknit

Why pick this one? These sporty and fashionable shoes are slip-ons but have crisscross laces as decoration. There is a tab at the back to help you pull them on. They come in vibrant colors like bright green and bright purple, so your little one is sure to stand out. The toe and sole are a bright white rubber. Having the toe cap made of rubber helps make these shoes extra durable (because the toe area may be less likely to wear out) but the white may show scuffs and marks more easily. These shoes are for toddlers and “little kids” only, so you’ll have to put off buying them if your child is still a baby. Sizes run from 6 to 13, and there are no half sizes.

Easier to put on, easy to clean, and matched with a lot of outfits.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: The manufacture claims the shoe is vegan. Price*: from about $19.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Easy to keep clean✕ Could come in a wide version
✓ Can be used without socks✕ Could come in more colors
✓ Lightweight

The Bottom Line

There are so many firsts in your child’s life, and the first pair of shoes is just one of the many exciting milestones you’ll reach together. As long as you pick a shoe that is comfortable, safe, and fits well, you can’t really go wrong no matter which one you choose—baby shoes are all just so tiny and cute!

Recall Notice

Before buying a product, always check that it’s approved and hasn’t been recalled on sites like the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

*Prices are correct at the time of writing.