When you’re buying shoes for your toddler, you might be thinking about things like size and cost, but there are a lot of ways in which style is important at this age. The first thing to remember, of course, is that your child is likely to grow out of the shoes pretty quickly, so think hard before buying something expensive just because it’s a pretty designer shoe. There are many options available for fashionable shoes that are also safe, comfortable, and affordable.
You also probably won’t want to buy too many pairs at once—one or two at a time is probably enough, and even if you’re looking at major weather changes while the shoes are still being used, keep in mind that any shoes you buy now are likely to outgrown too quickly to make multiple pairs useful.
Open shoes like sandals can be useful in summer, though you’ll want to watch for a few things. First, the sole needs to be both flexible and sturdy, so flip-flops or something in hard plastic will often be too difficult for a toddler to navigate in. Hard plastic sandals will also be uncomfortable. Even softer shoes like Crocs can be a tripping hazard, and might not offer enough foot protection. Any of these kinds of shoes are better for older toddlers who can walk more confidently.
More casual shoes like sneakers are generally good for new walkers, because they’re soft and flexible but still have a solid base and non-skid soles. Make sure the treads aren’t deep enough to catch on anything, and that the soles aren’t too smooth and are genuinely non-skid. Sneakers will also mold to the feet well, which is good for helping them develop.
Boots may be necessary in winter, although you’ll want to make sure they’re not too restrictive. Make sure there’s plenty of room for ankle movement.
There are a lot of different closure types to choose from. For slip-ons, you’ll need to make sure they won’t fall off too easily. Some styles of shoes for toddlers have an elastic ankle band that can help. The most important thing is finding something that feels comfortable for your child. When using shoes with laces, make sure the laces are long enough to tie a secure bow. A Velcro closure can save time and hassle, and even allow your toddler to learn to put on his or her own shoes.
Most importantly, you’ll want to choose shoes that your child likes and feels good in. This is a good way to avoid the idea of shoes becoming a battle and instead to get your toddler more excited about wearing them.