8 Best Shoes for New Walkers & Toddlers (2023)

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By Wildr Editor

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As parents, we want the best for our little ones, and that includes ensuring their first steps are supported by the right shoes. With so many options available, finding the perfect pair can be overwhelming.

We'll explore the benefits of choosing eco-friendly shoes for new walkers and toddlers, including healthier materials, ethical practices, and reduced environmental impact.

Additionally, we'll provide a list of top shoe recommendations from sustainable brands, grouped by categories, to help you make an informed and responsible choice for your little one's footwear.

The Importance of Proper Fit and Support for New Walkers

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Podiatric Medical Association emphasize the importance of proper fit and support for new walkers. A good walking shoe should be flexible, have a wide toe box, and allow for natural movement.

Soft sole shoes with adjustable straps ensure a comfortable fit, while breathable materials help keep little feet dry and healthy. Bare feet are also encouraged when indoors, as they provide the best opportunity for natural foot development.

Choosing the Best Baby Walking Shoes

When selecting shoes for your new walker or toddler, consider these key factors:

  1. Size: Measure your baby’s feet and ensure there's enough room for growth. Shoes should be snug but not tight, with enough space for the toes to wiggle.
  2. Fit: Look for shoes with adjustable straps or loop closures, such as Velcro, to ensure a secure fit that can be easily adjusted as your child grows.
  3. Material: Opt for breathable material like cotton, canvas, or leather to keep your little one's feet dry and comfortable.
  4. Sole: Flexible soles, preferably made from natural rubber, are essential to support the natural movement of your child's feet.

Why Sustainable Shoes Matter for Little Feet

When searching for the best new walker shoes, you may not be immediately drawn to sustainable options. However, there are several reasons why choosing eco-friendly shoes can be incredibly beneficial for both your child and the environment.

Here's a closer look at why sustainable shoes should be on every parent's radar when shopping for their little one's footwear.

Healthier Materials, Healthier Feet

Traditional shoes for new walkers and toddlers often contain harmful chemicals and synthetic materials that can pose risks to your child's health. By choosing sustainable shoes made from natural, non-toxic materials, you're reducing the chances of skin irritation, allergies, or other health concerns related to synthetic chemicals.

Natural materials are often more breathable, promoting better air circulation and reducing the risk of odor, fungal growth, or discomfort.

Promoting Ethical Practices

By purchasing shoes from sustainable brands, you are supporting companies that prioritize fair labor practices, ethical manufacturing, and the welfare of their employees. In a world where many products are made in exploitative conditions, choosing sustainable shoes sends a powerful message to the fashion industry and encourages more responsible practices.

Reducing Environmental Impact

The fashion industry, including the footwear sector, has a significant impact on our environment, from the depletion of natural resources to water pollution caused by toxic chemicals.

Choosing sustainable shoes made from eco-friendly materials and manufactured through responsible processes can help reduce your child's carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet for future generations.

Instilling Values in Your Children

As parents, we're responsible for shaping our children's values and worldviews. By choosing sustainable shoes, you're teaching your little one the importance of caring for the environment and making conscious choices from an early age.

This mindset can have a lasting impact on their choices and actions throughout their lives, creating a ripple effect of positive change.

Long-lasting Quality

Sustainable shoes are often made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship, ensuring they last longer than their less eco-friendly counterparts. This means fewer shoe replacements and less waste in the long run.

While sustainable shoes may come with a slightly higher price tag initially, they're an investment in your child's health, the environment, and a durable product that withstands the test of time.

Best Shoes for New Walkers & Toddlers

Let’s dive in to our top picks for the best sustainable shoes for new walkers and toddlers, grouped by 8 important categories.

1. Soft Soles for Early Walkers

Soft-soled shoes are ideal for early walkers, as they mimic the natural movement of bare feet and allow for better sensory feedback from the ground. These shoes offer protection while still promoting healthy foot development.

woolybubs’ Newbie shoes were designed as a baby’s first pair of shoes — soft and breathable for those precious crawls, wobbles, and first steps.

Ethics: woolybubs shoes are made from a substance called PVOH polymer, which eventually breaks down to CO2 and water. You can re-use them, compost them, boil then drain them, or send them back.

2. Flexible Soles for Confident Walkers

Flexible soles provide support and protection for more confident walkers, while still allowing for natural foot movement.

Bobux’s First Walkers collection offers podiatrist-approved designs to accommodate the shape of the foot. The soft, non-slip soles support a 360 degree range of movement and provide grip and flexibility.

Ethics: Bobux ensures a fair living wage to all their shoe makers and over 50% of their products are shipped with recyclable packaging, with a goal to take this to 100%.

Tip: To measure your child's feet, use a ruler or measuring tape, and add around 1/4 inch (6mm) for growth. Check the brand's sizing chart to ensure a proper fit.

3. Durable Shoes for Outdoor Adventures

As your child becomes more adventurous, you'll need shoes that can withstand outdoor play while still providing comfort and support.

softstar’s Baby Rambler moccasins are handmade in Oregon with concealed elastic in the ankle seam, offering easy slip-on and off access while staying securely on the foot. The suede innersole and optional genuine sheepskin inserts provide moisture-wicking temperature regulation for year-round comfort.

Ethics: softstar is a B Corp Certified brand that uses sustainably sourced eco-friendly leather and Okeo-Tex Standard 100 certified wool. Their electricity is 100% sourced from wind and solar energy and upcycle their leather.

4. Supportive Shoes for Toddlers with Special Needs

Some children may require extra support or specific features in their shoes, such as those with wide or narrow feet or specific orthopedic needs.

Plae offers customizable shoes like the Ty model, which features removable insole, breathable mesh, and water-resistant nylon.

Ethics: Plae designs durable, eco-friendly shoes for children, promoting the resale of used shoes through the REWEAR collective, and using solar-powered factories, recycled materials, and water-based glues in their manufacturing process.

5. Water-Friendly Shoes

As little ones love to explore and splash around in puddles or play near water, it's essential to consider water-friendly shoes for new walkers and toddlers.

Native’s Jefferson Bloom Child shoes use quick-drying materials, have shock-absorbent soles, and provide a secure fit to ensure safety and comfort during water-based activities.

Ethics: Native Shoes crafted each pair of Jefferson Bloom using repurposed algae through Rise by Bloom technology, which helps restore clean air and water to the environment.

6. All-Season Versatile Shoes

With the ever-changing weather and various activities that toddlers engage in, having a versatile, all-season shoe option can be incredibly practical.

Vivobarefoot’s Primus Bootie II All Weather Toddlers offers insulation and protection during colder months, while also providing breathability and comfort during warmer days. A combination of durable materials (recycled polyester), snug fit with Velcro strap, and ultra-thin soles make these flexible shoes an excellent choice for year-round use.

Ethics: Vivobarefoot is B Corp Certified and their shoes are made from recycled materials, helping to reduce our waste to landfill.

7. Machine Washable, Everyday Shoes

Sometimes we want a shoe that has it all - good for your little one’s tiny feet, good for the planet, and just easy-peasy to clean.

Harts Brooklyn’s Park Boss Tan is the perfect indoor and outdoor slip-on for your baby's first steps. The breathable knit boot provides breathability and comfort and 100% machine washable.

Ethics: Hart’s Brooklyn makes each pair of shoes from sustainable materials — vegan leather and recycled plastic bottles.

8. Boots

Boots are designed to protect little feet during cold or wet weather conditions. They typically have a more rigid structure and higher collars to provide extra warmth, support, and protection.

Merry People’s Kids Rain Boot are 100% waterproof, 100% vegan, with flexible lining that provides arch support and snug fit for the tiny feet.

Ethics: Merry People gets our respect because of their complete transparency about their sustainability, while documenting their journey. They are testing sustainable materials for their insoles and their packaging is made from 80% recycled fiber and 20% virgin materials which is fully recyclable.

Final Thoughts

Finding the perfect shoes for your new walker or toddler can be a challenge, but with our list of sustainable options, you can feel confident in your choices.

The most important thing is to remember to prioritize flexible soles, proper fit, and eco-friendly materials when selecting shoes for your little one. By choosing sustainable brands, you're not only supporting your child's healthy feet development but also contributing to a better future for our planet.

The benefits of sustainable footwear extend far beyond the immediate satisfaction of finding the perfect fit; they contribute to a healthier, more equitable, and environmentally responsible world for all.


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