Do you want to support your child's upright gait and help them learn to walk? Then you should take a closer look at baby walking shoes. With their help, your child will be optimally supported while learning to walk. Many parents swear by the positive properties of baby walking shoes. But what are the different models and how can you find the right shoes for your child?
In our baby walker test 2022, we present the best and highest-quality models from various categories in more detail. In addition, we inform you about important details and give you helpful tips along the way. Whether you are interested in baby slippers with a firm or minimal sole, or in toddler shoes, you will find the best baby slippers on the market.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Baby Slippers in the United Kingdom: Our Picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying baby walking shoes
- 5 Decision: What types of baby slippers are there and which are the right ones for you?
- 6 Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate baby walking shoes
- 7 Facts worth knowing about baby slippers
- Baby slippers are your child's first shoes. As soon as the child can stand on two legs, the upright gait should be encouraged.
- Depending on the intended use, a basic distinction is made between crawling shoes, runner shoes with a firm sole and runner shoes with a minimal sole.
- Apart from the size and width of the shoe, you should also compare the shoes on the basis of the material, the sole and the type of closure.
The Best Baby Slippers in the United Kingdom: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying baby walking shoes
What should I consider before buying?
The type of sole, the material and the size are the most important criteria when buying.
How much do baby walking shoes cost?
However, the price should be as secondary as possible, as the shoes have to fit and should not negatively influence foot development. Inexpensive shoes, regardless of quality, are available from around €20, with hardly any upper limit.
What brands are there?
- Wildling Shoes
How long do baby slippers fit?
Toddler shoes often only last a few months, but from about size 23 (toddler) the shoes can be worn longer. Of course, buying shoes also depends on the seasons; in winter, you need lined shoes, in summer, sandals for beginners.
The wrong size of shoes can quickly deform the feet. Therefore, avoid buying the wrong children's shoes.
Buying second-hand baby shoes?
This is because they cannot usually be exchanged if they do not fit. The probability of finding the right size is also rather low. Another aspect is hygiene. Unlike clothes, shoes cannot be cleaned hygienically.
How do I find the right size?
Please draw both feet. Many children naturally have two feet of different sizes and this is the only way you can be sure that the shoes will not be too small and pinch. Once you have drawn the feet, take a ruler and measure from the end of the foot (heel) to the end of the longest toe.
Now add 12mm for small feet or beginner runners and 17mm for larger feet or experienced runners. Then simply take the correct size from the manufacturer's chart. The following is a sample table:
Please note that the table is a rough guide and does not necessarily correspond to the actual size. However, many manufacturers have a separate size chart on their website that you should follow.
Some manufacturers even have templates you can print out. Pay attention to the scale when printing, i.e. to the indicated scale.
- Shoe sizes are not standardised
- Every manufacturer has its own size and shoes come in different sizes. So don't follow any chart, only the manufacturer's chart
- Do not press on the outside of the shoe to find the right size. This is not a reliable method.
- The shoe may look too big, but this is sometimes because we are used to seeing shoes that are too small on children's feet
Decision: What types of baby slippers are there and which are the right ones for you?
There are three types of baby slippers:
- Toddler shoes
- Toddler shoes with a firm sole
- Toddler shoes with a minimal sole
When choosing baby slippers, there are a few factors that matter. How old is the child? Which materials are preferred? Has the child been crawling so far or is he already walking? I would like to take a closer look at these different factors below, as well as listing advantages and disadvantages.
For which children are crawling shoes suitable and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Crawling shoes are ideal for children who are still exploring the world on all fours. Such shoes usually resemble slippers and ensure that the tender feet stay warm and are protected.
Orthopaedists recommend that children avoid wearing sturdy shoes for as long as possible because many shoes constrict their small feet. It is still healthiest to let the little ones walk barefoot. However, this is often not possible and flexible and soft crawling shoes are then required.
On the whole, shoes for crawling children differ in material and type of fastening. Soft leather crawling shoes, for example, are particularly suitable because they adapt to the foot and are very light. Nevertheless, they provide the necessary support when it matters and prevent slipping away with a roughened sole.
We recommend crawling shoes with an elastic band, as these are often easy to put on and do not constrict. Shoes with laces, on the other hand, are rather uncomfortable. Many of the crawling shoes are not suitable for outdoors. In this case, it is advisable to use outdoor shoes.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of hard-soled baby walking shoes?
Once the first steps have been taken, things usually happen very quickly. The little ones run everywhere and explore their surroundings. Then crawling shoes are usually no longer enough, because they are often designed for indoors. For the first trips outdoors, you should therefore resort to baby slippers.
There are many differences in the fit, the material and of course the design, although this should be of secondary importance. When it comes to the fit, you should make sure that the shoe is not constricting. With some models, the shoe is not high enough for small, clumsy feet.
This constricts the foot in the long term. The right length is also important. Baby slippers should be about 12mm longer than the foot, measured at the longest toe.
It is important to note that shoes for beginning slippers should not be too firm or stiff. The sole should basically only protect the foot. Otherwise, children's movement is quickly impaired and there is an increased risk of falling.
Learning to walk is quite intuitive. Children feel the surface they are walking on, balance and perceive feedback. However, this is undisturbed by many shoes with too firm a sole.
In addition, children should wear crawling shoes during the transition from crawling to walking. At least as long as they are only moving around in them. In general, baby walkers should only be worn outside, as walking barefoot is still the better choice.
What makes minimal-sole baby slippers and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Minimal shoes or barefoot shoes are very flexible and usually thin shoes that do not constrict children's feet. In the meantime, there is also a large selection and many differences in this area.
Barefoot shoes are not called that because you walk barefoot in them. The name is due to the walking technique. In barefoot shoes, your child can walk with a natural ball gait, whereas some other shoes are so stiff that only the heel gait is possible.
Baby slippers with minimal soles allow the feet to develop naturally and the muscles to grow steadily. Whereas shoes that are too firm cause the muscles to break down because, simply put, they don't have to do anything. Did you know that even running athletes are increasingly wearing barefoot shoes? The risk of injury is significantly minimised because you have a better body feeling in shoes with a minimal sole.
You can often recognise shoes with a minimal sole by the fact that they are very light, have no heel, have a very thin sole and usually imitate the natural shape of the foot. Barefoot shoes are not necessarily the familiar toe shoes or swimming shoes.
Good to know
When looking at product descriptions, you should always pay attention to the exact designation. Crawling shoes and baby slippers or slippers and baby shoes are not the same thing, as can be seen from the description of the types above.
However, the names are important because baby shoes, for example, are not suitable for beginners. On the other hand, shoes with a firmer sole are unsuitable for crawling children.
Furthermore, the choice of first shoes should be made carefully, as studies have shown that only a quarter of kindergarten children have healthy feet. This is mostly due to incorrect footwear.
Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate baby walking shoes
Using the following criteria, we would like to show you which factors you should look out for when buying baby slippers. You can use these to compare and evaluate the baby slippers and thus make a more accurate purchase decision.
The following criteria are decisive:
- Are the shoes water-repellent?
- Upper and lining
- Shoe sole
- Shoe width
In the following, we will go into more detail about the buying criteria so that they can be better classified.
The right size of shoes is one of the most important buying criteria you should pay attention to. Shoes that are too small can deform healthy feet and cause long-term damage. Shoes that are too big, on the other hand, increase the risk of falling and can also be uncomfortable.
Baby walker shoes start as early as size 17. However, it is important to remember that there is no European standard for the sizes of children's shoes. So they can be completely different. However, the respective manufacturers usually have size tables on their websites that can be used to reliably determine which size is actually required.
The old trick of pressing your thumb on the shoe and determining whether it fits is outdated and unreliable. Often the little ones then pull in their toes. That's why it's better to either have your feet measured on a special board or to draw them yourself. You can find out more about this above under "How do I find the right size?
Are the shoes water-repellent?
Whether shoes are water-repellent and/or dirt-repellent usually depends on the material and whether a membrane has been incorporated. However, it is not always important that the shoes are water-repellent.
If you buy your child a pair of baby shoes in the summer, they are often airy sandals, which tend to be open anyway. During the rest of the year, it depends on what is important to you. In winter, water-repellent shoes can be very practical, especially when there is snow, dry feet are important. Children love jumping in puddles, so a good shoe should be able to cope with that too.
Most shoes can be waterproofed afterwards if they are made of leather or fabric. Sometimes, however, the seams will not be completely tight and it has to be weighed out.
Commercially available rubber boots are completely inadvisable. These are not suitable for novice slippers unless they have a minimum sole. The normal rubber boots are mostly stiff and cut very high, which means that the muscles do not have to work properly.
Overall, rubber boots are often so stiff that natural movement is impossible. Furthermore, many rubber boots are not ventilated, i.e. they do not let any air in. This makes the feet sweat very quickly.
If you still want rubber boots, there are now companies that specialise in minimal rubber boots, one of which is "Grand Step", for example.
Baby slippers do not prevent falls. There is also a high number of accidents that can be attributed to baby slippers. The Professional Association of Paediatricians and Adolescents (BVKJ) records around 6000 accidents with baby slippers every year.
Upper material and lining
The materials of the shoes often determine how flexible the shoes are, whether they are water-repellent and dirt-repellent, how easy they are to put on, how robust and insensitive they are and, of course, how they look.
Leather as an upper material, for example, provides good climate control and ensures that the shoes are robust. Many leather shoes can withstand a lot, even if they are scratched. After using grease or shoe polish, they look almost new again.
When choosing the inner lining, make sure that no material is used that leads to excessive sweating. In winter, warming materials are recommended on the inside, such as sheep's wool. This keeps you particularly warm, but at the same time ensures that your feet do not sweat.
Next to the right size, the sole of the shoe is the most important criterion. The wrong sole can lead to deformation of the feet, sometimes followed by back pain and deformities. Basically, the sole only has to protect against injuries and wetness. The foot can develop in the best possible way and grow in a natural shape if the sole is as flexible and minimal as possible.
With flexible sides, the muscles have to work, which means they develop better, as do the tendons. In the past, it was assumed that a shoe had to be as firm as possible in order to provide support. In the meantime, however, this assumption has been disproved. Walking barefoot is still the healthiest way, so as long as it is not too cold, shoes should not be worn indoors.
If it is too cold, stopper socks are often sufficient. It is also important to make sure that the sole of the shoe is non-slip, otherwise there is an increased risk of falling. If you have a leather sole, roughened leather is a good idea.
The smaller the feet are, the wider they usually are. If the shoes are too narrow, the feet will be too constricted, and even the right size won't help. Therefore, the shoe width should be at least normal. Barefoot shoes and shoes with minimal soles are usually so flexible that there is no need to worry about the shoe width.
There are different types of closures for baby slippers, most often they are laces, Velcro, zips or a combination of two. The choice of fastener also depends on the age of the child.
If the children are still very small, well-tied laces can be advantageous, as they adapt to the feet. The only thing to watch out for is that the laces do not hang down, otherwise a child could fall over them.
If the little ones are already older and starting to put on and take off their shoes themselves, then Velcro fasteners are ideal. These can often be opened and closed by little ones themselves and make handling easier.
For toddlers, a combination of laces and zips can also be ideal. If the laces are loose, the zip can be closed first and then the laces can be tightened. In this way, the shoe adapts. Nevertheless, older children can then take the shoes off on their own, which promotes independence. Opening the zip is often enough.
Facts worth knowing about baby slippers
How did the baby walker come to Germany?
Pretty much everyone knows them: Elefanten shoes. Elefanten shoes are not only the best-known baby slippers, they were also one of the first.
As early as 1896, two gentlemen (Gustav Hoffmann and Fritz Pannier) founded a factory in Kleve that exclusively produced children's shoes. Until then, children's shoes were simply smaller versions of shoes for adults, which were not adapted to small feet.
In 1928 Gustav Hoffmann bought the brand "Elefanten" and developed it into a quality brand for children's shoes. By the early 1950s, every third German child was wearing Elefanten shoes.
After years of research and measuring thousands of children's feet, the so-called "el chico" was produced in 1964 and became the best-selling baby walker in the world. In 2004, Deichmann bought the "Elefanten" brand with the aim of continuing to sell high-quality shoes at smaller prices.
What should you do if your child doesn't want to have his or her feet measured?
Try to playfully sweeten the process for your child. Simply draw each other's feet and then maybe even colour them together. Or make an exciting moment out of it by placing your child on a table, a chair or even on a windowsill where he or she can observe everything well.
Another option is to just be silly and make your child laugh while a second person quickly paints off their feet.
What gaits are there and what is the difference, which one is better?
There are two gaits: the ball gait and the heel gait. With heel gait, the heel first touches the ground, which means that the impact forces are not dampened and thus affect the musculoskeletal system. With the ball gait, on the other hand, the front foot first touches the ground, the gait is then lighter and absorbs the impact.
According to a study by Karen Adolph, toddlers take about 2400 steps per hour and cover 700 metres in the process. Calculated over the course of a day, this is the equivalent of 7 football fields.
The ball gait is the natural one, the original one. Nevertheless, most adults walk with the heel gait. This is simply due to shoes that are too stiff, even in childhood. If you look at people who always walk barefoot or with minimal shoes, you will notice that they predominantly walk with the healthier ball gait.
That is why it is important that your child wears more flexible and thinner baby walking shoes.
Picture credits: Alexas_Photos / pixabay.com