Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

September 6, 2022

Shoe Recommendations

By: Abby Morton, DPT

Is your little one starting to stand and take steps? It is time to think about shoes!

As a physical therapist, my recommendation is to allow your child to explore barefoot on all safe surfaces such as carpet, tile, hardwood, grass, sand, etc. This allows the feet to receive feedback from the ground, challenges the ankle muscles, challenges overall balance, facilitates good arch development, and many more great things as the feet grow. When barefoot is not an option, let us make sure we are putting those little feet in the most supportive and appropriate shoe.

Below are suggestions of what to look for in a shoe with picture examples. There are other shoe brands with great options available at varied prices.

Early and Mature Walking Shoes

  • heel cup with solid strap across ankle
  • wide toe box for toe movement and growth
  • firm sole
  • breathable
  • flexible shoe, not rigid


  • This is a good heel cup, solid strapping to secure the foot, firm but not rigid sole, and breathable

  • Another example of firm enough sole, breathable, and nice heel cup

  • Cute, but no heel cup. Not a good option.

  • This is a good option; firm sole but flexible structure

  • A solid sneaker, less flexibility for toe movement but supportive

Toddler’s Walking and Running Shoes

  • heel cup with solid strap across ankle
  • firm sole
  • Velcro for independence as long as it is supportive
  • moderate arch support in insert
  • breathable


  • This is a solid sole with supportive strapping, great summer sandal options

  • Also a great summer sandal option

  • Good sneaker option with firm sole, flexible structure for growth and some movement

  • Good sneaker, with arch support and firm sole