Before baby starts walking, leaving them in bare feet or socks is best for their development. At this point, the bones in baby’s feet are still soft. The bones don’t actually finish hardening until they’re about 5 years old.
Having flexibility is important as baby’s arch is developing, and there’s no real reason for shoes at all if baby isn’t walking.
When baby does start to walk, sometime around 1 year old, being barefoot is still best. Let them feel the floor with their feet and be able to easily grip with their toes.
When you do transition to shoes, a soft-soled, low-top shoe is best. That’s a far cry from the rigid high-tops we might have grown up with. However, the softer shoe will allow baby’s foot to form naturally and facilitate easier walking.
TIP 13-36 Months: If you want to keep track of your little one as they toddle around the house, try some of the baby shoes with built-in “squeakers.” If you can stand the squeak, you’ll always know where baby is!