Toddler Shoe Shopping Secrets

Secret number one: Know what your toddler’s foot needs.

Dr. Michael Pliskin, chief of podiatry at North Shore University Hospital, dishes up some toddler shoe-buying advice in the March 2008 Newsday article, “Proper Shoes Give Toddlers Good Footing.” Pliskin says that toddler shoes should “mimic the child being barefoot.” Look for shoes, he says, with the following characteristics:

  • flexible upper
  • room for growth with no tight spots or rubbing
  • made of a breathable material like canvas or leather
  • thin, flexible sole made of rubber or leather

What’s not important? Ankle support. Even arch support doesn’t matter much, he says, since toddlers’ feet are pretty flat. When your child becomes a preschooler, she walks differently, says Pliskin, and will require a different type of shoe.

Secret number 2: Don’t pay more than $25 for a pair of toddler shoes.

Here are a few shoe brands that fit the bill and fit your budget:

Robeez & Robeez knockoffs: Soft leather shoes with soft leather soles. They fit kids with wide feet, too. Name brands like Robeez and Bobux cost up to $30, but you should never have to pay that much. Sales throughout the year allow you to pick up a pair of Robeez for under $20. Robeez knockoffs, available at Target, for example, will run you about $15. Amazon has frequent discounts. Right now you can find a decent selection of Robeez starting at $14.89.

Pediped is another popular choice, though a bit pricier. Also fine for kids with wide feet, Pediped features a leather sole that’s a bit thicker than that of Robeez-style shoes. They don’t go on sale as often. When they do, you’ll rarely save more than 15% off the $30-ish price. I have seen them for under $25.

Stride Rite refers to their line of flexible infant toddler footwear as “stage 2.” More structured than either Robeez or Pediped (and less like going barefoot), Stride Rite Stage 2 shoes come in actual sizes rather than age ranges. The shoes can cost a whopping $45 new. It’s VERY easy to find Stride Rites under $20. The pair shown here is $19.99 at Amazon, where you’ll find stage 2 shoes as low as $14.89 right now.

Other appropriate–and way cute–options are Pedoodles and See Kai Run. But please don’t pay more than $25 for a pair of shoes your kids will outgrow in two months just because they’re trendy.

What are your best toddler shoe shopping secrets?

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  1. carrie says:

    For walking toddlers, the Robeez Stage 2 shoes hold up MUCH better than Pedipeds, which stay functional but look like crap almost immediately.

    For any shoes size 5 or under, be sure to check your local consignment shop first. I run one in Brooklyn and we usually have a bunch of infant shoes in like new condition, since kids outgrown them so quickly at that age. (It gets harder to find good used everyday shoes as they get older.)