A Guide to Choosing the Best Shoes For Pre-Walkers

A Guide to Choosing the Best Shoes For Pre-Walkers

When it comes to healthy foot development in babies it’s said that barefoot is best, but why? Bare feet allow for unrestricted movement and freedom to grow. Barefoot time for babies also helps proper muscle strengthening and sensory feedback from the ground, but as you know it’s not always possible, especially in our temperamental climate. Pre-walker shoes are a smart move as tiny toes need cosseting from the weather and protection from floors or flagstones as babies start to explore their surroundings by rolling or crawling. 

Our latest Inch Blue blog investigates the best shoes for pre-walkers that promote the natural development of your child’s little feet. It’s our complete guide to how feet develop in infants, asking are pre-walker shoes necessary and helping parents to promote natural foot growth.

Understanding pre-walking foot development


The feet of newborn babies are all softness for a reason. Most of their foot structure is cartilage, not bone, allowing for maximum flexibility during birth and the early days of exploration of the world around them. 
Babies find their feet by kicking and grasping. As little ones get closer to walking, at around 12 months, these soft structures gradually harden into bones through a process called ossification. This transformation, along with strengthening muscles and tendons, prepares your baby’s feet to support their weight and propel them forward. The flat pads on the soles of babies' feet start to disappear with arch formation, providing stability and shock absorption as they take their first wibbly wobbly baby steps.


Soft pre-walker shoes – the next best thing to going barefoot


Pre-walker shoes offer some advantages during a baby's pre-walking stage. These soft-soled supportive booties slip on and off with ease, providing protection for delicate feet from cold, bumps, and rough surfaces. When choosing shoes for your littlest ones, first pick out walker shoes that feel as close to bare feet as possible and are made from lightweight, breathable materials with a non-slip grip for confident crawling and cruising around furniture. Pre-walkers reduce slips and tumbles as your tot explores their world. Soft-soled shoes will bend easily and prioritise flexibility to mimic barefoot walking, allowing for natural movement, crucial for healthy development. 

Look out for pre-walker shoes that:

  • Feel comfortable with soft lightweight leather boy or baby girl shoes that feel soft and gentle on tiny toes, allowing for natural movement.


  • Stay on with elasticated collars to hug delicate ankles and keep shoes secure, even on wiggly feet.


  • Provide grip with suede or leather soles with anti-slip properties to help prevent tumbles as your baby explores their newfound mobility and features a grip to gain balance. 


  • Aid development with flexible soles that allow your pre-walking baby to feel the ground beneath them, an important first step for their balance and healthy foot development.


  • Offer style and choice in bold brights or nice neutrals like these woodland shoes for indoor or outdoor wear with fun animal appliques or natural prints to appeal to baby’s sense of joy and make wearing them fun.

Pitfalls to avoid in a pre-walker shoe selection


When it comes to what to miss, rigid soles or bulky shoes are a no-go as they can hinder natural development and your baby’s ability to feel the ground beneath their feet. Also avoid tight-fitting shoes that cramp tiny toes, or shoes with elevated heels or arch support. Don’t be tempted to scrimp with hand-me-down shoes passed down from older siblings. A proper unique fit for each child is crucial for their healthy foot growth.
To ensure a good fit, measure your baby's feet often and choose shoes with a wide opening to slip on and off easily. We’d recommend a thumb's width of space between the longest toe and the tip of the shoe to allow for airflow. Most importantly, ensure your baby's comfort and foot flexibility inside their pre-walkers. Look out for signs of rubbing, tightness, or difficulty taking steps. If anything seems off, opt for a different pair of baby shoes.

Pre-walker shoes from Inch Blue


Tiny toes don't need much in terms of structure and support, but they do deserve the best! From the off, build in barefoot time every day to help babies develop all their reflexes and strong foot muscles. When shoes are needed, prioritise your baby’s comfort and support above all else. Look for soft breathable leather with flexible soles for natural movement and suede soles for grip. Enjoy watching your baby’s journey from pulling themselves up to stepping forward unsupported. Our pre-walker Inch Blue shoes will help brand-new feet to feel happy and healthy as they grow in size and confidence!