Photo by Little Hoboken Photography
While some doctors recommend your child not wear shoes as long as possible, that is not always a possibility in an urban environment. Our kids walk way more, and in far less sanitary conditions than most suburban kids. When using our public playgrounds and parks, it is usually in everyone's best interest for our children to wear shoes, so, we researched the best shoes to promote proper foot growth.
Note: While this contains some affiliate links, it did not affect which shoes were listed and recommended when making the list. This list is based on the weight of the shoe, its flexibility, traction, and the shape of the toe box.
Freshly Picked - Extremely lightweight, the soft leather imitates being barefoot, and they come in a huge variety of patterns and colors. These shoes are also great for crawlers.
Livie and Luca - These shoes are lightweight and breathable. They also feature a wide toe box to accommodate for wiggling toes and a flexible sole to allow a full range of a motion.
Momo Baby Mary Jane (also Momo Baby Boy Sneaker) - The rubber soles on these shoes have a deep tread pattern to increase slip resistance, while the fan shaped toe box resembles the shape of a child's foot allowing the big and small toe to move freely.
Pediped Originals - For the beginner walker, the leather soles have a new diamond tread that is more slip resistant. It also allows toes to feel and grip the floor.
Pediped Grip and Go Mary Jane and Grip and Go Sneaker- This is specially designed for children transitioning from early walking to walking more confidently. It has a soft rubber sole, rounded edges, and a soft toe box that allows toes to curl and grip the floor.
Robeez - Good for crawling and early walking, the elasticized band makes it difficult to fall off. Flexible upper, lining, and sole allows the toes to feel and grip the floor.
Saucony Baby Jazz - Lightweight with a suede and mesh upper for stability and durability, this shoe comes in regular and wider sizes so you can truly get the perfect fit for your toddler.
Saucony Baby Ride 9 - This shoe comes in Regular, Wide and X-Wide. It has a lightweight leather and mesh upper, as well as, a flexible sole.
See Kai Run Stevie II Sneaker - Offers a wider fit for toes to move freely and has a cotton jersey upper with a leather lined insole for exceptional comfort. Super flexible rubber bottoms provide great traction and durability. The Stevie II model has a baby version as well as a Toddler and Big Kid version.
Stride Rite Soft Motion Sneaker - These shoes are "built to encourage natural movement," and contain memory foam with an easy-on design.
Stride Rite SR-Tech - Like the Soft Motion Sneaker, this shoe has memory foam, but also a sturdier structure for toddlers who walk a bit more confidently, and on varied terrain.