If your child hasn’t made a big drama when you were putting (or rather trying to put) on his/her first shoes, you can consider yourself very lucky. Most mums freak out when their toddler won’t wear shoes (including me) but what they probably don’t realize is that it is very common situation.
Introducing shoes means your baby can no longer act like a little Tarzan… so imagine how frustrating that must be for him! He’s probably thinking you are trying to take away his freedom and there’s no way he will let this happen!
Your little one will run away, cry, scream or everything at once, and it’s not fun for us at all, especially when you’re in a hurry.
But fear not, I’m gonna give you some helpful tips on how to convince your toddler to start liking what’s on his tiny feet.
1. Pretend you don’t care
It’s really important for your child to associate wearing shoes with something fun and enjoyable. If you show determination or any sign of anxiety about the shoes, your little drama queen will make a big fuss about it. Instead of stressing out about him/her refusing to wear them, just don’t make a big deal out of it.
I suggest putting the shoes somewhere close to your toddler so that he could explore the new item and then explain to him what these are made for. You could also take your own shoes and demonstrate how to use them (remember about a happy face while you’re doing that!).
Now you can gently slip on one of the baby shoes on top of his foot so he could get the idea but don’t force it for now. Just leave them lying around, even for your little one to play with. Soon he may surprise you by showing the interest in them and even asking you to put them on.
2. Distract your toddler
Other way to make your child wear those shoes is to simply distract him. Show him a video he likes, give him a snack, play peekaboo, give favourite toy- whatever gets his attention. If your partner (grandma or a nanny) is around, use him to put the shoes on while you are playing the clown. Chances are he won’t even notice that you are trying to trick him.
3. Make sure first shoes have soft soles
Kids almost always reject hard soles probably because soft soles are much more comfy and feel like wearing socks. But, unfortunately we can’t get away with using socks all the time, especially in colder months.
Soft sole shoes are apparently easier to wear. They will give your toddler much better flexibility and mimic barefoot movement. So leave the harder soled shoes for later.
Stride Rite is a great brand to start with. It’s well-known on the toddlers shoe market.
If your toddler loves wearing socks and won’t wear anything else, go for the Robeez– this American brand is known for the super-soft soles; however they might be a better choice if your baby just begins to walk and still practices indoors.
4. Choose straps or zips instead of laces
Little shoes with laces might be cute but not so practical as first choice for your baby. You are already struggling with putting any kind of shoes on those tiny feet, so you don’t need a double job by trying to do those annoying, short laces. Plus, they do tend to undo very often, so you’ve got another reason to go for a strap/ buckle or zip finish.
Another thing that actually solved problem with my daughter and her stubbornness was the type of shoes. I bought her really nice ankle shoes (with laces!) because she took her first steps just before autumn started. She refused wearing them for a good couple of weeks, screaming in horror to that point I thought the shop assistant must have chosen the wrong (maybe too small) size for her.
So, I decided to buy one more pair of different type of shoes and see how it goes. I chose high-quality Bobux brand because they’re great for kids with high instep (so they’re easier to put), plus their shoes are made of leather and look really sturdy (and cute!). They have shoes suitable for different ‘walking’ stages of your little one so it’s worth checking out their website first to be sure you’re buying the right shoes.
Although not fully adequate to the weather, my baby girl loved them! Miracle has happened and I was able to put them without any fuss. 2 or 3 weeks after she got used to those lower ankle sneakers, I was able to convince her to put the other pair of ankle shoes I bought for her originally.
5. Choose the right size
This seems like an obvious advice but I assure you it is not. Many parents don’t realize the importance of picking the right size of the first baby walking shoes (the right support for developing feet is super important). So they buy two or three sizes up just to last them for longer. But it’s definitely not worth saving money on your toddles’ well-being: wrong sizing might lead to future orthopaedic issues and be ultimately the reason your child refuses to wear the shoes in first place.
Although it’s best to visit a shoe store where somebody experienced will help you to choose the right size, it’s not always possible to go there (maybe you live too far from the shopping mall) and you are left with an online option. It’s still possible to do it at home; you will need a piece of paper, pen, a ruler or a measuring tape.
Put a white A4 paper on the floor and make your baby stand on it in a straight position, preferably by the wall. Now draw a line around the foot, making sure the tiny toes aren’t curled up during the process.
Now measure your piece of ‘foot art’ from heel to the longest toe (it’s not always the first toe). Your first measurement will probably be around 11-13 cm, meaning an EU size between 19-21 or UK between 3-4 (for more accurate measurement have a look at baby’s shoe size chart).
Voila, you’ve got your baby shoe size!
Another important matter is the width. Many babies are chubby (or were simply born with hobbit feet, like my baby girl!) so they will need wider shoes. Clarks offers good-quality selection of shoes with Standard (F) and Wide(G) option.
6. Let your child pick
Let’s face it, your toddler is already acting like a little dictator- but in this situation I’m afraid you have to let him. Otherwise, you’ll be the one suffering; as far as I’m concerned he doesn’t care if he has shoes on or goes barefoot- but surely you do!
That’s why, if your child is big enough to understand or has grown enough to develop his own taste (and apparently it’s quicker than we think), let him decide which shoes he will wear. He doesn’t like dull brown colour and prefers Batman print? Let him have it. She likes the shoes with red Minnie Mouse on? Go for it. Anything to please your baby!
All in all…
Don’t stress out and don’t get frustrated with your baby if you tried all the tips above and he still doesn’t want to wear any shoes. Some kids simply need more time to adjust to this new situation.
If your toddler is beginning to walk during warm spring or summer months- great, you can still let him play outside with bare feet or with socks on (make sure they’re anti-slippery though).
If it happens to be cold autumn or winter months then well…your child will soon find out he has to stay inside of the pram whenever you take him out of the house and eventually understand there’s no running around on a playground without having the shoes on.
Good luck mamas!