Our son has started walking. It's a drunken-sailor type of wobble but it's a walk nevertheless and he prefers it to crawling.


As well as the extra bumps and bruises from his tumbles, one of the considerations now is footwear, for until now he's worn just socks or been barefoot.


Choosing the right first pairs of shoes is akin to dummies, weaning and tummy time. What you do now can have long-lasting effects.


I went to the Auckland Mama Market last weekend and of the 25 stalls selling maternity, baby and children's goods there were three baby-shoe retailers selling a variety of colourful shoes for cruisers and walkers.

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What they all had in common was that they were soft-soled, flexible and offered suitable protection from the elements - even more important now that winter is coming.


First off, your non-walking baby does not need shoes as they can get in the way of your child developing mobility.


Socks, booties and soft-soled baby shoes are useful for warmth, but bare feet are fine.


When looking for your child's first pair it's important to do some research. Are the shoes you are considering the right kind? Will they offer the right support? How do you know what size to get?


If shopping from a bricks and mortar store or from an online store at a market, make sure you get the shoe fitted to your child's foot. You can still shop online and get the correct pair.


Two Little Feet, like all reputable kids' shoe companies, offers a comprehensive FAQ on its website to help make a choice.


It's important that little feet are shod in good-fitting spacious shoes to allow your child's feet to grow properly. Your child's foot will probably grow two full sizes each year for the first four or five years - this means they can grow out of their shoes very quickly.


Children cannot feel when their shoes are too small as the cartilage in a child's feet doesn't solidify into bone until about 5 years of age. Until such time, the soft cartilage can be moulded, so a child can wear shoes that are too small with little discomfort.

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Check the fit regularly. Don't put them in the next size up before they need it as this can lead to excessive rubbing causing calluses, or possibly cause the child to develop claw toes as they try to hold on to their shoes.


Two Little Feet recommends measuring your child's foot length every six to eight weeks to make sure their shoes are allowing plenty of room for their little feet to wriggle and grow.


It also says many parents worry their child appears to have flat feet, but this is normal when they first start walking.


This is partly due to posture and partly deposits of fat which make the foot look flat. When a babies walks, they have to balance a relatively large and unwieldy head on a short torso. So they walk with the knees bent, legs wide apart and feet turned outwards. Also, the nervous control of gait is still being learned and all of these factors combine to give a flat-footed appearance.


Young walkers can also look pigeon-toed. If you have any concerns, see your doctor as they are easier to correct when young.


There are many shoes to choose from. Check www.twolittlefeet.co.nz, www.moppet.co.nz, or www.thislittlepiggy.net.nz among others.