Once your baby starts taking their first steps the, “Yes! Now I can finally buy little shoes!" moment happens. Inevitably you'll venture into the kid's shoe section of the store and become overwhelmed by the amount of cuteness. Before you know it you're splurging on tiny soles that look insanely cute, but may not help so much with their developing feet. It's a dilemma we face with our everyday purchases too, right? Style versus function. Los Angeles Pediatrician, Dr. Monica Asnani "encourages toddlers to go barefoot while indoors whenever possible because they can grip the floor or carpet with their toes and achieve better balance than while wearing shoes." So if your little is just starting to pull themselves up to stand, you don't need shoes yet. You want to let their toes "curl, wiggle, bend, and spread to work the small muscles of their feet" - Natasha Burget, MD. Once they've started the cruising-the-furniture phase, things move pretty quickly from there. Soon they'll be ready for short walks outside, and that's when you want to protect the bottoms of their feet, thus shoe shopping begins! Keep in mind that not all shoes are made with your toddler's developing feet in mind. So while those teeny Toms (that come in so many fun colors, sequins, and designs) look really cute, it's not so fun for our little explorers when their feet start slipping out from the backs, or they're tripping from a stiff sole. Our recommendation is to put those on the back burner for when they've become confident walkers! They'll be there in no time. So let's talk shoes, in stages... Cruising / First Walker: They're going to be curious about their new shoes, so staying away from anything with laces, that they can untie, and velcro that they can quickly undo is best avoided. Elasticized backs are key at this stage too because they'll help keep shoes on. At this stage you definitely want "a shoe with a soft, flexible sole (that you can bend easily back and forth) and a nonskid sole." (Dr. Monica Asnani). The all leather moccasin type shoes are very popular during this stage because it's the closest to being barefoot that they can be while still being protected. Check out just a few faves from the below that are perfect for this stage, and quite stylish! Style Picks: 1. stitches & soles, 2. Li'l Aussie Shoe Co., 3. hello moccs Confident / Exploring: During this stage, they'd rather be walking than sitting in a stroller. They're not holding onto furniture much, and they're going for it, smiling, giggling and almost running with every rapid step they're taking. You can still keep them in leather sole shoes because they'll still find them just as comfortable, just beware that they're going to wear a lot quicker now that they're more mobile. Now you can move onto rubber soles, which opens up a whole new variety of shoes to shop for. “When shopping for toddler shoes, bend the shoe in half. The shoe should bend in the middle. If the shoe bends at the “ball" of the foot, then there is some arch support in the shoe. A toddler will walk stiffly and unnaturally in a shoe with arch support, so look for a different shoe" - Natasha Burget, MD. P.S. Bobux has a great image below each of their shoes to show their sole's flexibility which comes in handy. Style Picks: 4. Bobux, 5. Joojos, 6. Tip Toey Joey Running / Full time walker: There's no particular age for this stage because everyone develops at their own rate, but you'll know when they've reached it because you'll hardly be able to catch up with them! You can buy those cute little Toms now, and pretty much every shoe you see out there. It's always good to take your kids shoe shopping with you though. Have them try on a pair and walk around the store to see how comfortable they walk in them. Comfort should still be key! Last thing you want is for them to cry of blisters. Style Picks: 7. See Kai Run, 8. Camper, 9. Dr Marten's Happy shoe shopping!