How to shop for baby's first shoes

When shopping for little shoes, many of us go with what we know – we buy mini versions of our shoes, like thick-soled sandals with arch support, or tiny brand name sneakers with high-grip soles. If they work for us, they’ll work for our little ones, right? 

What we often don’t realise is that baby and toddler feet have unique needs as they grow and develop, and the wrong shoes can hamper their progress as they learn to walk and explore on their own.

First walker shoes should bend like this 

A flexible rubber sole supports the natural movement of the foot and allows a child to feel the contours of the ground beneath their feet, which in turn reduces falls.

Rubber soles are also wonderfully light-weight. A thick or solid sole puts unnecessary weight and tension on little muscles that are still developing and trying to learn new walking skills

Make sure their little shoes can bend like this and your little one will likely fall over less, they will get the hang of walking quicker, and their tiny muscles and feet will thank you.

One of these shoes is not like the other... 

The sandal on the right has:

X Stiff hard soles that inhibit natural foot movement
X Unnecessary arch support - Arch support is not recommended for first walkers unless prescribed by a professional
X Complicated buckles that can't be fastened independently
X Heavy materials that put extra strain on growing muscles
X Exposed toes that can be a trip hazard
X High-grip soles that increase falls by forcing a stop too suddenly

Two different sandals. One pictured with a tick, the other pictured with a cross

The sandal on the left has:

Fully-flexible rubber soles that mimic barefoot walking
✓ Zero drop for natural foot position
✓ Easy access Velcro
Ultra light-weight
Closed protective toe
Low-grip soles recommended for first-walkers. They allow a child to catch their balance without increasing falls.
✓ Podiatrist Endorsed

For first walkers, barefoot is best 

Research clearly shows that going barefoot gives kids the best possible start to walking. Babies and toddlers have naturally wide feet, so barefoot walking allows their toes to spread naturally as they learn to balance. Being barefoot helps their muscle development, strength, coordination and confidence. SO, when they do need to wear shoes, they need safe, developmentally-appropriate shoes that mimic the barefoot experience as closely as possible.

So many kids' shoes are just adult’s shoes in smaller sizes. They’re not designed with first walkers in mind and they restrict and compress precious little feet. The soles are thick, rigid and inflexible so they can’t feel the ground beneath them.

The fit can be too narrow, squashing tiny delicate toes together. And the soles are of often high-grip, which sounds helpful but can stop a first walker far too quickly, causing them to fall.

Billycart Kids shoes have been uniquely designed to mimic barefoot walking. And Australian podiatrists agree – all of our shoes come with the podiatrist tick of approval.

Loved by Australian parents 

"Hi, I’m Mandy. I’m a mum, and like so many Australian parents I had a tough time finding the right shoes for my little one.

We live in regional Queensland and we spend lots of time outdoors. I needed a durable, all-seasons shoe that wouldn’t restrict my adventurous daughter’s movement while she learned to balance and walk.
I searched high and low for shoes that were practical, hard-wearing, comfy, and most importantly, podiatrist approved. Oh, and shoes that were affordable – I learned first-hand how fast little feet can grow!

When I couldn’t find what I needed I set out to create them myself, and Billycart Kids was born.

The result: Our beautiful, affordable range of pre walker, first walker and toddler shoes, launched in 2020.

All of our shoes feature a wide fit that won’t squash toes, velcro straps so they’re easy to put on and take off, a flexible rubber non-slip sole so kids can feel the terrain under their feet, and a protective closed toe.

And the best part? All of the shoes in the Billycart Kids range have been approved and recommended by Australian podiatrists, so you can purchase with confidence, knowing you’re making the best choice for your child’s foot development".

As seen in... 

Since our launch we’ve won awards and been featured in the media, but the achievement we’re most proud of is the feedback from our customers.

Our shoes are loved by parents all over Australia as evidenced by an astounding (and growing) number of 5-star reviews, and parents frequently tell us their kids are walking better, falling less and growing in confidence since they started wearing our shoes.  

What our customers are saying... 

Not sure what size to buy?

It's easier than you think! 

Did you know that most Australian children's shoe brands have slightly different sizing? Department store brands can measure up to 1.5 sizes bigger.

It's important to measure every time you purchase new shoes to ensure the correct fit the first time.

Check our our Sizing Guide instructions below

What can you do in your Billycart shoes? 

✓ Explore the playground: With grippy, flexible, low-slip soles that promote balance and confidence

✓ Take off on messy adventures: With easy-wipe uppers and removable, machine-washable fabric insoles

✓ Run, play and climb all day: With a lightweight, ergonomic design and protective closed toes

We make little shoes to take you to exciting places...

Busting the myths around baby and toddler shoes 

Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about choosing the right shoes for your baby or toddler. 

‘I’ve bought name brand shoes for my toddler before, and they’re really expensive! That means they’re good, right?’ 

Unfortunately, not always. Neither the price of the shoe nor the brand name are indicators of quality when it comes to little feet. They might be well constructed, but that doesn’t mean they’re specifically designed for babies and toddlers. 

Many shoe brands are excellent at designing adult shoes, but unlike Billycart Kids they’re not first walker specialists. 

When assessing a shoe, take a look at the Billycart Kids shoe features above and undertake your own quality check. Can the soles be bent all the way back on themselves? Do they have a nice, wide fit and a closed toe? Are they lightweight and easy to run and jump in? 

‘Why don’t your shoes have arch support? Don’t babies and toddlers need arch support?’ 

Not in most cases, no. Arch support directly conflicts with the ‘barefoot is best’ principle. Babies and toddlers learn to walk best when they wear soft soles and can feel the ground beneath their feet. 

Unless arch support is prescribed by a professional for corrective purposes, shoes with flat, soft, flexible rubber soles are best. 

‘My kids spend lots of time outside, so they need thick, sturdy shoes. Won’t soft, lightweight shoes wear out too quickly?’ 

Thick and sturdy also means inflexible and heavy, which can make it much harder for babies and toddlers to learn to balance and walk. 

Billycart Kids shoes are lightweight (and much easier for little ones to walk in, with less strain on their muscles), but don’t let that fool you! 

We’ve specifically designed our shoes for outdoor adventures, and with their rubber soles, reinforced heels, quality materials and protective toes they’re long lasting and perfect for endless fun, both inside and out.