I was doing some research recently on shoe sizing for toddlers, and I kept seeing people mention “crib shoes.”
What are crib shoes? I had never heard of them before!
Why would a baby need shoes in a crib?
I had so many questions.
If you’re like me, and you’re wondering what the meaning of “crib shoes” is, here’s the best way I can explain them:
Crib shoes (or pram shoes) are soft shoes for newborns (0 to around 6-9 months) that serve two functions: Keeping an infant’s feet warm, and fashion.
There’s no medical or safety reason to use them, but a lot of parents just like the way they look or like the idea of covering their babies’ feet with a warm material.
(And if you’re looking for the best pair of unisex crib shoes that look good and should keep baby’s feet warm in the winter, I really like this pair over on Amazon.)
Should your baby wear shoes?
Shoes for infants are completely optional before they start walking.
(Most babies, though it varies a lot from kid to kid, will take their first steps between 9-12 months old. It’s perfectly normal for it to take less or more time than that!)
Crib shoes, however, are made for babies in the pre-walking and even pre-crawling stages. Crib shoes are best for babies who haven’t even started crawling yet, so they’ll usually be less than 6 months old or so.
Again, there’s no real functional, medical, or protective reason for your baby to wear crib or pram shoes, but they’re not harmful or dangerous in any way.
You might choose to get your baby a pair of crib shoes if:
- The nursery is cold (during the winter, poor insulation, draft room, etc.)
- You want to pair them with fashionable outfits while out and about in the stroller/pram
If the temperature isn’t a concern, it’s probably best to ditch the shoes.
When your baby is learning to crawl and experimenting with taking his or her first steps, barefoot is often best to help them get an excellent tactile feel of the ground, improve balance, and walk with correct posture.
Are crib shoes safe for babies while sleeping?
I’m not a doctor or any sort of health professional, but I would probably avoid leaving crib shoes on a baby while sleeping.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is such a frightening and poorly understood ailment, but general recommendations are to leave NOTHING extra in the crib with young infants while they sleep.
No blankets, no toys, no nothing. Crib shoes could feasibly slip off of their feet during sleep and become a potential threat.
It’s not a chance I would take.
(For overnights and keeping a newborn’s feet warm, just go with a good onesie or properly fitted socks.)
Crib shoes vs First walkers: What’s the difference?
At some point when your baby has started to become pretty good at walking, it makes sense to outfit them in shoes meant for early walkers.
(These shoes are sometimes called ‘first walkers’)
It’s pretty hilarious watching babies get used to their first walking shoes! It definitely throws them off a little bit at first, but it becomes necessary to protect their feet when they start walking more and more, and can even walk outside.
So what’s the difference between crib shoes and first walkers? Well:
- Crib shoes are soft and do not have a firm or grippy bottom
- Crib shoes are really meant for relatively stationary babies
- Crib shoes are designed to fit newborns to babies around 6-9 months old
- First walkers have a firmer, grippier bottom for extra stability and protection when walking
- First walkers are really best for somewhat accomplished walkers. (Kids and young toddlers who can walk outside, for example.)
What to look for in a pair of baby crib shoes
If you want to pick up a pair (or a few pairs!) of shoes for an infant, here are just a couple things to keep in mind when you’re shopping:
Soft, soft, soft!
You don’t want your newborn or infant wearing hard sole shoes. In fact, experts now say children shouldn’t be in hard sole shoes a majority of the time until they’re over a year old (15 months or so).
The bones and muscles in their feet need room to grow and take shape on their own without being restricted. Plus, their sense of touch is one of the primary ways they interact with the world at a young age.
When you buy crib shoes, just make sure they’re soft, flexible, and don’t have a hard or firm bottom.
When in doubt, double check the suggested age range of the shoes before you buy.
A search on Amazon for “crib shoes” will actually bring up a mix of crib shoes, first walkers, toddler shoes, etc. So just make sure you’re being extra thorough reviewing each product before you pull the trigger!
Just because it popped up when you searched doesn’t mean it’s designed for or safe for your baby.
This is really the primary reason people buy crib shoes (or pram shoes)… for fashion. If your baby has a couple of outfits you really like that might look a little better with shoes instead of just socks, feel free to match them up.
There’s no harm in using a soft sole shoe sometimes for a newborn that’s relatively stationary. It likely will keep their feet warm and comfortable, plus it’ll look cute!
Just remember that when they start crawling and experimenting with the idea of walking, it’s best to leave them barefoot most of the time.
What about socks for crawling babies? Do newborn babies need to wear socks?
Socks are an excellent choice for newborns, crawlers, and early walkers.
(Older babies may need grippy or non-skid socks for a better grip. Socks keep their feet warm and protected, plus have a good surface for traction, without taking away the tactile feel their feet get from the ground when learning to move around.)
Socks for newborns are especially important for temperature regulation, as newborns lose a lot of heat through their feet.
Just be sure not to buy socks that are too tight. A good rule of thumb is you should be able to fit a finger between the sock band and your baby’s ankle.
Whew! There is really a lot to think about when it comes to shoes for kids. There’s crib shoes, pre-walkers, first walkers, toddler shoes, and everything in between.
To summarize, crib shoes are totally optional, soft sole shoes that babies can wear to keep their feet warm or to match with certain outfits.
If you’re wondering where to go from here, I spent some time finding a good-looking pair of warm, unisex baby crib shoes that should go with a lot of different outfits for boys and girls, while keeping their feet cozy!
In general, these kinds of shoes aren’t designed for or particularly helpful for babies when crawling or learning to walk. And they probably aren’t a great idea for overnight sleeping (just go with a onesie or pajamas and fitted socks).
Once your baby starts to move around on the floor on his or her own, make sure you go barefoot most of the time (or grippy socks) so you don’t take away from the tactile feel he needs as he learns to coordinate his movements.
You can move your baby into hard sole shoes more of the time when he or she is an accomplished walker who needs protection from walking outside or on obstacles, or really any time after 15 months old or so.
I hope this helps, parents!