How to Get your Baby to Wear Shoes
Providing children with repetition and consistency is key to teaching them most behaviors as it creates comfort and a general sense of expectation for them. The earlier you can expose your child to shoes the better. Anywhere between 3-6 months is best to start. Start off with soft-soled shoes because the idea of wearing shoes at this age is just exposure, not having them stand up or trying to walk. Soft-soled shoes will not impact your child’s foot growth, but should not be worn all day, rather only when going out.
Hard-soled shoes should not be used until your baby is able to walk while holding on (with furniture or onto an adult’s hand). Also, it is recommended to not force your baby to stand up (while wearing shoes or not) until they are able to stand on their own (7-13 months) as that may cause their feet to turn inward even more than is typical and can cause more stress on the hips.
The explanation of wearing shoes is also important. Telling your baby, “we are putting our shoes on to protect our feet when we leave our home,” is important to say every time you put shoes on. Also narrating to your baby when you put your shoes on also helps model to your baby that you put shoes on too when going out- “[caregiver name] puts shoes on too.”
There are several reasons why a baby might take their shoes off:
1) Kids may like the idea of holding their shoes, so providing them with something else to hold instead (like a lovey, or a teething toy) would help.
2) They may be testing you. So again, bending down to their level (or squatting down while they are in their stroller) and explaining “we keep our shoes on to protect our feet,” and then modeling as well “I have to keep shoes on so my feet don’t get cold (etc.) while walking.”
3) Sensory difficulties. Some babies and children are sensitive to different textures. Having something breathable and using socks may help if this is the case.