Those tentative, faltering first steps ... magical moments to be treasured forever! Thoughts naturally turn to protecting their precious little feet, however, there is no rush to put them in shoes.
Walking barefoot or in a pair of non-slip socks will allow your little one to learn about balance and establish their natural walking pattern and body position.
The sole of the foot has more nerve-endings per sqcm than anywhere else on the body. This sensitive surface sends vital information to the brain about the terrain and environment, so crucial during these early explorations. Wearing shoes places a barrier between the foot and the ground, dulling these sensations.
There will come a time when your little one will want to be on their feet outside and this is the time to consider a pair of prewalkers, particularly during the colder, wetter months (there being a fair few of these in the UK!).
Prewalkers should be soft, lightweight, flexible and have a water-repellant, non-slip sole, with a secure fit around the ankle, so that the foot is held in position within the shoe. The function of prewalkers is to provide protection, while allowing the foot and leg to move naturally.
The advice is to allow around six weeks of independent walking, i.e. walking without assistance, before moving to more structured, supportive shoes. By this time your little one will be moving confidently, walking the majority of the time and at greater speed.
Over the years there will be plenty of opportunity to buy a whole range of different shoes, now is the time to take it slow and let them find their feet.