June 11


How to Get a Toddler to Wear Shoes & Keep Them On

By Teddy

June 11, 2023

As parents, we understand the daily challenges of getting our toddlers to wear shoes and keep them on. It often feels like a never-ending battle, but fear not! With a few strategies and a little bit of patience, you can successfully teach your toddler to wear shoes comfortably and keep them on for longer periods. In this article, we will explore various techniques and tips to make the shoe-wearing experience a positive one for both you and your little one.

Understanding the Importance of Wearing Shoes for Toddlers

Before delving into the strategies, it’s crucial to understand why wearing shoes is important for toddlers. Shoes provide protection from potential hazards such as sharp objects, rough surfaces, or extreme temperatures. They also offer support and stability, helping toddlers as they learn to walk and explore their environment. Additionally, shoes contribute to maintaining proper foot alignment and promoting healthy foot development.

Choosing the Right Shoes for Your Toddler

One of the first steps in encouraging your toddler to wear shoes is selecting the right pair. Consider the following factors when choosing shoes for your little one:

Comfort and Fit

Ensure that the shoes you choose provide a comfortable fit for your toddler’s feet. Look for shoes with ample toe room, a flexible sole, and cushioning to support their developing feet.

Breathability and Materials

Opt for shoes made from breathable materials such as leather or mesh to prevent excessive sweating and discomfort. Avoid synthetic materials that can trap heat and moisture.

Support and Flexibility

Choose shoes that offer proper arch support and allow natural foot movement. Flexible soles are ideal for toddlers, as they facilitate proper gait and foot development.

Building a Positive Association with Shoes

To make shoe-wearing an enjoyable experience for your toddler, it’s essential to create a positive association with shoes. Here are some strategies to help you achieve that:

Make it a Fun Experience

Make putting on shoes a fun and exciting activity for your toddler. Use positive reinforcement, praise, and encouragement to make them associate wearing shoes with something enjoyable.

Involve Your Toddler in the Shoe Selection Process

Take your toddler along when shopping for shoes. Let them choose between a few options (pre-selected by you) to give them a sense of autonomy and involvement in the decision-making process.

Use Rewards and Incentives

Consider implementing a reward system to motivate your toddler. Offer small rewards, such as stickers or a favorite snack, when they wear their shoes without resistance.

Creating a Routine

Establishing a routine can be immensely helpful in getting your toddler accustomed to wearing shoes. Follow these steps to create a consistent shoe-wearing routine:

Introduce Shoes Gradually

Start by introducing shoes in a familiar and comfortable environment, such as at home. Allow your toddler to wear them for short periods initially.

Start with Short Durations

In the beginning, let your toddler wear shoes for short durations, gradually increasing the time as they become more comfortable. This gradual approach helps prevent overwhelming your child.

Gradually Increase Wearing Time

As your toddler adapts to wearing shoes, slowly increase the duration they wear them. Begin with short walks around the house and then progress to longer outings.

Dealing with Resistance

It’s common for toddlers to resist wearing shoes, but here are some strategies to help you navigate through their resistance:

Acknowledge Your Toddler’s Feelings

Validate your toddler’s feelings when they express resistance. Use phrases like, “I understand you don’t like wearing shoes, but they protect your feet.”

Offer Alternatives When Appropriate

Consider compromise when it comes to certain situations. If your toddler doesn’t want to wear shoes in the house, allow them to wear non-slip socks or indoor slippers instead.

Stay Patient and Consistent

Consistency is key in teaching your toddler to wear shoes. Be patient and persistent, offering gentle reminders and encouragement along the way.

Making Shoes Comfortable

Ensuring that shoes are comfortable for your toddler is vital in encouraging them to wear shoes willingly. Consider the following tips:

Check for the Right Size

Regularly measure your toddler’s feet to ensure they are wearing the correct shoe size. Remember that children’s feet can grow rapidly, so frequent measurements are essential.

Use Socks and Insoles if Needed

If your toddler’s shoes are slightly big, try adding socks or insoles to provide a better fit. This can enhance comfort and prevent slipping.

Opt for Adjustable Closures

Choose shoes with adjustable closures such as Velcro or elastic laces. These allow for a customized fit and make it easier to put shoes on and take them off.

Making Shoes Appealing

When it comes to toddlers, making shoes visually appealing can significantly increase their willingness to wear them. Consider the following tips:

Choose Shoes with Their Favorite Characters or Colors

Look for shoes featuring characters or colors your toddler loves. This personal touch can make them more excited about wearing their shoes.

Decorate the Shoes Together

Get creative and involve your toddler in decorating their shoes. Use non-toxic markers or fabric paint to add unique designs or their initials. This personalization can make the shoes feel special and fun.

Personalize the Shoes

Consider adding small accessories like shoelace charms or removable stickers to the shoes. Your toddler will love the customization and feel more connected to their shoes.

Leading by Example

Toddlers often imitate their parents or caregivers, so leading by example can be an effective strategy in encouraging shoe-wearing. Here’s how you can do it:

Show Your Toddler That You Wear Shoes Too

Demonstrate to your toddler that wearing shoes is a normal part of everyday life. Let them see you putting on your shoes and explain why you wear them.

Make Shoe-Wearing a Family Affair

Involve the entire family in the shoe-wearing routine. Encourage older siblings or other family members to put on their shoes at the same time as your toddler.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Along the way, you may encounter specific challenges related to shoe-wearing. Here are some tips to address common hurdles:

Removing Shoes in Public Places

If your toddler frequently takes off their shoes in public places, redirect their attention to something engaging. Carry a small toy or offer a snack to distract them from removing their shoes.

Dealing with Resistance During Outings

Toddlers might resist wearing shoes when going out. Keep a few small toys or books handy in your bag to distract them and make the process smoother.

Handling Shoe-Related Tantrums

If your toddler throws a tantrum related to shoes, remain calm and offer empathy. Reassure them that their feelings are valid while gently encouraging them to wear their shoes.

Tips for Keeping Shoes On

Sometimes, even with all the strategies in place, toddlers may still try to take off their shoes. Consider the following tips to keep shoes on:

Use Shoes That Are Harder to Remove

Choose shoes with closures that are more challenging for toddlers to undo. Look for shoes with multiple straps, buckles, or secure laces.

Avoid Loose or Slippery Socks

Ensure that the socks your toddler wears with their shoes fit properly. Loose or slippery socks can contribute to the shoes coming off more easily.

Distract Your Toddler’s Attention

Engage your toddler’s attention with interactive toys, music, or engaging conversation to redirect their focus away from removing their shoes.

Safety Considerations

While encouraging your toddler to wear shoes, it’s essential to prioritize their safety. Keep the following considerations in mind:

Ensure Proper Shoe Fit

Regularly check your toddler’s shoes to ensure they still fit properly. Avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose, as they can cause discomfort and foot problems.

Regularly Check Shoes for Wear and Tear

Inspect your toddler’s shoes frequently for any signs of wear and tear. Replace them as needed to maintain the shoes’ functionality and safety.

Avoid Potential Hazards

Choose shoes with sturdy soles and closed toes to protect your toddler’s feet from potential hazards like sharp objects or uneven surfaces.

Celebrating Milestones

As your toddler progresses in their shoe-wearing journey, celebrate their milestones and accomplishments. Here are some ways to do so:

Praise and Encourage Your Toddler’s Progress

Offer plenty of praise and encouragement when your toddler wears their shoes without resistance or keeps them on for longer periods. Positive reinforcement can reinforce their behavior.

Gradually Reduce Reliance on Rewards

As your toddler becomes more accustomed to wearing shoes, gradually reduce the use of rewards. Transition from tangible rewards to verbal praise and recognition.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you’re still facing challenges with getting your toddler to wear shoes, consider the following troubleshooting tips:

Seeking Professional Help if Needed

If you have concerns about your toddler’s foot development or persistent resistance to wearing shoes, consult a pediatrician or a podiatrist for expert guidance.

Considering Alternative Footwear Options

If traditional shoes continue to be a challenge, explore alternative footwear options like soft-soled shoes, moccasins, or socks with non-slip grips.

Getting toddlers to wear shoes and keep them on can be a process that requires patience, consistency, and creativity. By following the strategies outlined in this article, you can create a positive association with shoes, establish a routine, and address challenges along the way. Remember, every toddler is unique, so be flexible and adapt the techniques to suit your child’s individual preferences and needs.


How long does it take for a toddler to get used to wearing shoes?

The time it takes for a toddler to get used to wearing shoes can vary. Some toddlers may adapt quickly within a few days, while others may take several weeks or even months. Be patient and consistent in your approach, and eventually, your toddler will become more comfortable with wearing shoes.

What if my toddler refuses to wear any type of shoes?

If your toddler refuses to wear any type of shoes, start by identifying the specific reasons behind their resistance. It could be a matter of comfort, fit, or a dislike for the sensation of wearing shoes. Experiment with different styles, materials, and sizes to find shoes that your toddler finds more agreeable.

Are there any specific shoe brands recommended for toddlers?

There are several reputable shoe brands that offer quality shoes for toddlers. Look for brands that prioritize comfort, flexibility, and proper foot support. Some popular options include Stride Rite, Pediped, Livie & Luca, and See Kai Run. However, remember that every child’s foot is unique, so what works for one may not work for another. Focus on finding shoes that fit well and suit your toddler’s individual needs.

How can I prevent my toddler from taking off their shoes in public?

Preventing toddlers from taking off their shoes in public can be challenging. Try using distraction techniques by engaging your toddler in conversation or carrying a small toy to divert their attention. Additionally, using shoes with secure closures, such as Velcro straps or buckles, can make it more difficult for them to remove their shoes.

What should I do if my toddler keeps complaining about uncomfortable shoes?

If your toddler keeps complaining about uncomfortable shoes, address their concerns promptly. Check for any signs of discomfort, such as redness or blisters, and ensure that the shoes are the correct size and fit. Consider trying different shoe brands or styles that provide better comfort and support. If the issue persists, consult a healthcare professional or a podiatrist for further evaluation.

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