Although your well-meaning granny may tell you differently, toddlers don't need rigid shoes that cover the ankle. Of course, your little guy needs something on his feet when he goes outside. But when it comes to toddler shoes, less is more, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Put your toddler in shoes suitable for the weather, not shoes that will prop up his ankles.
Purpose of Shoes
Shoes help prevent injury and infection when your toddler goes outside, according to the AAP. If he's in the house, he doesn't need shoes at all. Let common sense be your guide: In the winter, shoes need to be warm enough to prevent his toes from turning purple; in warmer weather, normal sneakers will suffice.
Toddler shoes don't need to be made of rigid material. As long as it's not too cold or the surface your toddler is toddling over isn't rough, sharp or otherwise potentially dangerous, soft leather or cloth shoes are fine. Toddlers may stumble in sneakers, which can stick to the floor, according to the AAP. In general, toddlers should wear flexible shoes that are as much like walking barefoot as possible.
If you want to go retro with high white shoes, buy soft ones. Kids' shoes should be flexible, with a large toe box that doesn't restrict movement. There's no reason for shoes to come up over the ankle; normal ankles don't need support. The only reason to put high-top shoes on a toddler is to make them harder for her to take them off. Flashing lights on shoes may help you find your kid in the dark and provide her a little entertainment, but they're optional.
Shoes that are too rigid can force your toddler's malleable little feet into awkward positions, which can lead to deformities. In your quest to put your kiddo into shoes that will strengthen his feet, you might actually make them weaker, the AAP warns. Most toddlers have flat feet that will develop an arch as they grow, according to a September-October 1998 article in "Paediatrics and Child Health." There is no reason to put corrective shoes on your toddler's little flat foot.