Embarking on this search I was mislead by some bad information in Dr. Sears' The Baby Book. He tells parents that the best shoe for a beginning walker are, not in these exact words, the old school lace up white leather bootie. I mean c'mon, really? I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around this, style factor aside, it sounded like prison for her feet! Feet that love being nude.
Armed with my understanding of the importance of well fitting shoes, the knowledge of her still developing spine and that direct connection it has with our feet, and a desire to make the transition comfortable and smooth I searched. Interesting stuff out there ladies -- as instinct may have already guided you that out-of-style bootie is bad. It's restrictive and can hinder proper development of their feet on up. Here is an observation, I found on the web, by Dr. Lisa Moore, Chiropractor:
During foot development, it is important for bones, muscles, blood vessels and nerves to have room to grow without restriction. As the beginning walker stands up and takes the first tentative steps, the muscles of the feet grip the floor and the toes separate to help the child have better balance and control. If feet are confined within a rigid shoe, the toes cannot operate in this way, nor can the muscles of the foot and ankle develop the strength necessary to hold her upright.
Foot health depends upon the flexibility of the structures involved --- this begins in infancy and continues as we grow. From a chiropractic standpoint, spinal health is connected to foot health; If we wear rigid shoes the bones cannot move freely.
In a nutshell mothers the best is bare; up from that the next best are soft soled shoes with a gripping bottom. Make sure they are made from a breathable material like leather and don't have too thick a sole -- flexibility is key. The shoe need not be a high top, although that can make it more of a challenge to get off, and should have about a half inch wiggle room at the toe.
Here are some brands you may like: PlatyPaws, Foosies and Robeez. They are all great and come in some cute styles. I have yet to purchase a pair but at least going into it now I feel better about the whole thing -- hope to have been a help to any of you mom's out there trying to find the shoe that fits too.