Kids love climbing. Behind walking and running, climbing is unquestionably one of the most natural activities in the world. I do not doubt that as soon as your little one masters crawling and walking, climbing is next on their busy to-do list. Besides, there are few things more adorable than a toddler pulling on some plastic holds or scrambling up a little boulder.
This isn’t just all play, no work though. Climbing is great for your little ones developing motor skills, and an early introduction to the world of rock climbing has given a few little dudes some serious crushing potential. You might have even seen this little crusher, known as the Little Zen Monkey, go viral a few years ago after the internet unearthed her baby-crushing abilities. If not, here’s a quick story Insider ran a few years back.
Most top athletes, regardless of the sport, almost always start honing their craft from a young age. When it comes to climbing, the average starting age for climbers who qualified for the 2020 Olympics was about 8 years old, with more than half of them being introduced to the sport by their families.
If your little one was born with a bad case of the climbing bug, or you are living your dream of being a professional climber through your child (great idea by the way) then we are here to answer some baby climbing shoe questions.
Do I Need Baby Climbing Shoes?
The short answer is no, your baby absolutely doesn’t need climbing shoes. In fact, babies don’t need shoes to stand or learn to walk at all. Shoes might even prevent young feet from growing naturally. Look, I am not a pediatrician or orthopedic specialist, but according to Kids Health and Baby Centre, going barefoot helps children develop agility, coordination, strength, and balance.
Really, kids don’t need shoes, at least until they have mastered walking and begun to venture outdoors. Shoes are only meant to protect their feet, they aren’t a walking aid. Prematurely putting shoes on your little one might even prevent their feet from growing properly.
Besides, if you know the number of problems climbers have with their feet, then you would probably agree it isn’t a great idea to cram your baby’s feet into a pair of climbing shoes.
Still, want baby climbing shoes? These hand-crocheted shoes are by far the most adorable shoes we have ever seen!
These baby climbing shoes come in a range of colors and are made in a variety of sizes between 0-12 months. You can find them on Etsy here.
The Smallest Climbing Shoes For Toddlers
Once your infant starts to grow and enters into childhood, now is a good time for their first pair of shoes and that memorable first trip to the crag (or the gym if that’s more your thing). There is an extensive selection of kids climbing shoes for aspiring monkeys of every level.
Currently, the smallest climbing shoes are the La Sportiva Stickit and the Mad Rock Monkey. Both of these shoes come in a size 26 EU, the average shoe size for a 3-year-old.
La Sportiva Stickit
Designed as a shoe for kids, the La Sportiva Stickit comes with a lacing system that allows for a more customized fit, prolonging the lifespan before it is outgrown. It performs surprisingly well for a comfortable shoe with a nice balance of comfort and performance.
The excess lace on a looser-fitting shoe can be wrapped around the heel and shortened or lengthened. The smallest size is EU 26, and the unlined leather upper might provide a little more stretch. The Stickit will suit young children progressing onto more challenging terrain.
My Top Pick
Mad Rock Monkey
Mad Rock Monkey, the joint smallest climbing shoe currently available, is another very popular choice for toddlers. This is a vegan-friendly climbing shoe that promotes comfort for your little ones’ feet.
The Mad Rock Monkey has some pretty neat features too though. For starters, it uses Mad Rock’s Science Friction rubber, which is some seriously grippy stuff. It also has two adjustable straps on the heel, which help get a snug fit on your child’s foot while allowing the shoe to ‘stretch’ half a size as their feet grow.
The Evolv Venga is a comfortable, adjustable shoe with a hook and loop pull tab that allows for a more customized fit. Thanks to the full-circumference rand, the wide shoe won’t cram the little feet while the Trax rubber edges surprisingly well. The Venga was designed by an experienced youth coach. It features VTR technology for a thicker rand in high-contact zones for maximum durability, and Agion antimicrobial mesh liners help maintain freshness.
The 4.2mm Trax SAS outsoles give plenty of friction and durability, while the sensitive 0.6mm midsoles make the shoe flexible and comfortable. As sizes start at EU 30, these kicks might suit slightly older children.
Scarpa Reflex V
The Scarpa Reflex V is a breathable, elastic upper with two velcro closures. A microfibre footbed wraps around the big toe while the flat and neutral last has a low-angled toe box.
Scarpa’s PAF heel system helps spread the force throughout the shoe, reducing pressure on the Achilles tendon and avoiding overstressing little feet.
Supremely comfortable with a single strap that makes it easy to take on and off, kids are often seen running around with the Butora Bora as if they were sneakers.
The upper is made from Neo-knit fabric and is machine washable with an antibacterial coating to help them stay fresh longer. With the smallest size at EU 28, they come in three brightly colored patterns and will be a hit with any child.
The day that you proudly watch your little monkey scamper up the gym wall and crush your boulder project is right around the corner. Climbing comes naturally to babies. After they start crawling, they’ll soon learn to stand and walk.
Then beware! They magically transform into escape artists that can get through gates, cribs, and other barricades. Climbing supports mental and physical development. Toddlers have to use the entire body, improving balance, coordination, and flexibility. Pushing with the legs while pulling with arms strengthens large muscle groups while they develop both sides of the body at the same time, improving bilateral coordination.
Climbing also improves spatial awareness with new problem-solving skills, which will help the little ones navigate their environment. While we should not impose our passions onto the next generation, we can certainly provide them with the inspiration to be the next Adam Ondra.
Have fun and happy climbing with your kids!