The Truth About Baby Shoes
Already, I can hear the moms asking “What?” It’s amazing! “Baby and toddler shoes are all over… and they’re just so cute!” I hate to say it, but toddler footwear has become more of a fashion statement than a functional tool.
These are four things that parents need to know about footwear for children in their early years.
Better to have your feet barefoot.
Gross motor milestones (big movements) are a complex process that involves the nervous and muscular systems. Your baby will often be seen “eating” or playing with their feet. The small muscles in the feet will be strengthened by these actions, such as curling, wiggling and bending their toes. Your toddler’s feet will be more stable when they start to stand and walk around furniture.
It’s okay for toddlers to be flat-footed.
Numerous studies have been conducted to see if arch support (or supporting the midfoot) can speed up arch development. These findings don’t support the use of footwear for a normal or healthy foot arch. Flat feet are actually less common in societies where shoes were not worn in childhood.
It is a slow process.
As children’s nervous systems and muscles mature, their foot-strike becomes more adult-like. Leg bones naturally strengthen and align during childhood. The child’s “bow-legged” appearance will diminish as the bones of the foot and leg mature. This gradual process, which usually occurs around 7 years of age, is independent of footwear.
Shoes are for protection.
Your baby or toddler should not be placed in an area where they might step on anything hot, cold, splintery or bumpy. Shoes are essential for them! Shoes that are flexible and have thin soles are best. For children who are just learning to walk, leather-soled shoes can be a great choice. Your toddler will need a shoe with a flexible sole that is strong enough to withstand running.
To find toddler shoes, fold the shoe in half. The shoe should be able to bend in the middle. The arch support is present if the shoe bends towards the ball of the foot. If a shoe has arch support, a toddler will have to walk unnaturally in it.
Don’t let the clever marketing of baby footwear fool you. Shoes should only be worn to protect toddlers’ feet from the elements.