Keep Babies Barefoot for Proper Foot Development

We’ve seen it all – tiny and trendy infant shoes that look like leopard skin, Spiderman or even Dorothy’s ruby slippers. It’s tempting to grab them for the latest new arrival in your family, but don’t do it!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends shoes for babies only when they begin to walk. In fact, shoes don’t help infants walk faster. It’s just the opposite – baby shoes with slippery soles or that are inflexible can actually make it harder to take those important first steps.

Foot Development Is Helped by Walking Barefoot

An infant’s feet have flexible bones that are made of soft cartilage. These gradually convert over to bone as they grow. Because of this flexibility, the feet should be covered only for warmth and protection. Socks work best, especially when made of cotton or a cotton and wool mix, but watch carefully that they aren’t growing too tight.

It’s good for forming feet to walk barefoot. This allows muscles and ligaments to develop and the foot’s arch to strengthen. Babies love the sensation of walking and connecting to the ground. Good posture is also aided by walking barefoot.

Selecting Baby’s First Pair of Shoes

Is it true that whoever finds baby’s first tooth can buy the first pair of shoes? No matter who buys the shoes, it’s important to get shoes for your baby as soon as they begin walking to protect the feet. At Your Next Step we recommend keeping these tips in mind:

  • Have both feet measured professionally and often. Measure a toddler’s feet every 6 to 8 weeks, as her feet will grow an average of 2 sizes each year until age 4.
  • Make sure shoes are roomy in the toe area. You should be able to fit your pinkie finger between the tip of the shoe and the end of the shoes. The shoe should be wide enough so toes can lay flat.
  • Choose shoes that come in whole and half-sizes with variable widths so you’ll get an accurate fit.
  • Look for shoes with non-slip soles and padded ankles for support. Soft leather with skid-resistant soles is flexible and lightweight. Fastenings should hold the heel in place and prevent slipping in the shoe.

One more thought – avoid hand-me-downs as shoes will have molded to the foot of the prior owner and won’t properly fit your child.

Contact Us with Any Questions on Your Child’s Foot Health

Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen, board certified or qualified podiatrists have extensive experience with infant and child foot and ankle care. Please call us for an appointment – you can find contact information at the website for our Ardmore, Paoli and Downingtown offices.

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