When you’re a new parent, it can be tempting to dress your tiny baby in the most adorable infant-sized versions of adult sneakers or shoes. The experts say putting shoes on an infant could be bad for development, though. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants only start wearing shoes after they begin walking. Babies could have a pretty tough time taking their first steps in inflexible shoes with potentially slippery soles.
Why keep babies barefoot?
Barefoot walking is the healthiest option for feet that are still forming. Babies’ ligaments and muscles are still developing, and their arches are trying to strengthen up. Babies’ foot bones start as soft, very flexible cartilage that gradually turn to bone. Therefore, their feet only need covering for warmth and protection. Both of these needs can be met with cotton socks. Make sure socks aren’t too snug or too loose for baby’s feet!
Infants learning to walk also love the feeling of their bare feet connecting to the ground. Walking barefoot keeps them in tune with the surface they’re walking on and can contribute to good posture.
How to choose the first shoes for baby
Once your baby does begin walking, it is a great time to invest in a sturdy shoe that offers solid protection. Here are some recommendations:
- Visit a shoe store that is reputable and specializes in kids’ shoes.
- Have both feet measured. Toddlers’ feet grow about 2 sizes every year until they’re 4, so measure them every 6 to 8 weeks.
- Leave plenty of room in the toe area – enough to fit your pinkie finger between the shoe’s lip and the end of the toes. Make sure the toes lay flat in the shoe and aren’t bunched up.
- Check for brands that offer half sizes and varying widths to get a proper fit. If the heel slips, it could be dangerous.
- Choose flexible, lightweight, and breathable materials that still offer support and protection, like canvas.
We also recommend you avoid hand-me-down shoes for your child’s growing feet. It’s great to reuse and recycle; however, you might also be recycling shoes that have molded themselves to a previous child’s feet. It’s best to buy shoes that fit your growing child’s individual feet
If you notice anything off with your babies’ feet as they start to walk, it’s time to call us. Our team of foot doctors here at Connecticut Foot Care Centers is equipped with a wealth of knowledge and resources in caring for feet of any age. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff has unparalleled experience and can help you at any of our six conveniently located Connecticut offices. Request an appointment today!