When your baby comes along, you as a doting parent want to express your love by showering her with the best that your money can buy including baby shoes but she is not ready to step into them until she is two. Unlike adults, babies, toddlers, and little kids feel more comfortable staying and going about barefoot and therefore are averse to putting any kind of footwear.
A majority of parents are hardly willing to wait before their babies can take their first steps and paediatricians are flooded with calls from parents who’re keen to know whether their babies should put on shoes or go barefoot. There was a time when it was suggested that shoes with extra pads and soles for tiny tots who were just learning to walk provided extra support, which is so very vital for all-round foot development. But eventually it has been established through surveys and research on growth and development aspects of babies, kids, and infants that shoes are overly supportive (more than what might be necessary) and can hinder natural gait.
The upshot is that a toddler should be allowed to remain barefoot whenever possible until and unless he/she is two years old. Till such time, you should let your baby prance and strut about barefoot as much as she likes to.
1. Benefits of Remaining and Going about Barefoot
- The muscles and sinews of a baby’s feet are very soft and fragile which grow strong as she attempts to walk barefoot. Contact with the ground is very necessary for the healthy growth of muscles. Making your baby step into shoes even when he/she hasn’t turned two can prevent the robust development of muscles.
- Walking barefoot helps your baby to pick up balancing skills.
- Walking unshod also encourages the cultivation of a gait pattern that is natural and spontaneous
- Your baby needs to feel and experience the ground below her feet and should be able to differentiate between carpeted and hard floors, grass and clay lawns and so on.
- Walking barefoot is extremely essential for the development of the sensory proprioceptors in the limbs that helps your baby to gain a sense of perception of body parts and their relative positions during locomotion.
But of course, there are occasions or times when your baby should not be barefoot, especially when you’re taking him or her out or during the winter season. When you take your child outside, make him or her wear socks made from light fabrics like cotton, wool or alpaca fabric that will not only keep her warm and cosy but make her feel as if he’s/ she’s is barefoot!
2. Factors to Keep in Mind While Buying Baby Shoes
As your kid grows up, he/she’ll soon outgrow his/her socks and pre-walkers and will need to step into shoes, so to speak. In the first two years, her footwear served to complement her dresses and was more of an extension of the outfit. But as she grows up, she’ll be requiring shoes as a separate accessory and for enhanced foot safety. Your baby is different from all other kids of her age in shape or size and her growth rate might vary as well. It might happen that your baby will comfortably slip into a particular size shoe that some other baby of her age will find difficult to step into. Therefore, you should always let her try as many pairs as possible before she finds her right fit.
Always go for shoes that are built from natural fibres or fabrics like cotton or jute rather than settling for footwear made from artificial composites. Shoes made from cotton or other natural fabrics are perfect for babies as their feet tend to sweat heavily even more than grown ups. Whenever you’re buying baby shoes, utility and comfort should be uppermost in your mind and styles or trends should not be taken into account. In other words, simplicity should be the key when shopping for baby shoes.
Since your baby grows quite quickly in the initial years, you should always see to it that his/her shoes fit properly. Keep tabs on his/her feet growth periodically and then buy shoes accordingly. Crib shoes are the first footwear that your newborn will put on and given his/her extremely delicate and small feet at that age, you simply cannot compromise with comfort or security. Crib shoes are perfect for babies 0-6 months old.
When your baby starts to crawl, he/she would require crawling shoes. Crawling shoes let him/her cavort around with complete freedom while protecting his/her feet from the dust on the floor. Crawling shoes serve her footwear needs until she is 1 year old. Pre-walkers are very lightweight shoes that come with non-slippery soles that help your child maintain her posture while she tries to stand on her own feet and takes the first few baby-steps. Pre-walkers are best for children aged 6-18 months. When your child is able to walk independently both inside the house and outside, then it is time for her to graduate to walking shoes. By the time she steps into her walking shoes, she’s already two years old. She can keep wearing walking shoes until she is 4 years old.
3. Aspects You Should Be Careful About
You should be very particular about the fit of your baby’s shoes. Shoes that are too loose could make your kid trip or fall and he/she might not be able to take his/her steps properly.
On the other hand, shoes in which she is not able to move her toe and other digits are ill fitting as well. Such shoes that hug her feet tightly can cause blisters or sores. Keep the weather conditions in mind. Keep sandals, slippers or slip-ons with straps handy during the summer season. Go for shoes that are washable for the sake of hygiene. Get rid of all the mud and dirt by washing them thoroughly as any traces of sand or mud in the shoes can lead to feet infections.
4. The Adverse Effect of Ill-Fitting Shoes
Shoes that do not fit appropriately can cause bunions especially in the toes. The toe suffers a bend that adversely affects feet alignment eventually causing profound pain and often necessitating surgery. Shoes that do not fit in rightly may lead to posture problems as your kid will always try to correct the lopsided position to make self feel comfortable either by slumping or drooping.
When your baby is forced to insert and place her feet in tight fitting or short shoes, blood circulation in her feet is affected – resulting in varicose veins. Shoes that restrict natural positioning of the toes, digits and the entire feet cause her to suffer from tendonitis and inflammation of foot muscles.
Since your child’s ligaments, tendons, muscles, cartilages and bones are soft and pliable; he’ll/she’ll be able to accommodate his/her feet in a shoe that is ill fitting. The deleterious effects will become prominent at a much later stage in life. Therefore you should be very fastidious about the ideal shoe size and let your baby try several pairs before she discovers his/her best fit.