Do babies even need shoes? And if they do, what should be kept in mind during a shopping trip? The answers vary depending upon baby’s development and parental preference, but there are some guidelines to follow.
Understanding Baby Feet
Baby feet are very pliable. The bones of the feet are not formed significantly until around age 8, and an infant’s feet in particular are made up of mostly cartilage until they are about 9 months in age. Babies also tend to be flat-footed, as the arch develops when they are preschool-aged.
An important part of foot development in babies is free movement. This develops muscle and bone development in the feet, which also gets them ready for crawling, bouncing, and soon walking. It is important your baby has space for free moving feet.
Wait Until a Baby Is Old Enough to Walk
Buying cute shoes that coordinate perfectly with that little outfit just seems to make sense, but babies actually do not need shoes until they are beginning to walk. In fact, wearing shoes can do more harm than good. Babies who don’t wear shoes are able to move their feet more freely and learn better balance. For these reasons, parents shouldn’t be so quick to slip shoes on baby whenever they leave the house—even if they did find an adorable pair of tiny Uggs. Putting shoes on your baby too early can actually restrict movement and delay proper development, so opt for socks instead. If you must purchase shoes for a pre-walker, go with soft-soled fabric shoes.
Once a baby starts “cruising” and walking, you can purchase shoes. Until then, allow them to walk barefoot as often as possible. This will build strength and coordination as they can confidently feel the ground beneath them.
What Type of Shoes to Buy
If your baby is not yet walking but you still want shoes for family photos or special occasions, there is nothing wrong with it. There are so many different types of shoes available for young children, but some ideal brands include:
- Stride Rite Prewalkers
- Preschoolians Crawlers
- New Balance
- Jack & Lily
- Nina Kids
Remember to remove shoes whenever you are at home or somewhere your baby can cruise or walk around safely.
Once your baby starts walking, there are different features you should look for in a shoe. These include:
- Non-skid soles
- Correct fit of snug heels and wiggle room in the toes
- Comfortable soft designs like leather
- Shoes with high ankles to prevent baby from pulling them off
For ease of use, opt for slip-ons or Velcro whenever possible. Once your child reaches preschool age, purchase lace-up shoes so they can learn to tie shoes and take them on and off independently.
Shoes to Avoid
With so many adorable options for purchase, what shoes should you avoid? As a general rule, you want to avoid anything that can fall off or be a tripping hazard for new walkers. This includes flip-flop style sandals and sneakers where the Velcro has worn down to the point it doesn’t stay fastened in place. These types of shoes are not only a tripping hazard but can also be dangerous—loosely fitting kids’ shoes have even been known to get caught in an escalator.
When to See a Podiatrist
Babies naturally walk a little funny when they are still learning how. From poor alignment to plenty of tumbles, odd walking patterns are acceptable to a certain extent. However, if your child struggles to learn how to get around and/or has become a confident walker with a concerning gait, it might be time to see a doctor.
Some signs that warrant seeing a podiatrist include:
- Toe walking
- Walking with the feet turned too far inward or outward
- Ingrown toenails
- A child not walking by around 15 months of age
Are You Looking for Pediatric Foot Care in Austin, TX?
If you are looking for pediatric foot care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.