When I became a mom I researched every step of my daughters’ development. The moment she started to stand on her feet I started to wonder what kind of shoes to buy for a baby learning to walk. The most important thing I discovered is that babies and toddlers should wear soft flexible shoes. If you are wondering why babies should wear soft-soled shoes, read on.
Should babies wear shoes when learning to walk?
During the learning to walk phase, it is best your baby is barefoot or wearing non-slip sock slippers from natural materials. That`s the best way for them to learn to walk naturally. Shoes just might get in the way of their proper development. There is a study that says – children who regularly barefoot have higher foot arches than children who never walked barefoot. Their feet were also more flexible and less flat.
Another study says that wearing thick, over-supported modern shoes can reduce the brain maturing process. ˝The level of brain and body stress from wearing bad shoes can be damaging. The most logical, effective, and healthiest way for children to develop their whole body is by being barefoot.˝
What to Look for in Baby’s First Walking Shoes?
- First, they need to fit correctly, they should be wide and allow them to move their toes.
- They need to be lightweight and flexible – avoid all hard shoes that restrict foot movement.
- Buy velcro-strapped shoes for the best adjustability. That will hold their shoe in place. Otherwise, they might claw their toes to keep the shoe in place.
- No high heels or arch support, as they might cause deformation of their feet and prevent arch muscle development.
- Breathable – choose natural materials, or leather shoes to promote a healthy environment for developing kids’ feet. Avoid synthetics and plastics as they don’t breathe.
- Rubber sole that is slip-resistant and provides good traction.
Why Should Babies Wear Soft-Soled Shoes?
The most important reason why you should choose soft-soled shoes is that a child’s foot supported by an artificial arch learns to rely on the support from the shoe as opposed to the muscles in the foot. Over time, the muscles become weakened and they lose elasticity, and balance, which leads to injuries. Arch support hinders the ability of a child’s foot to strengthen naturally.
- They are much more comfortable for a child
- They allow the feet’ bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints to grow and develop naturally without hindrances. They also help young children to increase their balance and coordination, which means that your little ones will be able to learn to walk as they would barefooted.
- They prevent tripping over and clumsiness
Is Flat Feet Normal in Toddlers?
All babies are flat-footed when they start to walk, and that’s perfectly normal. As they learn to walk and grow, their muscles will strengthen and their fat pods in the arch will be less visible. They should develop a normal arch on both feet by the age of 6, or in some cases by the age of 10.
Flat feet in babies and toddlers are normally flexible. Some babies may have slightly visible arches though. In most cases, you can see an arch when the foot is off the ground, or when a toddler is standing on tip-toes. See the explanation here developed by The Royal Children’s Hospital.
How Long Should Toddlers Wear Soft-Soled Shoes?
Toddlers should wear soft-soled shoes until they learn to walk confidently and stable. Even so, try to buy flexible and lightweight shoes until at least 4 years of age.
What are the Best Shoe Brands for
BABY’S FIRST STEPS?
Read my review on some of the best shoe brands based on our personal experience.
My Toddler Doesn’t Want to Wear Slippers
Kids’ instincts are stronger than we think. I used to get so frustrated with my daughter walking barefoot, worrying she will catch a cold. But after all of my research, I realize that she only does what her body tells her to do. So if your toddler wants to go barefoot, let him be.
During colder weather just provide warm non-slip socks, or sock-slippers with rubber, or leather sole. I must be honest that this worked with my firstborn. But my secondborn only wears socks at home, and she is 4 years old. It never caused her to get sick or catch a cold.
Trust your kid and his judgment on the subject.
Interesting Facts on Kids’ Feet
- New walkers take 176 steps a minute!
- A child’s feet develop from birth till they are 18. But, after the first 10 years, the growth of feet is less than 1mm per month. The development of the foot bones is almost complete in girls by 14 years of age and for boys, the foot growth stops when they reach 16.
- Even socks can affect babies’ growing feet. Throw away too small socks, as they can restrict blood flow and hinder their development. Onesies or bodysuits with feet that are too small or short can curl their toes up which can result in damage to their growing bones.