Have you ever strolled through the baby section of a department store and admired the array of adorable baby shoes? There are tiny shoes for newborns' precious feet, as well as adorable toddlers' shoes in a variety of character styles. How important are shoes for your baby? Should you buy the most expensive ones on the market?
When Should I Put Shoes On My Baby?
In decades past, many pediatricians encouraged parents to keep shoes on their infant's feet. They believed that the child would not learn to walk correctly without the aid of good, supportive baby shoes. Today, pediatricians now recommend letting your baby go barefoot as much as possible.
When your baby is just an infant, the only reason to place shoes on his feet is for appearance or for warmth. Obviously, you don't want to place shoes that are too small on his feet, but other than that, there really isn't any guideline you should follow since these shows really don't serve much of a purpose.
Once your child begins walking, you should still try to keep her barefoot as much as possible. By letting your child go barefoot, you are encouraging her foot and leg muscles to strength naturally. While baby's walk may look funny to you, his waddle is normal and natural.
The only reason you should place baby shoes on your child's feet is to protect them from injury, such as rocks; hard, rough surfaces; and sticker-laden yards; or from the cold or wet ground. Other than that, your child is much better off barefoot.
What Kind of Shoes Should I Buy?
When you do get ready to purchase shoes for your child, you may be a little overwhelmed at the choices. Should you spend lots of money for expensive, leather shoes, or would the cheaper department store quality shoes work? You should purchase your child's shoes from a children's specialty shop, or can you buy them from the local dollar store? Unless your child has a foot problem, the choice is really up to you.
Your child's shoes should fit well with room to grow. Place your thumb across the top of the shoe. If there is a thumb width between the top of your child's toes and the end of the shoe, then that should be about the right size. Remember, just as the other parts of your child's body are growing quickly, so are her feet!
Babies really don't need arch support. In fact, you want their arches to develop naturally, so you don't want to force them into a particular position. Flexible shoes are good because they allow plenty of foot movement, but don't worry about arch support.
You can buy leather uppers if you choose, but rubber or plastic is fine, too. Your child's feet may sweat more in rubber or plastic, however. When you remove a shoe from your child's foot, you need to pay attention to the appearance of her skin. Does it show pinched red marks or indentions? If so, the shoes may be too tight or narrow. Does your baby begin to cry and continue to do so after you have placed shoes on her foot? They may be uncomfortable for her, so try a different pair.
Does My Baby Need Special Baby Shoes?
If you suspect that your child has a foot problem or disorder, however, you need to consult your pediatrician. This problem will most likely already have been discovered. In cases of disorders or deformities of the foot and ankle, special shoes will have to be ordered. Your pediatrician may refer your child to an orthopedic surgeon for a more in-depth look at what is need to correct the problem.
How Often Does My Baby Need New Shoes?
Finally, children grow in spurts. While one pair of shoes may last for a few months, you may be surprised to discover that the next pair becomes too small in a matter of weeks. This is why it is important to check your child's shoes often to make sure they fit properly. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, contact your pediatrician.