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…Consider the baby…
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- THE BABY
- THE INFANT FOOT
- SO WHEN SHOULD MY BABY WEAR SHOES?
- WHAT ARE CRIB SHOES?
- SHOULD BABIES WEAR SHOES WHILST CRAWLING?
- PRE WALKERS
- SHOULD TODDLERS LEARN TO WALK WITH OR WITHOUT SHOES?
- FIRST WALKERS
- SHOULD BABIES WEAR HARD SOLED SHOES?
- WHAT DOES THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS SAY?
- HOW DO I CHOOSE MY FIRST BABY SHOES?
- THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE SHOE
- SO WHICH ARE THE BEST SHOES FOR BABIES LEARNING TO WALK IN?
- SHOULD TODDLERS WEAR SANDALS?
- BABY SHOES WHICH STAY ON?
Somehow, not entirely worldly, this tiny human has just emerged onto this planet, from another place that was a whole lot damned better.
And aren’t they hell bent on letting you know about it! However, you can’t entirely blame them.
You wouldn’t smile for a month too, if you had just been expelled from the warmest and most comfy place in ever, into this cruel and cold world.
Whereas room service catered to your every whim, you now have to actually do something, to facilitate drinks being served. And it’s all terribly unfair.
As any mom who has ever breast fed knows, breastfeeding is something that must be worked at. And not just by the mother. The baby too is on a steep learning curve to discover how to get regular top ups of the white stuff.
The fact that no one will tell you, is that not all babies are born automatically knowing how to perform this magical feat.
But that is not all.
Far from being crybabies, your newborn will shed no tears. Literally. The tear ducts can’t cope with the extra workload!
Actual wet H2O doesn’t start happening until somewhere between months one and three!
Other things that you might not be aware about your newborn is that they are actually born being able to crawl.
A study in the eighties discovered that, actually, if positioned correctly, a newborn baby will crawl towards its mother’s breast!
A baby can also breathe and take gulps of milk simultaneously, for the first few months and even more amazingly, is able to hold its breathe automatically in water.
And if you ever wondered why on earth it was that newborns needed feeding and burping so much, it’s because when they are first hatched, their stomachs are so minute, they are literally about the same size as a hazelnut.
This will expand rapidly, so that after the end of a fortnight it’s the same as a big egg. Still, it explains the near constant feeding and pooping of the first few weeks!
It may also be a surprise to learn that your baby is not your mini me – no matter how cute the outfit you dress them up in.
They actually have more bones than adults do – with 270 compared to your 206. Most of these are lost when the spine and skull begin to fuse.
THE INFANT FOOT
But in one area they technically don’t have as many bones as they will get later on. And this is in their feet.
Eventually they will go on to develop twenty six bones, a hundred and seven ligaments, nineteen muscles and roughly a quarter of a million sweat glands -although you will wonder how on earth that can possibly fit into a package so tiny!
But, to begin with, their bones are actually just cartilage and won’t solidify into bone for some time. They don’t complete their growth until the later teens.
At the end of their first year, a baby’s foot will be approximately half the length of their adult foot.
Growing, developing bones, fusing together… your baby’s foot goes on quite an adventure during the early years.
And this is why it is so important to look after it properly.
It is all too easy to squash and squeeze the infant foot, into badly fitting shoes and change it forever.
The scariest bit about this is that the child won’t necessarily feel any pain whilst it is happening. This is due to the abundance of fat on the foot, protecting it from hurting.
SO WHEN SHOULD MY BABY WEAR SHOES?
…..And when should I start putting shoes on my baby?
Whatever you put on your child’s feet in these precious early days, experts are all agreed it should be soft and fit properly, with plenty of room for growth inside.
Experts would advise even being careful with socks for the first few years – let alone shoes. Anything that might squash or restrict your kid’s feet is bad news.
Despite the temptation to buy your very tiny baby mini me adult shoes because they look cute, the advice given to parents today is to resist.
They can still look adorable in socks, soft soled shoes and, of course, Auntie Jemima’s hand knitted booties.
And as often as possible, the baby should be allowed to roam free.
To give them the best chance of developing their feet properly, their tootsies should be given as much wiggle space as possible.
This isn’t to say that shoes can never be worn.
WHAT ARE CRIB SHOES?
…And are they the same thing as pre walkers?
Crib, or pram shoes are, as the name suggests, the very first type of footwear that your baby may wear.
These are the shoes with soles so soft that they are practically socks – think booties.
Booties are an excellent example of a crib shoe. These ain’t going to see any walking action anytime soon. Their principal job is to keep baby’s tootsies warm and cozy and above all to look mighty cute!!
So, how do crib shoes correlate to the broader term known as pre walkers? We think that if we had to go back to Math class and draw a Venn diagram of baby shoes, that crib shoes would be inside pre walkers, but pre walkers contain more than just crib shoes.
…but hang on a minute, there is another worry…
SHOULD BABIES WEAR SHOES WHILST CRAWLING?
Or is barefoot best for babies and toddlers?
This is one of those questions where the answer seems to vary, depending on who’s opinion you ask.
For more about pre walkers, read on!
Obviously, there will be times when it is simply too cold to leave your child’s foot uncovered.
For these times, the general advice would be for them to wear socks or something like a baby grow, that has feet in it.
Where this isn’t enough, you may add booties or soft soled shoes.
These would be found in brands such as Clarks, Orgrimmar, Merrell, Pediped, Stride Rite, New Balance, Skechers, Carters and Gubarun. This is not an exhaustive list however.
Pre walkers should not as a general rule wear hard soles. There’s simply no need for it.
So, to get back to the description of a pre walker; when we describe a shoe this way, the assumption is that it is probably a shoe with a soft sole.
However, confusion may arise, because some shoes described as pre walkers do indeed come with hard soles.
For us, a pre walker should really be a soft soled shoe; albeit one that perhaps offers a bit more protection than a pram shoe or a crib shoe does.
These should be lightweight and flexible, as toddlers need something they can move in.
Whereas crib shoes primary purpose is to keep warm, a little more may be expected of a pre walkers; the soles may be soft, but not necessarily fabric.
SHOULD TODDLERS LEARN TO WALK WITH OR WITHOUT SHOES?
Leading on from the dilemma about whether your little one should sport those mini me cowboy boots is the next poser; that of whether a child should even wear shoes to begin walking in.
And, like all child footwear matters, it’s complicated.
According to the school of thought that brought you no indoor shoes, you have the view that babies are definitely better off learning to walk au naturel.
This is because -as highlighted above- the infant foot is a delicate thing, which is still -literally- taking shape.
Experts believe that babies develop their muscles best when walking barefoot. This is where your child will learn about the different textures underfoot and how best to navigate their environment.
However, many also say that soft soled shoes may be of benefit, too – because they can still sense the textures beneath them.
A soft soled shoe offers a compromise between total barefoot – not always the most practical choice – and wearing hard soled shoes. It is enough to offer some protection, whilst still allowing the developing foot room to breathe. And they can still get a sense of their terrain.
However, if we were to ask does a baby need shoes in order to learn to walk, then the answer is very definitely no.
But asking will it hurt them to do so is another thing. As long as the shoe is well designed and properly fits, then it won’t harm them to wear it and in certain situations, brings benefits of warmth and protection.
Ultimately, it is up to you as parent to decide whether your baby should wear walking shoes or even should babies wear shoes whilst crawling. The most important thing is to keep your child warm and protected at all times.
…But if you do decide on walking shoes for your baby, then look no further, as we move onto the all-important shoe that will accommodate their precious first steps!
Now we move onto the most important shoes you will ever buy – your baby’s first walking shoes.
Unlike a pre-walker or a crib shoe, a first walker is a shoe that is designed to be worn out on the street – whenever your little one is confident enough to pound the asphalt!
This inevitably means a shoe with soles more like your own – these may be rubber, or plastic.
However, as with all things baby, there is some controversy regarding first walkers, in particular, hard soled shoes.
…And this is the question that many parents find themselves asking….
SHOULD BABIES WEAR HARD SOLED SHOES?
Some experts, and parents, believe that outdoor shoes – the ones with firm soles – should really only be worn outdoors. And that when they are indoors they should either be barefoot or in soft soles.
Others go further and insist on barefoot as much as possible, even when outdoors.
The argument goes that being able to experience a breadth of textures beneath their feet is all part of their sensory development. However, this is all very well for when you are absolutely certain nothing is going to hurt them.
For the rest of us residing on planet earth, reality bites (and so do sharp objects, hot and cold weather, hard surfaces and doggie poop). This means putting on a pair of shoes when they go outside.
When choosing a pair of shoes for your baby or toddler, we would always advise getting their feet measured properly beforehand.
Then, allow for growth and ensure the shoe is comfortable and fits well.
It shouldn’t feature any high backs, arches, inserts, wedges or pronounced heels, either. Or anything which might alter the shape of your baby’s chubby little foot!
Finally, when your child is indoors or doesn’t require their foot covering, allow them to go barefoot as much as possible.
For the first nine months, until the bones are formed, extreme care must be taken with their footwear.
WHAT DOES THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS SAY?
Like other experts, the AAP recommend that babies only wear socks in their earliest days. However, we know sometimes that they may need to be warmer than this, particularly outdoors in cold climes.
The AAP realize this too. Their recommendations are that shoes are to be worn solely as a protective force. They should be worn to ‘prevent injury and infection’ as well as preserve warmth.
The guidelines are that they should be necessary for the conditions needed. So when considering shoes with chunky soles, ask yourself if they are likely to be trampling over Ben Nevis or will it be simply dry grass? If the latter, then a pair of soft soled shoes may suffice.
Think sensibly about the weather conditions – in general baby and toddler shoes should be made from soft materials wherever possible. Waterproof fabrics tend to be stiff, so choose some which are flexible as possible.
If all you want is warmth, hard soles may be traded in for lined soft booties, which you can layer up with thicker socks.
The AAP also has further advice about choosing baby and toddler wear, which is covered in the next couple of questions…namely…
HOW DO I CHOOSE MY FIRST BABY SHOES?
Having taken the decision to buy baby shoes, your head may be spinning trying to decide from the cosmic overload of cute you are faced with. Just how do you choose your toddler shoes?
Don’t panic! Help is at hand to help you decide which are the best shoes for babies learning to walk in.
Some tips from the AAP state that;
- Try choosing mesh or leather materials as they let your child’s foot air better.
- Try and find the lightest shoes you can. They also need to be bendy! So give them a squeeze when checking them out. If you can bend them, then your baby can move easily.
- How supportive is the base of the shoe? They should be lightweight, but also sturdy enough to prevent tumbles! (At least, as much as they can do!)
- If choosing firm shoes, then look for rubber outsoles – these will help to stop falls and skids – again, as much as possible.
- Look for soft shoes wherever circumstances allow them to be worn.
- Consider the level of shock absorber on the shoe – however, this is more likely a concern when choosing older children’s footwear.
- The best baby or toddler shoe is the one that follows the shape of your little one’s feet best. Look for foot shaped infant shoes for the best protection.
Furthermore, they suggest you bear the following in mind;
THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE SHOE
UPPER: The ideal infant shoe upper should be constructed from canvas, mesh or leather. If you did not know it, babies are natural sweaty Bettys and the infant foot perspires massively! Help them air their delicate tootsies with natural or airy materials.
INSOLE: A baby’s insole shouldn’t require specialist arch support. When choosing for a baby under 16 months, they will always have flat feet and no need for arch support. Your primary concern with a toddler’s insole is if it is absorbent and protective enough.
OUTSOLE: Like your shoe, the outsole should give both cushioning and traction. Additionally, you are looking for flexibility in a baby’s shoe. Tip; a flatter outsole will be best for your newly walking toddler!
HEEL: Baby shoes should not come with a heel. They should also be avoided for your toddler. In fact, even when choosing a shoe for an older child, the recommendations are that the heel does not exceed one inch, as this may lead to problems later on.
SO, WHICH ARE THE BEST SHOES FOR BABIES LEARNING TO WALK?
Now you know what types of material are best, but are there any specific types of shoe which are better – or worse – for the developing infant foot?
According to the AAP, sneakers – often recommended for babies – might not always make the best choice. This is because their soles can end up sticking to the floor, causing trips and falls. It is best to check the soles before buying.
Likewise, shoes which are made of too rigid materials – think, certain types of rain boot especially – might cause the foot to compress.
Finally, remember there is no need for rigid ankle support in a toddler shoe – this means high shoes aren’t a necessity.
Furthermore, the experts have some choice words to say about your toddler’s summer wardrobe….
SHOULD TODDLERS WEAR SANDALS?
Not everyone thinks it is a good idea for toddlers to wear sandals – however, there are guidelines which you should follow if choosing a sandal for your baby or toddler…
- NO FLIP FLOPS: Flip flops are not suitable for an infant or a toddler. They may trip them up (and they don’t need much help there!) and the flimsy soles are not supportive. Often flip flops fit poorly and can lead to podiatry problems. Even for older children, it is advisable to minimize the use of flip flops to the pool or beach.
- CLOSED TOES ARE BEST: Whereas adults and older kids can sport open toed styles safely, for a baby or toddler look for a closed toe sandal. Remember, it is fine to pick a style with holes in the toe box – but you are looking at protecting against stones or debris getting into the shoe.
- HEEL PROTECTION COUNTS: As well as toe protection, a toddler sandal should have an ankle protection – this doesn’t mean high shoes, but just an enclosed heel.
- CHECK IT FITS: It may be tempting to buy bigger shoes than your little one needs – but really there should only be a gap as big as your thumb’s width between their toes and the end of the shoe. This means that they won’t rub or chafe badly when walking. You also want to watch for slipping when walking.
- LEATHER RULES: The best fabric for baby is in fact leather, because it flexes to fit their feet better.
- BUCKLES ARE BEST: Although Velcro is your toddler’s best friend when it comes to feeling like a big boy who can do his own shoes up, try and pick actual buckles when choosing a sandal. This will ensure they are more likely to stay on the foot and don’t risk coming off as much.
So, finally we have arrived at our last question – and the most important one of all, namely, are there any….
BABY SHOES WHICH STAY ON?
…and which are the best shoe brands for baby and toddler?
It might pay to check out the following manufacturers for baby shoes;
Orgrimmar: This manufacturer makes stylish and cute footwear for babies and toddlers, of high quality.
Carter: The largest brand of baby and kids wear in the US, Carters produce some fabulous footwear for little ones. To read more, look at their website.
Clarks: Clarks are renowned manufacturers of high quality, sensible wear for all the family – but they pay special attention to the needs of the developing foot. Trusted by generations, Clarks shoes make a great choice for any toddler’s first steps.
All their shoes are made from a good grade of leather and are breathable and easy to move in. Robeez are a trademark of child shoe experts Stride Rite!
Stride Rite: American giant Stride Rite has been going in one guise or another since 1919 – a whole century ago!
Specializing in children’s shoes, Stride Rite also own the Merrell and Saucony labels, as well as Robeez!
Pediped: By contrast, Pediped are a relatively newbie on the baby shoe scene, only being hatched in 2005.
It was formed by a mother after the birth of her first child, when she realized she wanted to create a baby shoe that was as near to barefoot as possible.
New Balance 574: New Balance also make their classic retro sneaker for babies and little kids – check them out here
Ok, we’ve reached the end! Thanks for reading and leave a comment below…