Consider the baby.
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?
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.
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.
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.
And remember, this journey continues right up until they are teenagers – although by then you might have other problems!