I will start this post by explaining that the best thing that you can do for your baby is to have him/her walk barefoot at home. This is the BEST thing we can do to promote healthy muscle development. You will ONLY need shoes for your baby once you take him/her outside to the shopping mall, the playground, or any activity that involves your baby taking steps outside the house.
Firm, Semi-Flexible Or Soft-flexible Shoes For Your Baby?
Infants first walking shoes have been a long controversial question among doctors and shoe-men alike. The increasing trend or preference is for what we describe as shoes that have a “flexible” sole. This is what I also agree with since this is the natural condition of the bare foot, and infant shoe flexibility should simulate that foot.
The outsole is intended to provide what’s called “lateral stability” by offering a fairly wide base (sole with extended edges), plus a fairly firm weight bearing surface. Nevertheless, as the child lifts its heel to take a step, there must be some degree of easy flexibility at the ball to step forward without resistance from the sole. Keep in mind that the infant, unlike older children or adults, lacks the body weight(strength) to bend a firmer sole. That is the main reason why baby shoes are so soft and flexible!
A sole that is too soft, such as a soft-sole slipper, will not hold its shape with wear. It lacks that important quality of “lateral stability”.Your baby’s first walking shoes should have a “flexible” sole that is neither rigid nor soft. The sole must retain its shape with wear. As to material, a leather sole is unquestionably the best to fulfill these functions. Shoes with leather soles are found in good quality shoes.
I will describe the best shoes for a baby who is learning how to walk below. The question of durability is completely unimportant in infant shoes, since they never wear out the shoes because of how fast they grow. Do you know how fast kids’ are suppose to grow? Do you know when it is the right time to check if your child needs new shoes? I wrote a post where I describe how long should kids’ shoes last depending on their ages. The post is called:
Take a look at the picture below, it describes the features that babies shoes must have in order to help them learn how to walk:
The Baby (9-15 months)
During this stage the child should start becoming an independent walker. If your child is crawling and standing up with the assistance of holding into things this might be a good time for getting him his first pair of shoes. REMEMBER: we still want to have them barefoot at home. The idea of a pair of shoes is for when you take them to a playground, the shopping mall or any activity that requires stepping foot outside the house.
The appropriate pair of shoes at this age is what I describe as TRANSITIONS SHOES. This kind of shoes should bend in half and twist, and they should be very light and most flexible so your children muscles can develop properly.
Your baby tiny toes are constantly wiggling, which is nature’s way of exercising the foot for development. Toe gripping is also essential for gait balance when the child starts to walk. Thus the obvious importance of baby shoes having ample grow room and wiggle space in the toe area.
Did you know that getting the right socks for your baby has the same importance as getting the correct pair of shoes? Socks play a huge role in keeping our kids’ feet healthy. A sock that is too tight will restrict toe movement, and might also make your babies toes more prone to overlaping each other. It is important to provide your baby with a pair of seamless socks, since this type of socks allow the toes to freely move. I created a post where I explain the importance of socks and when is appropriate to use grippers socks for babies. The post is called:
Some parents believe that once you fit the first pair of baby shoes the child will immediately start walking. Eighty percent of the time this will NOT happen. Once we put the first pair of shoes the child loses the sense he had to the ground so it takes him longer to adjust.
I can tell you that most times after I fit a baby with his first pair of shoes he looks like I nailed his feet down to the ground, since he will refuse to move and will stand in the same place waiting for the parents to rescue him! After a week or so of wearing the shoes, babies should have no problem walking. The infant will balance itself with his arms, that is the reason why they should not be holding into anything when attempting to take those first steps.
Below you can find some of the best fitting shoes for a child that is learning how to walk:
All of these shoe styles fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
To some mothers new shoes often look giant on the baby’s foot. I often mention that baby shoes sometimes appear large to the eye, but the shoes are the right size needed for this fast-growing foot.
The Toddler (2nd – 3rd Year)
Since your child is on his feet all day now putting pressure on the feet, he will require a harder sole shoe with more support and a stiffer heel counter. Flexibility and fit remain the two most important priorities for your child. Keep in mind, it does not matter how much support a shoe provides, if not fitted properly it will not benefit your child’s feet in any way.
Needless to say, these progressive stages are average. Some infants arrive at them sooner or later, which is quite normal. The fit and design of the shoe during those first three years is more important than at any other time in life. That’s because of the fragile nature of the young foot, plus the constant activity of the toes within the shoe.
The Child (4th– 13th year)
Throughout the ages of 4 to 18 of juvenile growth and development, feet are subjected to enormous stress not experienced by the average adult foot. For example, the adult walks at a rhythmic pace and with a repeated gait pattern. The child, however, walks, runs, stomps, slides and skids, climbs, kicks, twists, comes to sudden stops.
These are natural activities and foot motions for a healthy child. But these actions impose inordinate stress, torsions and other strains on the foot. They also impose extraordinary abuse on the footwear. This is why unusual care must be taken not only with the fit of the shoes, but also the type of shoes you choose for your child.
I always recommend taking your children to your local kids’ shoe store to have his feet properly measured by a shoe fitter. If you don’t have a store in your area that you trust, I wrote a post about the best kids’ shoes that you might benefit from reading, since it shows the most durable shoe styles that also come in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide. The post is called:
Between these years the child’s natural foot growth is accompanied by a progressive “solidifying”. The bones become harder (ossified) and larger and their ends reach out toward other bones to form their respective joints. The muscles, tendons and ligaments are acquiring increasing strength through the natural vigorous activity of the child’s foot, and the arch is taking firmer shape. By about age 13, the bones and joints have pretty much completed their ossifying mission, though for the next five years these will still show growth and increasing strength.
These factors make it evident that the design, construction and fitting of children’s shoes involve very special skills and attention.
Has your child been trying to walk on his/her own?Is your child ready for his/her first pair of walking shoes? Please share your thoughts and experiences that way we can all benefit it from them! I will continue to post informative articles penned by me that address important topics such as this one.