Soft Soled Shoes:
Soft, flexible soled footwear support normal foot development by allowing a child's foot to develop naturally. Stiff shoes inhibit a baby's growing muscles from strengthening and balancing with the foot and leg. Learning to walk in bare feet is best for a baby's natural foot development. But often the walking surface is cold, hot, or rough, and sensitive little feet need protection. In these situations, your children should wear soft-soled shoes so they're protected and can still feel the ground, flex their feet, and grip with their toe



Your Child's Feet
The human foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body. At birth, feet contain only 22 partially formed bones. Over time those bones will grow and harden. In the first year, your child's feet will reach almost half their adult size. By the age of 18, their feet will have 26 bones, 19 muscles, over 100 ligaments, and thousands of nerve endings. That's a lot of change for something so tiny and precious. And that's why it's so important to select shoes that support healthy development.

Selecting Shoes
You've likely heard barefoot is best for growing feet but they also need protection and warmth too. When selecting shoes, there are a number of things to look for to ensure healthy development.

  • Healthy foot development factor #1 - Thin soles. Thin leather soles allow your child to feel the ground, allowing a better grip and promoting natural muscle development.
  • Healthy foot development factor #2 - Stays in place. Your baby's shoes should hold securely to their feet as they explore. You want to choose a shoe with a secure fit – not too big and not too snug.  Don’t forget to measure your child’s foot regularly to make sure they are wearing the proper size shoe.
  • Healthy foot development factor #3 - Flexibility. Your child's shoe should bend at the metatarsal joint, that spot right underneath the ball of the foot. Without flexibility at this joint, the muscles may be impeded.
  • Healthy foot development factor #4 - Lightweight. Stiff soles and toe caps can trip baby, especially as they learn to walk.

Once you and your baby discover the wonderful aspects of soft soled shoes there is only one problem…..choosing just a few pair. I particularly like the Robeez and Pediped brands.  There are so many adorable and fashionable styles to choose from, if you are like me you will want one of each. 

by William Sears MD and Martha Sears MDWaterbirth

"As a general guide, the earlier the stage of walking, the thinner and more flexible the sole should be. Before buying a shoe, bend it in your hand to test it's flexibility. Then watch your baby walk. The shoe bend at the ball of the foot as your baby takes each step. Avoid stiff shoe for young feet. If you have difficulty bending the shoe in your hand, leave it in the store."

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