All parents want what’s best for their children, but many don't realise just how important it is to start caring for your child’s feet from the moment they’re born! Biomechanical problems nearly always start during childhood, and because the feet are the foundation of the body, issues with the feet can cause pain in the knees, hips, back, and shoulders later in life.
The way the feet develop during infancy will have a huge impact on your child’s health and wellbeing throughout their life. Let’s look at some things you can do to ensure their little feet develop properly and minimise the risk of foot problems in their adult life.
Barefoot Is Best
As tempting as the adorable baby shoes available these days are, research shows that it’s best for babies and toddlers to be barefoot as much as possible. This allows for their feet to develop fully and naturally, rather than conforming to the shoes they're wearing.
It also improves their agility, posture, and coordination, as well as helping them learn how to balance. So unless they’re walking on surfaces that call for shoes, make sure your toddler is barefoot as much as possible!
Not All Socks
As we said, barefoot is best, so socks only need to be worn when it’s cold - but be careful
when choosing them, as socks can restrict the development of their delicate little feet. It’s important to choose socks that are not too tight, as this can restrict circulation as well as impeding how their feet develop.
Choose stretchy socks made from cotton or wool, and make sure you can fit a finger between the fabric and the baby’s skin. The same goes for baby-grows - ensure that they’re long enough and don’t squeeze or restrict the feet.
It’s best to wait as long as possible before getting shoes for your baby - they don't need shoes for walking around the home. Of course, shoes will need to be worn when the toddler is walking around outside on dangerous surfaces, as the main point of baby shoes is to protect their feet from the surfaces they will be walking on.
Poor fitting shoes could potentially be even more harmful than wearing no shoes, so it’s vital to make sure they fit correctly. Shoes ideally need to be professionally fitted - they should be the right length, width, and depth for the feet.
The toes should be able to move freely and not be squashed, and there should be about 1cm space between the big toe and the end of the shoe. Shoes shouldn't be too loose or too tight around the heel - they need to fit just right. Try to get breathable shoes made from natural materials.