How to Buy Baby's First Shoes
It feels like just yesterday your baby was the cutest cocoon ever in her swaddling blanket. Now she’s up and walking—everywhere! And you’re wondering about getting her an itty-bitty pair of shoes. What to look for? Philadelphia pediatric podiatrist Ron Raducanu, DPM, president of the American College of Foot and Ankle Pediatrics, takes you through the steps for making sure your child’s first ones are secure and comfy.
- Step 1: Don’t Rush!
“When children are new walkers, they don’t really need to be in a shoe unless it poses a danger to their feet, like when they’re outside,” says Dr. Raducanu. “Barefoot is the best way for them to learn to walk.” Until your kiddo’s about two and a half, keep shoes on hand for outings but let her go barefoot at home whenever possible.
- Step 2: Know Where To Go
As much of a Zappos addict as you may be, this is not the time to buy online: That first pair of baby shoes should be fit by a professional, as should subsequent ones you buy. If shoes don’t fit a child well, it can affect a child’s gait and foot development. her Local children’s shoe stores or shoe sections in department stores will have seasoned staff on hand to help you find just the right pair (K-mart, not so much). And, get excited, there are far cuter options out there these days than those white clunkers you sported as a tot (and that your mom immortalized in bronze).
- Step 3: Get a Shoe With Sole
For walking shoes, babies need soles that are on the stiffer side; flexible ones don’t offer adequate support. “If you can bend the shoe in half or twist it around itself,” says Dr. Radacanu, “it shouldn’t be on a walking child’s feet.” Don’t worry about arch support, he continues: “Arches don’t even develop in kid’s feet until they’re around three years old.”
- Step 4: If The Shoe Fits, Wear It, Baby!
The shoe salesperson will do a thorough check for a good fit. “There should be good room on the sides of the shoe for feet to move,” says Dr. Raducanu. “There should also be one quarter to a half inch of space between the front of the shoe and the big toe.”
- Step 5: Check (and Re-Check) Those Tootsies
“Check your child’s feet often after buying a new pair of shoes or after a growth spurt,” advises Dr. Raducanu. “Kids can’t really articulate pain very well, so look for redness or blistering. This could indicate that the shoe doesn’t fit well, or is not the right size.”
Just thinking about a blister caused by an ill-fitting pair of shoes can send an adult reeling. Imagine how much worse it would be if you couldn’t remove the offenders yourself and even had to put the same pair on again the next day! By putting yourself in your baby’s shoes you can appreciate the importance of proper foot care, right from the start.
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