My child just started walking, do they need shoes?

Up until the time when they start walking, shoes can be thought of as merely fashion accessories.  While they can help to provide warmth to your child’s feet, socks are best for keeping feet warm.  The age which children begin to walk varies greatly, but typically occurs around one year of age.  Some children can even skip crawling entirely, which is completely normal.

It is best for your child to learn to walk barefoot while indoors.  This allows them to utilize the sensations felt by their bare feet to help them keep their balance and learn about the need to shift their weight while they take steps.

It can be very dangerous for a child to walk around in just socks, as they are more prone to awkward falls.

Baby Walkers – should we use one?

NO.  These walkers lead to thousands of injuries each year from children falling down steps or stairs or even the change from tile to carpet in a home.  They do not help with teaching a child to walk faster, and in many cases, actually hinder the development of the child’s walking skills.

Once your child begins to walk, shoes should be worn anytime they will be outdoors to prevent injuries to the foot.  Many recommend shoes made of breathable material (like a sneaker) which offer flexible and soft soles that are non-skid or skid-resistant. This type of shoe allows the child to feel the subtle movements of their foot as they walk which helps to improve their balance.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons state that high top shoes do not offer any more foot or ankle support than low top shoes.

If your child is constantly trying to remove their shoes, it may be because they do not fit well.  Be sure to check their feet for any signs of redness or blisters after removing their shoes.

Your child’s feet will be growing by leaps and bounds over the next several years and they will likely need new shoes often.  There should be ½ inch between the tip of the big toe and the front of the shoe and the heel of the foot should be snug into the back of the shoe.  Be sure to check their foot size often at the shoe store to determine if they are due for a new pair.

Random useless fact: that metal shoe sizing gadget at the store is called a Brannock device.

For more information on proper footwear or your child’s development, please consult with your pediatrician.