Should your baby wear shoes?

Going shoeless can help children develop and improve walking skills

Should your baby wear shoes?

Should your baby wear shoes? Not necessarily.

Little baby shoes are oh-so-cute and you may be tempted to buy. Before you pick out the perfect pair of Mary Janes or UGG boots, you might consider their purpose.

Baby shoes have no benefits for your baby’s feet. In fact, if the shoes are too hard or inflexible, they can restrict natural foot movement. And those shoes will not help your child learn to walk faster or better.

Going shoeless actually helps children develop better balance, strength and coordination as they learn to walk. They can feel the floor or ground under them and that improves those skills.

So when is it time for shoes? The only purpose of a real shoe is to protect tiny toddler feet from rough surfaces, particularly outdoors. When your child starts taking those first steps, leave the shoes off when possible. If the surface is cold, put socks or booties with nonskid soles on the feet. If it’s warm, let your child walk barefoot indoors and even outdoors on safe surfaces.

Once toddlers are really running around, it’s time for shoes on a regular basis. Otherwise, they are likely to have problems like stubbed toes, broken toenails and other mishaps that cause pain to their feet.

Shoe shopping tips

  • Most importantly, choose shoes with flexible non-skid or skid-resistant soles.
  • The shoe base should be lightweight and flexible. Many brands of kids’ shoes are made of very soft leather that is both comfortable and washable.
  • Shoes should fit the foot with only a little room to spare. They shouldn’t be too loose or too tight.
  • If shoes have flexible soles and are a good fit, added expenses, such as arch supports and inserts are unnecessary.
  • Avoid high-top or hard-soled shoes until your child is older.
  • If you purchase decorative shoes that look good with a certain outfit, use them sparingly and take them off your infant/toddler after the special event.
  • By the time your child is a preschooler, you may want to consider lace-up shoes. It helps them get in the habit of keeping his shoes on and many preschoolers can learn to tie their own shoes.

The bottom line is there is no benefit to your child wearing shoes unless it’s to protect their feet or their pediatrician has recommended shoes for medical reasons. If you have questions or concerns, contact your child’s primary care provider.

Learn more

Posted In Children's, Health Information, Orthopedics, Parenting