Babies learn so much from their environment. The ground plays a big role in providing sensory feedback for your child. As babies develop, they receive a lot of what their bodies need from the ground. First, when lying on their backs and bellies, they receive input when their tiny tootsies contact the ground, both proprioceptive (joint position sense) and tactile (skin sensation), as they wiggle and kick. As babies develop and begin moving through various positions, pushing against the top surface of their feet when crawling and on the soles of their feet as they bear walk and obtain standing positions, the ground provides further input.
This input helps develop muscles and sensation, including joint awareness. Finally with cruising and walking, the baby develops the more intricate musculature of their feet and the sensory information continues to be utilized by their balance centers. Feeling the ground under their feet is crucial to your child’s development therefore going without shoes whenever possible is very beneficial for babies. However, your child’s feet do need to be protected at times so following proper shoe fitting guidelines is essential for your child’s development and safety.
Based on the What to Expect article, Best Shoes for Toddlers:
A Buying Guide published January 29, 2015 recommendations include the following:
“The best shoes for toddlers are all about fit, form, and function, not fashion.”
- Have your child’s feet measured by a professional in a standing position with their typical socks on.
- Make sure that they don’t curl their toes up when checking the measurement. A thumb’s width between the front of the shoe and the big toe (or about ½ inch) should be available for growth. Do not allow too much open space or this will contribute to catching of toes, tripping and balance deficits for your child.
- Make sure the heel is secure in the back of the shoe when walking to prevent rubbing and blisters.
- Avoid trendy shoes that do not provide needed support for a new walker.
- Make sure that the shoe is made of canvas, cloth or leather to allow air to circulate and prevent sweating and skin issues.
- The shoe should be very flexible to allow the foot to move and the sole should not be slippery at all.
- Avoid hand me down shoes since shoes conform to the wearer’s foot and can incorrectly fit your child even in the correct size.
Written by Physical Therapist-Lori
Providence Pediatric Medical Daycare is a loving, caring environment for children with special medical needs. PPMD has daycare facilities located throughout Southern New Jersey, in Camden, West Berlin, and Atlantic City.