Does My Baby Even Need Shoes? A Case for and Against Going Barefoot
New parents will soon discover that pretty much everyone will want to offer their own advice and opinions about how you should be bringing up your child.
And it’s totally fine to absorb as much advice and information as possible – wisdom passed down through the ages has worked since … well, forever.
But many people are polarised about certain issues, which might make you break out into sweats wondering which team is on the right side.
Seriously, some people swear by dressing their one-day-old in rigid high tops, while others insist on letting their kids run barefoot as long as is possible. Who are you supposed to believe?!
There’s a lot of ill-informed advice out there. So, we’ve summed it up nice and simple with a pros and cons list below on whether your child should go barefoot.
Do Babies Need Shoes?
No! They Should Go Barefoot Wherever Possible
I bet you didn’t expect that – a shoe company advocating barefoot as much as possible. But the fact is we can’t ignore the science. And the consensus among paediatricians and podiatrists is that shoes aren’t necessarily good for your child’s growth and development .
Let’s start with growth. Baby feet don’t resemble adult feet in any way, because they don’t have any bones in them. Zip, nada, none. It’s all cartilage down there, which eventually ossifies into the 28 bones adults have – but over the space of basically their whole childhood.
All that important development means baby feet are pretty delicate, needing the freedom to grow as nature intended, rather than being restricted in rigid shoes that could inhibit bone development.
It’s not just about the way their feet will grow though. Touch actually plays an important role in helping your child learn to walk. In a process called proprioception, your baby’s brain receives information about the ground through the soles of their feet.
So if they’re barefoot, they get important feedback from the ground, which means they’ll hold their head up more when they’re walking.
Yes! – Shoes Are Necessary for Babies
This is a hard one for us to answer, because we’re firmly in the barefoot camp. But there are naturally going to be times throughout your child’s development when it’s either uncomfortable or unsafe for your child to go barefoot. Especially when they come into contact with things like concrete, gravel and other hard or abrasive surfaces.
The idea that shoes are important, always, for babies is outdated and few people advocate that rigid high-tops will stabilise and correct a child’s foot anymore.
But it’s totally fine to deck your child in socks with grip or soft sole shoes when the weather goes south (or if you simply like the colour or pattern!). It’s not whether they’re wearing shoes or not, but what they’re wearing that truly counts.
And as your baby starts to grow into an 'upstanding' human being, there may be times you’ll want to protect their feet with a pair of shoes. Sure, they’re fine to walk around the house or in your backyard. But in the playground or down the street? Not so cool.
So for those moments when shoes are on demand, make sure they encase the feet without being too tight or rigid. The best baby shoes can be bent in half and easily twisted, they’re so flexible. Closed-toe shoes with rubber soles are ideal for when your kids start clambering over playground equipment.
Still not sure about whether you ought to be getting shoes for your child – or exactly what type of shoes to buy? Check out our Kids Foot Development guide with everything you need to know for your child’s foot health. Or start shopping for the best shoes for pre-walkers today!