What are the ideal first shoes for babies?
Babies can roll over, sit up, and crawl on their own without being taught. As they learn to stand on two legs and walk, they will probably have more opportunities to go to the park with parents or play outside with friends and teachers at kindergarten. We asked Dr. Takashi Kawabata of the Faculty of Human Health at Kansai University, who is also a shoe expert, and researches walking from a scientific point of view, about first shoes for babies who have started walking outside. Babies’ shoes may affect their skeletal structure and body movements as they grow older, so let’s think about the suitable way of choosing the best shoes based on some advice from Dr. Kawabata.
The difference between “pre-shoes” and “first-shoes”
In the previous article, we talked in depth about the development of babies’ feet and pre-shoes for babies who are just starting to stand up, but when is the right time to move on to first shoes to wear outside?
“It is preferable to wear pre-shoes if your baby is just starting to stand up or walking a short distance. The best time to change to first-shoes is when your baby starts to walk on their own to some extent and starts walking outside more.” (Dr. Kawabata)
Many pre-shoes have thin and soft soles made of synthetic leather, so if your child is just practicing walking in the in your room or the backyard of your house, the pre-shoes they are used to wearing will be easy to walk in. When your child is ready to walk outside, it’s time for first-shoes.
Pre-shoes are made mainly for indoor use. However, when your child wants to walk outside, you may want to let them walk in a safe place such as in the backyard of your house or a park. In such a situation, it is safer to use pre-shoes that your child is used to wearing. It is not too late for your child who just starts walking outside with their parents to get the first pair of shoes made of durable materials such as rubber soles.
“Since they are still in the period when they need to develop the sense of grasping the ground with their toes,a thin sole is ideal. Babies will be moving a lot, so the heel support should be firmer than the pre-shoes. For babies’ shoes, it is difficult to find the right balance between the hold of the heel, instep, and the flexibility of the sole.” (Dr. Kawabata)
Your baby’s first “shoe life.” Check your baby’s foot size every three months!
What Dr. Kawabata has been concerned about recently, is the increase in the number of children with “floating feet.” A “floating feet” is one in which the middle, ring, and little toes of the foot that should be gripping the ground are lifted when standing.
“Recently, I have noticed that about 10% of children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old seem to have floating feet. The cause is thought to be that walking in shoes with hard soles dulls the sensation in the soles and reduces the amount of movement. Another cause is that the shoe size is too small or does not fit the shape of the foot, causing the outer toes to lift up.” (Dr. Kawabata)
In order to prevent floating feet, it is important to choose shoes with soft soles that are the right size for your child’s feet. Some mothers and fathers let their children wear big-sized shoes thinking that “they will grow bigger eventually,” or don’t even notice that the shoes are getting smaller for their children because they think, “I just bought them a few days ago, so they should still fit.”
Dr. Kawabata says, “check the measurement every three months” because the sizing and fit are very important in babies’ shoes. There are also shoes with insoles that prevent feet from floating, so if you have any concerns about your child’s feet type, you may want to try them.
Some babies have slender feet, whereas others have wide and strong feet with high insteps. Taking footprints not only at birth, but also other milestones such as the first birthday to compare your child’s foot type and how it is changing may be useful in selecting shoes in the future.
What are the best first shoes for babies?
It is parental desire to provide comfortable shoes for babies who are just starting to grow and are training to walk with their delicate feet. Lastly, Dr. Kawabata sorted out the points for choosing first shoes.
- 1. There is a solid core in the heel to prevent the baby’s foot from wobbling
- 2. Heel fits perfectly and can be adjusted with a belt to fit the height of the instep
- 3. Toe should be shaped to fit the foot so that the toes can move freely.
- 4. There is enough room for the toe.
- 5. Thin and soft soles with excellent durability
It is always important to remember that the first shoes have to be made for the development of the baby’s feet in mind. When you find a cute pair of shoes, you may be tempted to put them on, but it can be dangerous to choose first shoes based on the design alone.
“Even for adults, it is very painful when we wear shoes that don’t fit. Babies can’t talk, so mothers and fathers might not notice, but it must be very unsettling for babies to have to stand and walk unsteadily in shoes that don’t fit.” (Dr. Kawabata)
When looking for shoes for your baby, it is preferable to go to a store where the staff can give you good advice. Of course, you can’t make a decision without taking your baby and letting them try the shoes on.
Dr. Kawabata says, “Babies know the best about what shoes are good for their feet.” When you ask your child to go for a walk, the shoes your child chooses to bring are the ones that are most comfortable to wear for your child. It’s a sign that your baby loves these shoes and that they are comfortable to wear.
Babies who are waddling now will be able to walk around freely on their own feet when they grow older. It is important to select the right shoes for your child carefully, starting with pre-shoes and first-shoes, so that your child can walk with a firm footing in the future.
In order for your child to walk with a firm footing in the future, you would want to carefully examine and select shoes for your baby, starting with pre-shoes and first-shoes.
Dr. Takashi Kawabata
Kansai University School of Health and Well-being, professor, Medical Doctor.
Researches on human body adaptability and performance limiting factor due to environment and exercise stress, and studies on physiological significance of blood circulation and thermoregulation of various athletic ability. In recent years, he's been researching on Health Support for elderly (interval walking), athlete's performance and (central/peripheral) fatigue .