Caring for Your Baby's Feet

What to Wear?

It's difficult to resist the temptation to put cute little shoes on your baby, but they can be an obstruction to growing feet. Shoes that are too restrictive don't allow for normal toe and foot motion.

Stick to nonrestrictive socks (make sure the sock and elastic around the top aren't too tight) and crib shoes -- those soft, flexible leather booties. Save sturdy, adult-like shoes -- such as Mary Janes or loafers -- for special dress-up photos. Even when children are learning to walk, shoes are only necessary for protection from slippery floors, a splintery deck, or the ground outside. Otherwise, let your child walk barefoot or with nonskid booties. This will allow her toes to grip the floor and her feet to balance better.

When purchasing shoes for your new walker, again look for ones that are lightweight and flexible, and that bend easily. Make sure that the shape of the shoe is straight; shoe designs sometimes flare in or out at the toe. Your child's shoe size will change every few months in the beginning. Get him properly fitted for width as well as size at a shoe store.

Marlene Reid, DPM, is in private practice in Westmont, Illinois, and the mother of two. Dr. Reid is also president of the American Association for Women Podiatrists.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, August 2004.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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