The feet are essential in balance and spatial orientation. They develop and evolve at each stage of the child, from birth to adulthood. And, in this growth process, the feet acquire greater strength, support and shape, thus achieving a good walking and trotting rhythm.
Is it good for babies to be barefoot?
What the experts recommend the most is that before starting to walk, children remain barefoot, since at birth they have a much finer tactile sensitivity in their feet than that of, for example, their hands. This special sensitivity can last until they reach the first year, and, during this period of growth, it has special importance in the associative learning of the environment and in the adequate development of the child.
Leaving the feet free, without the oppression or protection that footwear offers, activates the mechanoreceptors when contacting the foot and external tactile stimuli. In our body we have various mechanoreceptors that are responsible, each one, of a specific aspect. To reference a few, we can mention those by Ruffini or Krause, which are linked to the thermal sensation; We also find those who respond to pressure, such as Pacini's or Merkel's; or, those that are important to us in relation to the tactile experience, those of Meissner. The latter, those of Meissner, are located on the soles of the feet, and therefore, as we have already said, are essential in the sensitive development of children. During growth, these mechanoreceptors become proprioceptors and are responsible for sending information about the body's balance and posture to the brain. For this reason, it is usually pointed out that babies use their feet as a means of knowing their environment, this being a slow, step-by-step learning process: they use their feet to come into contact with the outside, they appropriate and take the object externally with their hands, and they direct it immediately to their mouth, since it is in this last space, the mouth, where a greater number of sensitive nerve endings are located. It is even believed that letting the child move barefoot, and that it comes into contact with its environment, its outer space, helps it develop its spatial intelligence.
How do I know when to put my baby's shoes on?
According to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), we have to pay attention to the shape of the baby's foot, since it is during the first year when it is molded: the fat pad located on the soles of the feet disappears, which serves as protection , and the arch of the sole of the foot begins to form.
Therefore, it is advisable to put them on when they start to walk and their foot has already adjusted to the bipedal position and movement, that is, on both feet. However, a series of aspects must be taken into account for the adequate development of the foot and, thus, achieve ease of handling when walking.
What materials are suitable for footwear?
Regarding the recommended materials and footwear, the following is recommended:
- Do not wear shoes with a hard sole. Hard-soled shoes do not have as much flexibility as others, causing walking to generate muscle tension, beyond hindering the normal development of the foot. With which, the optimal and advisable thing is to use shoes with a flexible sole, since they help and facilitate the proper movement of the child.
- That the shoes do not squeeze the feet. The feet need to move easily, without obstacles or impediments; Not to mention that, at an early age, shoes that are very tight to the size of the foot can make it difficult to form it. For this reason, it is advisable to put the child in shoes with velcro, as this allows an excellent fit to the child's foot, without pressing and pressing it or, on the contrary, leaving the footwear loose. In both cases, especially in the first, in which the confection has been made under a narrow last in relation to the size of the child's foot, the toes will not fulfill their natural function, since they will not leave much space and freedom for the feet.
- Made with breathable materials. The material must be, absolutely, breathable, that allows air circulation and does not “drown” the foot.
When buying or putting shoes on the child, make sure that the child does not feel uncomfortable with the shoes, since they will be part of him, especially in walking and moving him. When the child begins to walk, between 12 and 15 months
, it is not necessary to keep his shoes on constantly, all the time, but he must take a break, moments in which the foot can be released. From 24 months to 2 years, you can leave your shoes on for much longer, without setting time limits.